September 16, 2021

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Monday Close-Up: Provo startup expanding, raising funds after successful pilot in Utah County | Provo News

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A Provo-based startup that helps residents rent their stuff out to other people in the community is expanding up the Wasatch Front after a successful year-and-a-half pilot run in Utah County.

In November 2019, Yoodlize launched a rental platform allowing Utah County residents to use an app to find people to rent everything from paddleboards to video game consoles to camping equipment.

The Utah County company, which compares itself to other online marketplaces like Airbnb and Uber, saw a surge in users throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as residents looked to pick up new hobbies or engage in socially distanced outdoor recreation.

According to CEO and co-founder Jason Fairbourne, the company processed more than 800 transactions during the Utah County pilot, about 90% of which occurred in the Provo and Orem areas.

“We saw some good success with this peer-to-peer rental platform, people renting items that they already currently own,” Fairbourne said in an interview with the Daily Herald on Wednesday, noting that one user was able to make $2,000 one month by renting out their belongings.

Fairbourne is not only a strong believer in the peer-to-peer rental platform, he is also a frequent user of it. He said his wife, Natalie Fairbourne, who is co-founder and chief procurement officer of the company, has rented out charger plates for weddings and dinner parties, while his son has rented out his Nintendo Switch.

“It’s probably been rented 15-20 times,” he said. “It’s basically paid itself off now.”

Some of the most common items that get rented include tents, electric bicycles, mountain bikes, outdoor tables and chairs, specialty tools, trailers, ladders, VR goggles and cameras, according to Fairbourne.

“It’s been kind of fun to see the wide variety of items that come through,” he said.

After the successful pilot, Yoodlize is now raising money to put out an updated version of the app and “expand up the Wasatch Front” to serve residents beyond Utah County.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Provo company had raised over $142,000 from investors, nearly a third of its $500,000 goal, using the crowdfunding platform Wefunder.

Provo-based investor John Dewey MacKay, who invested $25,000 in Yoodlize on its latest round of crowdfunding, wrote on the crowdfunding website that he “absolutely love(s) the business model of Yoodlize.”

“Today I focus my investments on companies that are going to have both a social and economic benefit on society. Yoodlize accomplishes both requirements,” wrote MacKay. “Socially it allows transference of items within communities and economically it provides people a way to earn money from those items.”

Other Utah County residents have invested smaller amounts, according to Fairbourne, who noted that some investments have been as little as $100.

“But it’s been really interesting to see users in the local community and people investing … (and) to see money coming in and getting support from people who use the product,” the CEO said.

If the company’s expansion along the Wasatch Front proves successful, Fairbourne said they plan on opening a second market in Austin, Texas.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at [email protected] and 801-344-2599.

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