Innumerable entrepreneurs have applied Airbnb’s business model to various vertical markets, so it’s no surprise that surfing entrepreneurs would create a peer-to-peer marketplace for renting surfboards.
I’m not a particularly great surfer, but more than once, I’ve been in a surf destination, without a board. The airlines are notorious for damaging surfboards and boards are, frankly, a hassle to lug through the airport. I usually surf a standup board, which is humongous and not practical to take on a trip. As such, I found The Quiver’s business model of particular interest.
The Quiver – The Airbnb of Surfboard Rentals
Degree 33 Surfboards
For those not steeped in surfer lingo, a “quiver” refers to a surfer’s arsenal of surfboards. Most avid surfers have multiple boards, each optimized to make the most of diverse surf conditions. This collection of surfboards is referred to as a surfer’s “quiver.”
Extending The Rental Economy To Surfing
What was once called the “sharing economy” has evolved into the “rental economy,” in which marketplaces allow consumers to rent their property when it’s not in use. For instance, Pavemint allows you to rent someone’s driveway, while EVmatch allows you to charge your e-car at someone’s home charger. Now surfers can similarly turn their unused boards into cash.
I reached out to Joe Wilson, Co-Founder of The Quiver, to learn more about his approach to creating a peer-to-peer surfboard marketplace.
John Greathouse: Hey Joe. I assume you’re an avid surfer. What is The Quiver’s origin story? Were you somewhere with epic waves and you couldn’t didn’t have a board?
Joe Wilson: I have been surfing since I was a kid and have had the opportunity to travel around the world chasing waves with friends. I’ve also experienced arriving at a destination with a bag of broken surfboards, which cost way more than the price of my seat.
My partner Rob Bonvetti originally came up with the idea, when he was in the market for a new board and researching options online. He then started thinking about how nice it would be to demo a board before actually sinking money into buying one.
We shared the realization that there needed to be a marketplace to rent boards and fast forward to today – we’ve partnered up and I’m leading the big relaunch of The Quiver. What was once an idea, and need we both knew existed, has now turned into a marketplace where surfers are renting out their spare boards in over twenty countries.
It’s not just about renting a board while traveling either. Surfers are using The Quiver to demo a board before buying it and trying out unique boards listed on the marketplace.
Greathouse: The Quiver has been around for a while now. How has your business model changed – why are you confident that the idea take off this time around?
Wilson: We actually have a totally new look and feel to our marketplace that you’ll notice. After a few years of understanding how surfers were using The Quiver, what features were most important to them, and other feedback from our community, we totally redesigned our marketplace. This is everything from new branding, to the user experience and even new and improved core functionality that we’ve added. I couldn’t be more proud of the new and improved The Quiver marketplace.
Greathouse: Two-sided markets are hard to pull off. How many boards do you have available? What sort of uptick have you seen with the launch of the new site?
Wilson: So, we don’t share the exact number of bookings, but The Quiver has enabled a global board-sharing community. We have thousands of boards listed, with an even larger community of users that are searching the marketplace to plan their next rental.
Like other sharing economy marketplaces, we’ve also heard stories of friendships starting with a Quiver rental and people becoming travel buddies for surf trips, strike missions, and so on. This is what really gets us excited and motivates us to build the best and most trusted online community for renting surfboards. Our overall mission is to make surfboards more accessible and to bring people together.
Greathouse: Most successful, two-sided markets are rolled out regionally, to ensure that each local market will have a critical mass of “buyers and sellers” – both Uber and Airbnb took this incremental approach. How do, or did, you address this issue of ensuring that there are enough boards in a particular market so that to satisfy renters’ demands?
Wilson: Our roll-out philosophy was “think big.” The mindset has always been to make a global impact and we designed the platform accordingly.
We’ve recently had new listings in Barcelona, Portugal, Japan, and the Mentawai Islands to name a few. The Quiver also serves as a surfboard concierge. For example, if a surfer is going to a location where we don’t have a board available, we will reach out to our connections in the surfing community and find them a board.
Greathouse: The Mentawai Islands – never heard of them but sounds like a spot I should visit. I would assume surf shops would see The Quiver as a way to bring in foot traffic and make some incremental revenue on their refurbished inventory. What’s the mix of folks who submit boards for rentals, between individuals and surf shops?
Wilson: You’re absolutely right. We’ve received a ton of interest since the relaunch from shops and (surfboard) shapers who want to get involved. We’re getting ready to announce our partner program that includes board demos and other ways to connect and tap into our surf-obsessed community. Our partner program will include some of the most trusted industry names and established shapers, companies and shops in the mix.
Greathouse: What’s next for The Quiver? Do you plan to expand to the rental of related equipment?
Wilson: We have quite a few huge announcements coming up that I’m not ready to share just yet. I will mention that you will soon see larger board brand partnerships, demo programs, and even new categories and types of listings on The Quiver that are aligned with our mission. Be sure to stay connected on Instagram @thequiverhq where we share big news first.