The ‘eBay of rentals’ aiming to boost the circular economy

Enterprise: Releaseit

Green Credentials: The platform is empowering retailers to tap into the most powerful demographic in the market, which is eagerly adopting more sustainable lifestyle practices.

Releaseit, officially founded in January 2021 and launched on 15 October 2021, is the brainchild of co-founders Peter Krideras and Stephen Kulmar. Peter is the co-founder of Click Frenzy and Steve is a retail veteran who’s consulted to the who’s who of the industry through his RetailOasis consultancy.

With so much experience, the pair identified a global shift in consumer behaviour. “We are at a turning point where Gen Y and Z are starting to dominate the market in terms of both population and spend,” Peter says. “These audiences are quickly adopting more sustainable lifestyle practices and are looking for ways to lessen their environmental footprint.”

The pair saw rapid growth in the circular economy and the opportunity to introduce a business that was a true circular model, not just one that focused purely on the exchange of goods via a sale. “We set out to build a sustainable marketplace that played into ‘re-commerce’ with rental as a way to reuse,” Peter explains. “We built and launched our centralised marketplace for all things rental, bringing together both community-driven and commercial models.”

Describing Releaseit as “like the eBay of rentals”, Peter explains that ‘seekers’ of rental items can use the platform to rent stuff from either members of their community – peers, neighbours or local businesses – or existing rental businesses that are Releaseit’s commercial partners. “If seekers rent from members of their community, the rental agreement will happen on our platform,” Peter says. “If they click on a product and are redirected to another website, they’re renting an item from one of our commercial partners and their lease will be organised through this rental company and will follow their terms and conditions.”

The business has partnered with financial software-as-a-service provider Stripe to make its community as safe and secure as possible. And, to add another layer of protection, the owner is able to set a security deposit that’s collected from the seeker and held by Releaseit for the duration of each rental period.

Further to these protections, Peter and Stephen see reviews as critical to Releaseit’s success. “Both owners and seekers will review each other and seekers will also have the opportunity to review the rental product,” Peter explains. “These ratings will go a long way in ensuring you are dealing with a reputable owner or seeker and that the product is fit for purpose.”

From the outset, the business has aimed at achieving B-Corp status. While the team work towards this goal they are focusing on minimising their footprint and operating as efficiently as they can. To that end, they have moved their offices to Workit Spaces in Alexandria. “They have an amazing sustainability program in place – it was important to work out of a space that values the environment,” Peter explains.

Peter is very excited about the talent he and Stephen have been able to attract to the business. “We have built a strong technology team, with ex-Appliances Online CTO Tim Griffin at the helm, supported by a well-laid out marketing strategy [from] our marketplace strategy manager, Kate Hall,” he says. “Having the likes of Paul Greenberg, Julie Mathers (Flora & Fauna), Hugo Dudley-Smith (Gresham Partners) and Sandradee Makejev (St Frock), among others, as angel investors and then completing a successful capital raise of $3 million continues to validate our belief in our research that a marketplace like Releaseit is long overdue.”

Working on positioning itself as the rental authority in Australia, Releaseit continues to grow partnerships with existing rental companies and focus on its community model. Next year, Peter and Stephen are looking to roll out a retail-to-rent proposition, following numerous retail enquiries about the model and how they can be involved.

This article first appeared in issue 35 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine