A Q&A with Rentalic

Update December 6, 2018: Rentalic is now CloudofGoods.com.

Yesterday, Rentalic launched the public beta version of its website, where "people in need of goods or services, such as sporting goods, electronics, text books, tools and toys, can connect with their counterparts who are offering these goods or services for rent."

Their slogan: "Rent. Share. Be Green."

Shareable.net really likes the idea of Rentalic--which we hope you'll consider joining--and so we put a few questions to CEO Punsri Abeywickrema and Business development lead Eranga Jayawardena. 

Q: How did Rentalic get started?

Punsri Abeywickrema: Some time last year, I was faced with a common problem that many people in our society face: I was re-doing my backyard and needed a wheelbarrow.

Even though buying a wheelbarrow is not very expensive, I did not want to own one because it takes up space to store it. I knew that my neighbor has a wheelbarrow just sitting in their backyard, but felt bad borrowing it yet again for free, as I have already borrowed it a few times.

I started thinking: "What if my neighbor rented it out for a small fee?" Then I would not feel bad about borrowing it again, and the neighbor gets the added benefit of making some extra cash from an item that just sits in their back yard.

After talking to many friends, colleagues, and family members, I decided that its the time to solve this very common problem by putting a "rent" spin on sharing to take out the "feel bad" factor of borrowing and make it more practical among the masses of people. If the person down the street is renting what you need for a few bucks, then you dont feel bad borrowing it, and they dont feel bad lending it out.

Q: What is the change you want to make in the world with Rentalic?

Punsri Abeywickrema: I always wanted to do something that helps people and helps the environment at the same time. At present, the most common issues in people's mind are the economy and the environment. With Rentalic, I hope to help masses of people to save money, earn money, and save the environment.

Most people want to do the right thing for the environment, but they dont know how without having to spend a lot of money. When people think of "being green", they think of solar panels, electric cars, etc. that are expensive and not very accessible to masses of people. Even if we somehow figure out a way to make those greener products affordable to everyone, it takes up more resources to manufacture those products. It could take years for us to see the net benefit of reducing the environmental impact from those products.

So, how can we enable masses of people to help save the environment without making it expensive and without manufacturing new things that takes up more resources? With Rentalic, we hope to do just that. My vision is to empower everyone to help make the world a better place for our future generations. With Rentalic, We enable communities to reduce the carbon footprint while enabling people to save money and make money.

Q: Tell me about your team.

Punsri Abeywickrema: We have a very diverse team representing many nationalities, many cultures, and probably all the major religions. We started with friends, and then grew to friends of friends, and now we are starting to grow outside of our circles of friends to bring in the talent set required to make this a success. Most of the team live in the Silicon valley. We have a four-person development team in India. Our silicon valley team operates out of my garage.

We all believe in this concept and how it could change the lives of people for many generations to come. What gets us going and makes us put long crazy work hours and sleepless nights in building the site is the enormous potential it has in helping save the environment when we manage to get masses of people to adopt to the concept of "share and re-use" through renting.

Q: How has your team's connection to the developing world influenced Rentalic?

Eranga Jayawardena: Yes indeed. The founder and two other members are originally from Sri Lanka, and the co-founder is originally from the Philippines. Our childhood experiences contribute to the environment we are trying to create.

In today's society, due to economic pressure, people are stuck in a routine or a cycle which hard to break away from. Busy lifestyles create separations within communities. Neighbors become strangers and strangers keep apart. However, in developing countries, especially in the suburbs, people are still able to maintain close relationships with each other. Such relationships foster sharing with each other.

Through Rentalic our intention is to promote and re-introduce such practices. When neighbors meet to exchange items that foster and reignite a relationship. That bring communities together.

Q: What have you learned about sharing as you've developed Rentalic?

Eranga Jayawardena: Natural instinct of people is to help others. However we have identified the most common reason for such practice not to take place is due to fear of becoming a victim of their own generosity. Hence we see the need to have a platform where individuals can share items with each other in a secure and a convenient environment.

Q: What is your strategy to encourage people to share?  

Eranga Jayawardena: We want to introduce a lifestyle which has many benefits. We have identified primary reasons why individuals are reluctant to share. We present our clients with a solution which is secure and convenient, that allows them to safely share their items and services. Also. we do everything to make sure the experience is fun and rewarding. 

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