Startup Spotlight is an ongoing series that profiles Canadian wireless and mobile technology startups.
This month, we spoke with Angela Hamilton, Co-Founder of Quupe. The company is a shared economy platform for peer-to-peer rentals, allowing people to rent items they own to others while they’re not in use.
What was the inspiration behind Quupe? What was the goal in creating the company?
We recognized there was a need for people who wanted to try something new or make something cool but lack the means to do it and don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of money on something that they might only use once. It was also clear to us, living in an urban centre like Vancouver, that we’re surrounded by people who may already have these items, so why not get additional use or value out of the stuff that people just have sitting around anyway?
Creating Quupe (it’s pronounced “koop!”) is a collaborative project between myself and my three co-founders, but for me, the draw to make this company a reality is the fact that I have a lot of stuff sitting around that other people could be using. For example, I like doing carpentry and woodworking projects, and I have a number of specific tools that I’ve only used once or twice for a project and thought, “Someone else could be getting value out of these.” So we’re creating a service to allow you to put to use items in your home that would otherwise be gathering dust.
We also hope that by providing this tool, it will encourage greater community interaction, too. Connecting people with similar interests will hopefully provide a platform for people to share knowledge and skills and build relationships. One of the things we hear often is that we’re all very focused on our screens and very engaged in the online world, and I think there’s a real collective desire to get away from that. So we hope that this will be part of that transition.
Can you explain the essence of your product and what benefits it provides?
Quupe is a shared economy platform for peer-to-peer rentals, so basically a tool that allows people to post things that they own but don’t use very often, to rent out to neighbours and other people in their community. This platform allows people to earn cash on things that they already own and aren’t using.
There are a number of similar peer-to-peer rental platforms that have been tried before, but when we look at our direct competitors, we find that where they missed the mark is that they didn’t make it simple enough for people. We’re working hard to address those issues. One of the pain points that we’ve heard is that people don’t want to have to wait for an extended period of time for someone to show up, so we’re working on incorporating a delivery model to solve issues like that. We’re working to incorporate whatever we can to make it as easy as possible on everyone involved in the transaction. We also have a rental calculator that is very cool, which allows users to put in information about their item, and it provides a recommendation of what to charge. We’re including features like this to help take some of the guesswork out of the system.
What role has Wavefront played in your journey to date?
During the last few months working with Wavefront, we’ve gotten a ton of value out of the VAP. Our EIR has provided us so much knowledge and wisdom, and meeting with him has been great, especially in terms of shaping the direction of Quupe. We’re finding the VAP already very helpful in terms of thinking through a lot of the big-picture items — those things that can fall to the wayside when everyone is hyper-focused on nailing down the details of the company and product. It allows us to have the chance to really focus on important questions, like “Who are our ideal customers?” and “What is the value proposition and positioning statement for our company?” Things like that. It has already been really helpful in moving forward and developing our strategy and direction.
From your time leading the company, what have you found most challenging? Is there any advice you would share with an aspiring entrepreneur?
We’re a brand-new startup, and we’ve never attacked a project of the size before, so there was a bit of a learning curve for all of us. The nature of the marketplace has been one of our major challenges; we have to support both sides of the market in the app we’ve created. We have to spend a lot of time thinking through the best ways to engage both the supply side and the demand side so that we have a great selection of items available for users when they start checking out the offerings. We’ve spent a lot of time coming up with ways to gamify the experience.
For example, we’re incorporating a feature that prompts users with a question: Have you ever wondered how much your stuff is worth? This allows users to put in some basic information and find out. We’re making it tangible for people – ”You could get $150 a week for your bike,” — and here’s how to do it.
Why did you select BC for the home of your company?
The first reason was that we all love Vancouver. My coworkers and I are all international, and we love the city. Also, Vancouver is uniquely positioned to adopt this kind of app, and the city has a clear need for it. Vancouverites are very active, adventurous and interested in exploring new ways of enjoying life. There is also a feeling that the residents of Vancouver could use more ways to connect to each other. We hope Quupe will be a great way for people to get to know their neighbours and meet more people, all while having increased access to great gear right in their area.
Angela and her team are fine-tuning the Alpha version of the app and have many developments in the works. To stay up to date on Quupe and find out when they’re launching near you, visit: https://quupe.com.