Inspired by his experience of moving location frequently, alumnus Andrea Guzzoni (Msc Strategic Marketing 2014) struck upon the idea of Rentuu.com, an online platform providing a service for renting anything you need be it for your house, rented apartment, or even camping trip! In this Q&A Andrea talks to us about how he started the business and his future plans:
What inspired you to launch Rentuu.com?
Being a frequent business and leisure traveller, coupled with my experience with moving a lot and working abroad, I found it frustrating that there were no straightforward platforms for renting household items online. It made no sense for me to spend money on, say an air mattress or a grill, only to have to get rid of it a couple of months’ down the line. This was particularly pertinent when living in London: storage space was scarce, and it felt both wasteful from an environmental perspective as well as from a budget perspective, to buy things only to use them a handful of times.
The online rental companies I did come across were either P2P – which meant there was no guarantee of quality – or were extremely difficult to navigate. Why would I want to phone up a company to book a stroller for my sister and her baby? It really struck me that we can order food, electronics – almost anything, really – online, but we still can’t hire items in a hassle-free way. That’s essentially how Rentuu came about!
What is the biggest challenge of being a start-up?
Hiring! I still find it difficult to gauge a candidate’s suitability for a role based solely on their CV and interview, so finding the right people has been a real challenge. And, of course, as a founder you are responsible entirely for your successes and your failures – this creates immense internal pressure. You can’t just take two days off work and switch off like you would if you were working for someone else; your business is always on your mind. You’re also hyper-conscious of making sure your team, your investors and your partners are all happy, which, again, can be challenging and a great source of stress.
How did your time at Imperial College Business School help prepare you for launching your start-up?
I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly tech-savvy before I went to the Business School. However, attending one of the leading science-focused Universities in the world was a hugely rewarding experience, largely thanks to the incredible people that I had the pleasure to meet. The focus on innovation, technology and the power to shape and change the world was hugely inspiring, and I’m very grateful for being a part of such a rigorous and stimulating environment.
What are you future plans for the business?
We want to revolutionise the travel and hospitality industries while keeping a sharp focus on sustainability. Customisation is a huge ‘buzzword’ at the moment, and for good reason – customers want a more tailored experience when they travel which means being able to have access to things traditional hotel rooms or apartment rentals might not have. We also believe in reshaping the future of ownership; as populations and communities continue to be more fluid in their travel, so do their needs. Rentuu hopes to expand to the great metropolis cities like New York, Hong-Kong and Amsterdam – easing every travellers’, residents’ and expats’ consumer lives.
After all, the key question we all need to ask ourselves is really quite simple: why would you buy it, when you can just rent it?
Do you have any words of advice for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
I found The Lean Startup methodology to be extremely helpful. The book by Eric Ries is a must-read for anyone thinking of launching their own business. I’m glad our website went live in a sort of draft form before I decided to quit my job and take on the business in its entirety. I’d say that being able to test the product or service before really diving into it, to better understand whether there is a demand for what you’re doing, is crucial.
You can find out more about the service Rentuu.com offers and read the company blog here.