When we last caught up with Getable, the startup formerly known as Rentcycle, it was announcing that Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph was joining Collaborative Fund founder Craig Shapiro and OpenTable founder Chuck Templeton on its board of directors.
In becoming Getable, the startup began moving away from its original mission: To bring the entire rental industry online by offering free, realtime reservations for everyday renters and business management tools for local rental shops. Re-branding, it took a page from OpenTable, expanding its support for business owners by offering cloud-based management tools and in-store hardware to help them manage reservations, organize inventory and so on.
But that didn’t quite stick, or rather, through the process, Getable has identified a more appealing opportunity. Today, the startup is unveiling a new product (and another new direction) aimed at the largest segment of the rental industry: Tools and equipment. As part of this transition, Getable is becoming a mobile-first business and has created a product that is geared exclusively to general contractors and those to whom they rent their construction equipment.
Considering there are over 10M general contractors in the U.S., the tool and equipment category represents a $32 billion market and one that’s projected to reach $46 billion by 2016. While that’s still a sizable market, it’s a fraction of the $85 billion rental industry, which includes tools, party supplies, sports equipment and more — the one Getable was initially targeting when it launched as Rentcycle back in 2009.
But Getable founder Tim Hyer tells us that, over the last year, the tool and equipment industry has far and away been its most active and loyal category, so Getable is now opting for a new, albeit-related direction: Solving the inefficiencies in the tool and equipment rental space with a dose of mobile technology.
Of course, when a startup pivots multiple times in the course of its first couple of years, it’s bound to make investors, customers, writers and the company itself a little nervous. Traditionally, pivots, although often trumpeted by the media as brilliant, positive strategic moves, are, of course, inherently a sign that the startup was ill-positioned from the start.
On the other hand, generalizing is a dangerous sport, and each case is unique: Oftentimes, changes in direction or pivots (to go with the over-used buzzword du jour), are just what a stagnating company or product needs to jumpstart its team and its business. Many entrepreneurs will tell you that pivoting or tweaking until a startup finds product-market fit is not only advisable, but can be the best course of action — depending on the concept, the team and the market itself, of course.
But, pivoting, like acq-hires do have a tendency to be overplayed as “wins” for the startup in question, when in reality, an acqui-hire or a pivot inherently represent “settling” or “failing” — even in a world where 90 percent of the game is failure.
In Getable’s case, Hyer is relieved, as he believes that the startup has finally found a problem their solution can solve, and pent-up demand that scalable mobile technology can solve (potentially with high margins to boot). The founder also tells us that, over the last several months, Getable received a couple of acquisition offers, which, if he and the team didn’t believe had gold at the end of the tunnel, they might have opted to sell and try again.
It also helps that the startup’s investors are on board and willing to back its new direction. Getable quietly announced today that it has closed its second round of financing — a bridge-style seed round of $1.8 million — which brings the startup’s total funding to $3.2 million. Investors in the round included Andreessen Horowitz, Founder Collective, Promus Ventures and Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital — who has also backed companies like Uber and StyleSeat.
The startup will use its new capital to beef up its engineering team and build out its mobile product for contractors. The new construction rental product is currently in alpha mode, as it works with a few strategic partners on product development, Hyer tells us.
The iPhone app will be designed exclusively for contractors to help them complete equipment management both on and off the job site, including the creation of new reservations, requesting service and maintenance, pick-up and drop-off scheduling and visibility into what’s happening on the job site in realtime. The idea is to build a realtime connection between rental merchants and their customers, the founder says, in much the same way Uber connects its drivers with those in need of a lift.
To help jumpstart its new direction, Getable has hired Mikael Rogers as its new CTO. Rogers was most recently at Yammer, where he was the company’s Developer Advocate. Prior to that, he held positions at OSAF, Mozilla and CouchOne and founded his own startup in Gather, along with being an active supporter of the node.js community and helping to organize and launch the annual NodeConf.
Of course, while the startup is looking forward to getting new blood in the mix, it also means that Getable co-founder (and previously its CTO), Ludo Goarin, will be leaving the company.
Pivots and exits aside, both present and departed co-founders think that Getable is in the process of positioning itself much more effectively and now has the chance to actually build a sustainable, revenue-generating business. Going the B2B route is key — and an underutilized strategic route. Everyone wants to build the $10 billion consumer business, a la Dropbox or Instagram.
“It’s funny, because construction truly represents the original mobile workforce, so it’s hard to believe that contractors and construction workers lack access to great mobile products that help them manage such key components of their jobs,” Rogers says of Getable’s new direction.
For more, find Getable at home here.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch