It looks like Gear-Sharing could be here to stay after KitSplit announced they are buying out San Francisco based CameraLends. This will likely lead to a more reliable and capable rental service that bypasses regular rental houses. Will this be successful? Would you trust the system?
For anybody unfamiliar with Gear-Sharing, it’s a bit like Uber for camera equipment. One person volunteers their gear, and another person rents it. Usually the fee is less than a rental house would charge. Kitsplit is based in New York, and now wants to expand their network to the west coast. With investment money from Hearst, Broadway Video Ventures, and seven others, they’re able to buy out the competition even though they’re younger. This will likely make them the largest camera rental company in the world. Is it safe though?
Both companies realize that nobody wants to lend their equipment to strangers. As such, the community is vetted and each user is held accountable. If an item is stolen or damaged, the details of the renter are on file and the owner will have a replacement given to them as soon as possible. This is done between insurance that Kitsplit offers, your own insurance, or the renter paying for the full price of the item as credit card details are held.
The two services are fully integrated already. It’s in KitSplit’s best interest to make the transition as smooth as possible here. CameraLends users will be able to login to KitSplit, reset their password, and retain all of their account details from before. The new users will also be able to make use of KitSplit’s Concierge Service, in which larger orders can be organised by KitSplit, and even delivery options via courier.
One interesting (and arguably reassuring) part of the process, is KitSplit re-vetting a selection of CameraLends users. This is due to lack of activity or positive reviews that some of the new users have. So rest assured that KitSplit isn’t letting anybody slip through the cracks.
KitSplit have admitted that not all of the new areas covered are filled with enough users to create a buzzing market. However, this buyout could signal a change in how the industry treats the share-economy. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who have rented an Airbnb instead of a studio, maybe they got an Uber there. The time may be coming to forgo the expensive rental houses as well, and with an expanding market for gear-sharing, it’s getting easier and easier.
KitSplit hasn’t been valuated yet, so it’s difficult to tell how much leverage they really have on the industry. When they reach their series-A of funding we may find out a lot more – but at that point they’ll be miles ahead of any competition. That competition is ShareGrid, who are also funded. However with this news they might be at a disadvantage.
What do you think about it? Would you trust your equipment to be rented by other people? Would you trust owners to have taken care of the equipment they’re renting to you?