The rental revolution is coming – get on board

The rental revolution is coming. WhyBuy owns 100s of products so you don’t have to.

WE have found, at WhyBuy headquarters, that our biggest barrier to market dominance is going to be the presumption that rental companies – unless heavy machinery is involved – will be peer to peer. The perception is that peer-to-peer is inconsistent at best and grubby at worst. We make sure that our products are nicely packaged and as good as new, every time.

ARE we, as a nation, prepared to step out of our habit of buying? Germany has the greatest proportion of home-renters in Europe, and Germans still prefer to rent accommodation rather than own it. Less than 40 per cent of the population own the homes that they live in compared with more than 65% in Britain. We have been a nation of buyers not renters, and the economics of renting are perceived to be expensive. They needn’t be.

NOT only is WhyBuy the only rental business for fun stuff in London, but also we are competing actively in markets that we’re told are saturated. We hire out all the items that customers don’t want to own forever.

PEER research was the foundation of WhyBuy, where all of Jamie Conway’s London-based friends and family banded together to be a sounding board for WhyBuy’s launch in June 2020. That group provided key insights into the need for convenience to make the business work. This is why WhyBuy delivers and collects in a one-hour slot.

TO make sure that all products are working, clean and easy to use, we make sure every product is re-cleaned in the warehouse if it’s left on the shelf for more than a week. Before any item is sent out, it’s re-cleaned and re-checked to make sure all the extra parts are still in the box. What’s more the ‘how-to-use’ one-pager might not replace the manufacturer’s manual, but it’s written to be a quick set up guide.

PEER into the future, and we’ll see that renting will become the norm. WhyBuy is set up to make it easy for people to embrace this future sooner rather than later.

And since you’ve read this far, there’s one message, I’d like to reinforce. Please read the first word of each paragraph.

Written by James Welch, WhyBuy Commercial Director, first posted here

Our sustainability goal #2: building confidence in our green practices

WhyBuy’s approach to sustainability, part two: keeping our processes as green as we can

WhyBuy is the blend of providing access to a catalogue of items that are frequently needed but where ownership is hassle.  While peer to peer in small communities can seem appealing, the lack of consistency in quality, cleanliness , range and pricing has meant they have not taken off.  People want the confidence from a business that what they order is as good as if they had bought it themselves and WhyBuy can provide this.

Operationally, WhyBuy is one of the greenest startups ever founded.  The delivery fleet is made up entirely of Electric vans and are charged overnight at the company delivery centre from green electricity providers.  There is almost zero waste generated by the business as customers return any consumables (such as printer cartridges and paper or cleaning fluid in carpet shampooers) they have not used and packaging is reused and reconditioned.  In effect, a customer renting a Hot Tub from WhyBuy generates less carbon in receiving their order and powering the Hot Tub than their friends generate in travelling to them to use it by taxi.  Waste is the enemy of the company, even when it comes to time and for this reason WhyBuy lets customers select specific collection and delivery times so they are not wasting time waiting at home like other delivery providers.

It is the goal of the company to bring the amount of waste and packaging used to an absolute minimum and 100% of all waste to be recyclable.  At present, the only single use plastic being utilized is for wrapping certain items that have been sanitized as part of Covid19 preparation for items that are delivered unboxed such as Professional Spin Bikes and Baby High Chairs but need to be protected during the pandemic and where paper products would not suffice.

This is a key part of the blending of environmental sustainability and meeting consumer demand.  WhyBuy doesn’t believe that either of these core aspects of a 21st century company need to be compromised for the other – they actually complement each other.  The need for environmentally responsible business is what gives customers what they need and saves them money.

As part of this ambition, the company is capable of tracking the carbon savings that customers make by hiring rather than owning items that are infrequently used.  It is intended that in future releases, customers will see the amount of carbon they have saved by using a hired item rather than purchasing a brand new one and we intend to reward customers who reach certain milestones.  To do this, WhyBuy wishes to engage with Small World Consulting as the method of measuring the carbon cost of individual items in an accurate way will require specialist advice and assistance.  No only will we be showing customers how much money they save, we will be showing them the volume of carbon they have saved by hiring rather than buying.

Written by Jamie Conway, WhyBuy founder and CEO

Our sustainability goal #1: 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.

Written by Jamie Conway, WhyBuy founder and CEO

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.