Building a Kayak Sharing Economy


I am building a sharing economy for paddle sports and currently in the process of interviewing potential customers. Please reach out if you are interested in answering a 5-10 minute survey. Your time and effort is greatly appreciated. I can be contacted via email at

Thank you in advance for your time!


You could start by explaining what a “paddle sports sharing economy” is.

I already share my kayaks. The economy is good will.

What Magooch said.

No thanks.

GearCities is going to be a rental platform for outdoor gear. Think Airbnb for outdoor gear. I came up with this concept when my girlfriend and I were in Colorado on a hiking trip. We came across a few lakes with people kayaking. We searched for a store that rented kayaks but the closest one was about 35 miles away which turned us away from renting the kayaks. Half of the lake was bordered with homes, most of which had kayaks, canoes, row boats, etc. on the grass by the shore line and I kept saying “I wish we could rent a kayak from a home owner”. After the trip I went home, did some research and realized that the rental opportunities for outdoor gear was very limited, and that there were pain points in the rental experience that could be fixed. This is why I am building GearCities and I think the sharing economy business model is the way to go about it because it will increase the convenience for Renters, making the gear more accessible (instead of a 35 mile drive). The other aspect it solves is that it eliminates most of the barriers to entry for this business. The startup costs for a rental company are high, you have to pay for the property, the gear you’ll be renting (which is expensive), employees, the list goes on. While on the other side of the spectrum, the rental company will typically only drive income for one or two seasons of the year rather than year round, which makes the margins thin.

My goal is to increase the number of people enjoying the outdoors, I think enhancing the convenience of getting outdoors will help in doing so tremendously.

If you are interested in lending a hand by providing a few minutes of your time, please contact me at

Again, thank you in advance for your time it is very much appreciated.

Best regards,

Good luck with that.

only 35 miles? and for that, you didn’t kayak…interesting…

@roym said:
only 35 miles? and for that, you didn’t kayak…interesting…

They didn’t rent boats to customers.

A similar service has been tried, with apparently limited results. Here was a prior thread similar to this:

In general, it seems that most members of this board aren’t interested in trying this service, either as a user or a renter.

I am happy to lent boats or other equipment to people I know who I trust to use said equipment responsibly and exercise due caution in avoiding damage.

I would have many concerns about renting equipment to someone I do not know. Would I see my boat again? Would it be damaged? And if used irresponsibly in a way that resulted in death or injury of an individual, would I be held liable?

Considering what a litigious society we have turned into, you might want to determine how these “Yak-Uber” businesses will obtain liability insurance for use of their equipment. The possibilities for loss are enormous. Don’t want to sound negative, but you want to keep both eyes open.

What about life jackets? One size does not fit all. Ditto for paddles.

I admit I’m curious how many lakefront home owners would agree to rent their kayaks to strangers. Just about every home where I live is a weekend “cabin.” About 99% have kayaks but I can’t imagine any agreeing to have unknown people park in their driveways and interrupt beach/family activities so they could rent their kayaks.

Another consideration is local zoning. Lakefront homes aren’t zoned commercial and if one is providing equipment in exchange for money, that would constitute a business. The homeowner may have to apply for a permit if the local ordinance requires.

In addition to the liability insurance question, who pays full replacement value of any kayak not returned, or returned damaged? If the kayak is rented, am guessing the insurance company will require a commercial policy be written.

The devil is in the details.

@Rookie said:

I admit I’m curious how many lakefront home owners would agree to rent their kayaks to strangers.

That would be me and mine. We worked long and hard to be waterfront property owners. Those boats, grass, docks, observation deck etc are for our enjoyment. If we wanted strangers to come over and rent boats we’d run a store, marina, etc. Don’t need the money, bother or hassel.

Too busy for renting boats to people who can’t plan ahead and want to kayak with no commitment.

We have a Canoe club member that wanted to get one of those started with private boats from the boat house. Not his …no details…not volunteering to run it. Just an idea man. Haven’t heard from him since.

Of course we had another member that is proud he doesn’t have a computor, Facebook account, Meet Up, or email. But he complained that he felt cut off from the club.

So rezcher14 own it, organize it, finance it, and run it. Use the inputs as valid information in a positive light. Good luck.

Insurance is the biggy. Then legally you have a business licence and collect and report sales tax. Because the neighbors may get pissed about the traffic and report you.

Without knowing the details of Rob’s plans I would be deeply concerned about safety. At least with a physical (not virtual) outfitter there is some chance that someone with knowledge and experience (a subject matter expert) will interface with customers and try to make sure they have appropriate equipment. Physical outfitters can also close down when the weather is too dangerous for paddling.

With no expert in the loop it sounds like the blind leading the blind which seems guaranteed to put more beginners in danger.

Personally I don’t think it’s a matter of liability insurance since it seems easy enough to make sure the rental agreement absolves everyone but the customer of liability. I’d look at it as a moral issue. Our local nature center recently closed down our wood shop just to eliminate the potential for personal injury after we decided that safety was the core issue, not liability insurance.

We found out that just being one of many named in a claim it affects your renewal costs whether you are libel or not as long as there is an open case. We stopped certain activities also.

This might seem like a good idea, if paddling (safely) was a common skill among the masses - like driving or even riding a bicycle. But it isn’t - box store ad copy notwithstanding.

Who, among us, has the time to screen potential renters for competency - let alone body size?

Another competitor. This email came in to our club:

On Aug 10, 2018, at 2:07 PM, Mandy Nalbach wrote:

We are Expeerent, a new peer to peer equipment rental service. We are hoping that you will consider sharing the attached information about our new business with your club members.
Our site allows you to list and rent out your unused equipment allowing you to make extra money.
There is no charge to sign up and rent out your equipment.

Thank you for your time! Have a great weekend.

Mandy Nalbach
Expeerent Team

E: m

Interesting site, that expeerent. Well organized and actually has a few kayaks available in FL, MD, NC, VA and WI. Mostly box store type boats or SOTs. The WI listings include WW boats, a tow behind cooler, and a few others. Maybe they belong to owners of the site, since it originates in WI?