Harsh Dhand, Co founder & CEO of RentSher, has transformed from being a research scientist post graduation from IIT-Delhi in 2004-05 in CSE, he was a batch topper and first job in computer Science applications in Healthcare & Lifestyle to leading ventures on the business expansion path from seed stage to market entry and expansion. Last 5 years, he has headed Business Development activities for new technology initiatives in both B2B and B2C space, with hands on experience in managing the complete sales cycle from pre-sales, marketing, negotiations, contracting and execution / delivery of projects.
Tell us something about yourself and what Rentsher does?
RentSher is India and UAE’s only omni-channel Rental Concierge Service and caters to customers looking for rental solutions for events, electronics, A/V, and medical needs. Initially conceived of a peer-to-peer rental marketplace, we found ourselves shifting focus to cater to existing rental businesses as a platform and enabler. Today, RentSher works on a vendor-led model which lists products available for rent from a variety of vendors and across various locations, allowing vendors to receive orders from customers through the platform. The company is providing a one-stop-shop for rentals with easy discoverability, full transparency and doorstep delivery. Living up to its “Renting Made Easy” mission, RentSher makes renting products as easy as booking bus or movie tickets.
RentSher is perhaps the only Seed stage startup which has spanned across and opened operations in UAE, this is achievable due to the net unit economics being positive and a clear focus on short term event rentals, which are big not only in India but in other developing countries.
What inspired you to do this and how has your entrepreneurship been so far?
We had all spent nearly a decade working in the corporate sector, and we all wanted to do something new and exciting. In 2015, the buzz around concepts like the sharing economy and rentals was just beginning, but we found it to be one of the most compelling market trends at the time. We were amazed at how companies like Uber and Airbnb had tapped into the idea of making non-ownership convenient. Prior to these companies, the most convenient way to accomplish something was to own the tools, and have them available. With this in mind, we build the first platform in late 2015. We got impressive traction and some invaluable customer feedback which helped us grow the business and raise two rounds of funding.
What makes you so different from other players in the industry?
RentSher is the only Asset-light Rental marketplace in the eco-system and also enabling short term rentals. We look at rental as more a need and do not push to customers if they do not want something. We evaluated the market and found that most rental product providers had moved to long-term subscription based rentals because the same amount of effort in customer acquisition led to more regular revenue over time. But we were already using technology to ensure maximum efficiency, and this wasn’t a big concern – in fact, it became the new challenge. This is why we took a different path and decided to become the market leader for short-term rentals across categories.
Currently, in terms of market penetration where do you stand and what’s your traction till date?
Today, 700 vendors across 10 cities in the two countries provide rental products and services through RentSher. Over 100 SMEs and startups and more than 60,000 customers have made use of RentSher’s services. This year alone we have provided rentals for more than 3000 events.
What challenges did you face the most during this and how do you plan to overcome them?
- Organizing just in time operations: One of our biggest USPs is our comprehensive end-to-end service, which requires us to manage operations very efficiently. Optimising operations for Just-in-time delivery and pickup – especially during the peak season – was very challenging. On some days we had to deal with 1000 queries and deliver 200 orders.
- Choice between business models: The nature of the renting business changes completely depending upon whether a rental is short-term or long-term. While both such rental types are ripe for disruption based on technology, it was often challenging to deal with both different types while maintaining focus on our USP.
As with all operations challenges today, we first looked at technology as a resource. We realised that through more careful planning and modeling, we could build technology-led solutions to enable scalability. We also incentivized our vendors to pitch in and handle some deliveries and minimize RentSher’s operational responsibilities. In what is a great consequence, this new model of sharing delivery responsibility has also made the process of launching operations in new cities shorter for us.