Our sustainability goal: to provide a great alternative to buying

WhyBuy’s approach to sustainability, part one: to provide a great alternative to buying

Commercial enterprises in the 21st century strive to have sustainability policies and climate change awareness in their day to day activities, alongside their core functionality.  WhyBuy however, has sustainability as its raison-d’etre.

The world currently needs 1.7 times the amount of resources that it can actually sustain.  This means we need 1.7 planets simply to keep at the same level of consumption.  This global problem is actually an opportunity for commerce and consumers to maintain their lifestyles while eliminating the vast amounts of waste and surplus-to-requirement products we use.

Example 1:

In 2017, Ian and his wife decided to bring their 2 children to Glastonbury.  The bought a variety of camping gear including a high-quality tent, inflatable beds for the children, camp beds for the adults as well as lighting, a table and bench set, portable batteries for device charging and a cooler for food and drinks.  In total, they spent more than £1,900 before they even bought the tickets to the festival and at the end of a wonderful weekend, are now the proud owners of all this equipment taking up space in their garage unlikely to be used again.

Carbon calculators are now widely accessible by the public and are a useful tool to see the impact of your food consumption and flights in generating your carbon footprint.  Only recently has the conversation begun about how much carbon it takes for consumer products at home that are designed for brief use and when you factor in the manufacturing of these items and the transport costs across the world, it is now believed they generate a significant portion of an individuals carbon footprint.  Buying a Black & Decker drill for £200 to make a few holes once a year makes no sense either commercially for consumers or environmentally.

Example 2:

Sarah was expecting her sister to arrive to London from Manchester with her 13 month old child for a weekend.  Her sister was travelling by train and while she had a buggy and chair with her, the ability to travel with a newborn as well as the necessary equipment meant Sarah had to buy a cot, baby rocker, playpen and safety gates for the stairs.  When her sister returned to Manchester, Sarah was the proud owner of all these items without any use for them and her nephew was soon to be too old to use them on the next visit.  Infrequent needs for certain products may be good for large manufacturers of cheap, limited use items but with WhyBuy Sarah could hire a higher quality cot which would both save her money and storage space and give her nephew a better night’s sleep.

WhyBuy was founded to explore the opportunity to be the Deliveroo for tools and home care.  The founders quickly realised that the duplication of items in homes went far beyond power drills and garden equipment and the solution to the a environmental emergency was answered by saving people money: How much stuff do you own at home that you never use?  How much money is tied up in those things at home that you bought for a single purpose but then simply had in your home?  If a properly curated service existed that allowed people to hire top quality items on-demand as and when they needed them, there would be significant savings both environmentally and in consumers’ pockets.

Please get in touch (0333 340 3150) to find out how we can make it easy to rent items for your next trips or visitors.

Introducing WhyBuy

Let’s get rid of this thing that capitalism is evil. Capitalism isn’t evil. Being greedy is evil.

WhyBuy CEO & founder Jamie Conway explains how his simple, quality business model is reaping rewards.

Jamie Conway, WhyBuy CEO, quoted in the Daily Telegraph, July 2020.

Inspiration for businesses can come from many different places – from a board meeting, a focus group or in response to a societal problem. For WhyBuy’s Jamie Conway, it came from a chocolate fountain he’d last used in 2012. 

“I have a chocolate fountain because I hosted New Year’s Eve for friends eight years ago, I’ve not used it since – it’s still in a cupboard”, Conway said, as he spoke from his flat in London. “I can’t throw it out, because it’s a perfectly good appliance. But at the same time, I never used it. And it became a thing of realising how much stuff and clutter you have”. 

Conway and WhyBuy’s business model is simple – an efficient service to rent appliances you’d occasionally use but don’t want to own. Before launching, Conway had envisioned tools and household appliances as the main uses, but the coronavirus pandemic had forced him to adapt. 

“If you’d asked me a year ago, pre-Covid, I would have said we are a tools company. It’s about ‘I need a ladder. I don’t want to own a ladder I just needed temporarily’. It was about ‘I need a hardwood floor cleaner, or a paint stripper’. It was that sort of thing. 

“Now it’s very much about entertainment and having friends over and deciding I’m getting a projector and we’re doing movies or football or Eurovision or whatever your event is that you and your friends love. That’s what it’s going to be. The thing is to upgrade your lifestyle.” 

Conway’s crafty approach is reflected by his reaction after the UK entered lockdown. While most people were hunkering down and preparing for the worst, Conway spotted a business opportunity, and approached his local gyms with a proposition. 

“I said, give me your gear and we’ll rent it out for you, and we’ll share the revenue,” he says. “And spin bikes have actually been really popular.” 

Despite the pandemic, it seems like Conway will be moving up a gear soon. 

While there are similarities to hit apps like Deliveroo or Uber, Conway is keen to outline that, unlike them, WhyBuy is tightly focused on the quality of its product. 

“We completed our fundraising documents with our fundraisers in January. We were meant to launch in April, and we actually paused [due to the pandemic]. Then we decided there is an opportunity here; the biggest change that we saw was, obviously, we need to be delivering stuff that you trust.” 

Conway’s quality-first approach extends to service too. Unlike Deliveroo or Uber, he believes the quality approach should extend to staff. 

“We don’t do freelancers as our drivers or delivery guys. They’re all employed directly. So it’s not like the Uber model or anything where it’s just a random punter rocking up to your house. Our first point of contact with the customers is our drivers as the guys who are representing the company … No way am I having a random punter who works for us five or six hours a week rocking up” 

“You need to have everybody facing the same direction, I want to always promote from within. It’s so much easier. And even with a simple concept like ours, the execution is so complex. Even the logistics of bringing a vacuum cleaner to you, that it’s in the right place at the right time of the day, it’s incredibly complex. 

“I would say that with the colleagues I have at the moment, they are evangelical like me.” Conway spoke of how one of the customer support staff came up with the idea of using the 1999 film Fight Club’s mantra of “the things you own end up owning you”. Conway says he was perturbed by the staff describing it as a “really old movie”, to which he replied: “It’s not really old! It’s from my teenage years!” 

Tyler Durden’s minimalism is a co-option that represents his scepticism with ownership. 

“People are looking around and saying ‘this is not sustainable’. I also think people are a little bit more sensitive environmentally as well. If you look at a suburban street, and just think to yourself 25 houses means 25 lawnmowers, 25 this, 25 that, 25 the other.” 

Conway spoke energetically about the trials and tribulations of ownership, before stopping himself. 

“I’m not suggesting communism, I’m not trying to start pulling stuff in some sort of weird communal shed … I am unashamedly capitalist. 

“If you’ve inherited it or you just have loads of property, having £100 m and then going out and buying 50 more apartments and increasing your value, that’s not capitalism. You haven’t created any …” 

Conway catches himself before finishing his sentence. “Well, that’s just being completely honest. And let’s get rid of this thing that capitalism is evil. Capitalism isn’t evil. Being greedy is evil.” 

Jamie Conway CV 

Conway graduated from University College Dublin, reading in English, Philosophy and Psychology, before completing a Master’s degree in Theatre and Film at Trinity College Dublin 

He spent more than a decade working in television in Ireland and the UK, guiding businesses to Bafta and Royal Television Society awards recognition 

Conway left his position at Comux UK, a broadcast media company operating digital transmission infrastructure, in late 2019 to work on WhyBuy full time. 

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/07/13/new-app-users-rent-strangers-stuff-isnt-communism-says-founder