Last night, 10 seed and early stage founders came out to San Francisco's Cafe Du Nord for Vator Splash, an event hosted by Vator.tv for founders to pitch their startups to an audience of other founders, press, and investors, and for seasoned entrepreneurs - Zynga's Mark Pincus and Smule's Jeff Smith - to give their insight into how to build great businesses.
The 10 startups beat out almost 200 other companies competing on the Vator Splash competition over the past two months, and, in the end, users had cast well over 3,000 votes.
Beating out nine other great startups, Tim Hyer's Rentcycle brought the night to a close after being featured in a special live version of Vator Box. Digital media investment banker and regular host of Vator Box Ezra Roizen sat alongside Dana Settle, a partner with Greycroft Partners, Patrick Chung, a partner at NEA, and Brian Ascher, a partner with Venrock, for Splash Box.
Rentcycle is looking to bring the rental industry online. For rental businesses, RentCycle offers a system to track inventory, manage reservations and increase distribution of goods. Unlike Zilok, which is a p2p rental service, RentCycle wants to focus on being the software platform for large rental companies, like Home Depot. On the consumer side, the startup wants to be the central marketplace for renting anything online. Some potential items that could be rented on Rentcycle include tools and equipment for construction, parties and events materials, consumer rentals like electronics and sporting goods and even video rentals. It offers its services free for consumers and a subscription model and commission fees for the rental business. The company recently launched Rentcycle 2.0 which brought in a directory of over 30,000 companies consumers and potential renters can search through to find that next bicycle they need to rent when they visit a foreign country.
Highlights from the Splash Box:
--The panelists agreed that Hyer's short pitch was effectively clear and concise.
--Ascher, like the other panelists, believes Rentcycle has solid ideas backing up its service and thinks the company only needs to find a key to aggregating demand to achieve a critical mass on the site.
--Chung brought up an interesting point by citing how when eBay first started it had to confront problems like people trying to sell organs. Rentcycle will necessarily need to face similar hurdles.
--Roizen presented the pretty basic problem of how Rentcycle will find "enough people who want enough supplies" to make the service viable and something that users will want to use consistently. Others on the panel reiterated these concerns, with Ascher specifically claiming that while Rentcycle's service may not be especially novel, its future success will rest on its mode of execution.
--As a possible solution to Roizen's comments, Chung suggested Rentcycle follow the example of other startups by focusing on a city-by-city basis: "develop the model, build, and replicate," he said.
--In his under-a-minute response to the panelists, Hyer explained that though Rentcycle seeks to update an old-fashioned rental industry, that same industry has developed solid organization over the years. That, he believes, will help them get businesses involved. As for drawing consumers, Hyer said his company's plan is "developing really good SEOs."
To learn more about Rentcycle, be sure to check out the latest episode of Startup Sessions, which features Hyer hard at work in his entrepreneurial lifestyle.