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Recently on Global Startup Report, Founder Institute was pleased to be joined live by Peerby Founder & CEO Daan Weddepohl to learn about the Netherlands-based circular sharing startup that raised €2.3M in May 2022 for its continued expansion.

Peerby, an Amsterdam Founder Institute portfolio company, is the sharing economy marketplace where users can borrow and rent household items from neighbors across 5000+ neighborhoods. The company's objective has always been to connect neighbors to one another, and reduce waste and emissions. Peerby plans to use the new capital investment to increase its total impact, and expand the number of cities where the lending platform operates—in its hometown of Amsterdam, 1 in 4 households is already a Peerby member!

Watch our full July 2022 interview with Peerby Founder & CEO Daan Weddepohl here, or read the highlights below:

Key Founder Insights & Highlights:

  • CEO Daan Weddepohl's deeply personal backstory to founding Peerby, after a tragic fire destroyed most of his material possessions, and in the aftermath shifted his perspective on the de-facto 'independent lifestyle' of many consumers in the developed world today
  • The 'Idle Capacity' of many consumer products, and the shift from 'Ownership to Access' that proponents of the Sharing Economy espouse, for a variety of potential environmental as well as social/communal benefits
  • Daan Weddepohl's current travel journeying across the USA, exploring the different 'sharing cultures' and the dynamics of various cities and neighborhoods across the country (Boulder, Austin, Seattle) in order to explore best locations for potential US expansion
  • Scaling up a startup smartly through careful and deliberate iteration, and what it means in practice to scale an 'anti-cyclical' company (one that grows most when wider economic conditions are generally more negative)
  • Unique challenges of running a marketplace platform where elements like seasonality and macroeconomic conditions also interact with the normal supply and demand sides of the lending and borrowing equation
  • How local cultural differences (like US driving culture versus Amsterdam bicycle culture) affect elements of Peerby's platform in those areas, such as maximum distance a user will travel to lend or borrow an item, or what types of products can be transported to be shared
  • Key differentiation between platforms like NextDoor, including safety check on users on the platform, warranties against damages for items lended through the platform, and a live inventory of products available to borrow in your neighborhood

As Peerby Founder & CEO Daan Weddepohl explains, the idea of a lending and borrowing platform is not exactly unique—but it is deceivingly simple—founded in 2012, the practice of executing effectively on that idea has been the work of a ten year journey for the Founder and team at Peerby, iterating and building upon the company's learnings over time.

This type of business model, sharing the long tail of consumer goods, is an idea that's been around for a long time... and it's a deceivingly simple idea—like it's very easy to explain, everybody kind of gets it, everybody understands what it is and and why it would be good to do it. But it's actually super hard to execute on it, because it's this combination basically of 'horror business models'—taking a marketplace that has low order value, products that are used at a low frequency; and then trying to do that on a hyper local level, where you need a thousand product categories per neighborhood to actually create the liquidity that makes the marketplace work, and then finding the demand to go with it—so it's been quite the journey to try and solve that puzzle.

However, as attested by Peerby's investors in its recent €2.3M funding round, consumers do strongly believe in the future of the Sharing Economy, and in Founder Daan Weddepohl's vision for the platform. In fact, Peerby has been growing at record pace over the past few years, and with the new injection of capital, is actively looking to expand to new markets. At the time of our July 2022 interview, Weddepohl was currently traveling throughout the US, to learn about the local 'sharing cultures' across various potential geographic target markets. He explains,

What I'm really trying to understand [in visiting various cities throughout the US] is, not from an analytical standpoint and not necessarily something I can [quantify] for you, but I think what I'm trying to really grasp is is what it does it feel like to live here, so that when we go back and start adjusting the product and we try to run all kinds of experiments to see how people behave on the on the platform, what I'm hoping to get is sort of a general 'gut feel' for why might this not work the way we expected, if we start seeing certain numbers. It's like, 'Oh it's probably because some people need to go somewhere by car, or it's maybe because mailboxes are in a different position' ... So there's there's probably a thousand little things that are different, and some might have an influence and some might have zero influence—so it's really about trying to get a real feel for the culture, before we start trying to analyze user behavior on the platform.

When asked about potential competitors in the US market (like Facebook marketplace, Craigslist or NextDoor) Peerby Founder Daan Weddepohl was quite optimistic, seeing much greater scope for partnership and collaboration, particularly with NextDoor, versus outright competition with those platforms, noting,

When I look at NextDoor, I actually don't see them as a competitor, I see them as a potential partner. I was actually talking to the Head of Product of at NextDoor the other day, and we talked about how NextDoor basically can be an operating system for the neighborhood—there's so many applications for a local network, and it's really hard and really expensive to have to set up a network like that... it's probably going to require too much capital, too much work, too much understanding of all these different types of [lending and borrowing] value propositions for NextDoor to open up every type of application that is possible within that local network. So I think what we're doing is sort of a perfect match for NextDoor—we have a very specific offering that we can bring to that local network; and they have that local network, but they don't have the time or the expertise to really focus on the niche that we're in.

Are you someone living in the United States, and think that Peerby should bring its Sharing Economy platform to your own neighborhood? Then Founder Daan Weddepohl wants to hear from you!

People can shoot me an emailI'd love to hear about people's neighborhood experiences and sharing cultures, and why they think Peerby might be good fit for where they live (*or a terrible fit, I'm happy to hear that too, so that we can try to avoid those places). But I'm very curious about peoples' ideas around sharing in America, if they have ideas or experiences, like what does that look like, how might that be different—yeah, I'm super curious, would love to hear from Americans about that!

To learn more about the startup leading the transition to the future of the Sharing Economy, visit Peerby.com

 

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Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $1.75BN in funding, and building products people love across over 200 cities worldwide.

See the most recent news from our Grads at FI.co/news, or learn more about their stories at FI.co/graduates


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