Having worked in the Netherlands for four years, two young people have betted on an online business in Romania. Using the principles of a co-operative economy, Radu Vladislav and Alina Petcu have launched an online market that facilitates the rental of objects between people. Stuffz Platform offers the opportunity for tool owners (video cameras / games, games consoles, drones, bicycles and electric scooters etc) to rent while they are not using them. Radu explained about StartupCafe.com how the market works and what steps have been taken to launch the business.
"The platform offers value to tool owners, tenants, but also to the whole community." Value proposed to owners – they monetize objects that would otherwise be stored more. .
Value offered to tenants – they have access to a large area of appliances, they can only rent at reasonable prices. There is no need to buy gadgets that will probably be used low.
For the community – using tools together, consumerism is optimized. How? Demand for new appliances will decrease, with the amount of resources used to produce objects decreasing, "explains Stuffz, founder.
In the Netherlands, 31-year-old Alina worked in IT and tax automation, and Radu 33 was employed in a goods trading company.
StartupCafe: What were the steps to launch Stuffz?
Radu Vladislav: We built Stuffz to solve a problem we hit: at some point, as we traveled, we needed to rent a drone for a small project for a few days, but we did not find any rental service. The same happened when I needed DSLR.
We then surveyed the market and realized that many people had the same problem as us. These experiences and results have led us to create a Stuffz market. To date we have conducted market studies, discussed with potential users, analyzed and analyzed their feedback further, and created a Stuffz Beta platform – which can already be leased.
StartupCafe: What is the business model?
Radu Vladislav: We measure the platform using a percentage fee of each rent transaction. Currently the commission is 20% of the value of each rent transaction and we will adapt it in the future based on the costs we record.
We believe that this type of financial value benefits consumers, representing a variable cost to them. We use the commission to cover the operating costs of the platform as well as the promotional and guarantee costs of the products.
StartupCafe: Why did you choose to do business online?
Radu Vladislav: We believe that online potential is enormous and that what we have seen has been developed so far just the beginning. The technology creates new services, applications, products and even alert markets, which appeared to be a utopian long ago. We also believe that the online environment is very flexible, there is very little available, and there is creativity in this "home environment".
StartupCafe.ro: Have you received any investments / funding to date? Are you looking for investors?
Radu Vladislav: Our strategy is to focus our resources on developing and adapting the Stuffz service to the desired form of user use. At the same time, our goal is to regulate the functional parameters and performance of the platform, and then we will follow the model scale. For graduation, we will need money to accelerate the development of the Stuffz service. We are looking at partnerships with investors and de minimis funds.
StartupCafe: What was the initial investment? (own funds / bank loans / etc)
Radu Vladislav: In the development of Stuffz we've gone to the grip of the concept of "Start Start"and that's why we're managing to keep operating costs down. Therefore, the initial investment came under its own funds.
I can only tell you that we had no big start-up costs at all, compared with the amounts that we hear in the market as being necessary to launch a new business. This is certainly true for the Lean concept. We have concentrated resources on developing a Beta / MVP version which mainly provides functionality. We have not spent money on developing issues that were not absolutely necessary. There were then relatively low administrative costs.
- (nr) The prudent business start-up concept offers permanent adaptations instead of complex business plans, based on a number of assumptions – a process of “response loop”, which builds type – assess – learn.
StartupCafe: Which promotional channels are you using?
Radu Vladislav: The community we intend to serve is active presence and online, which we currently promote online using a mix of social media, content marketing, paid advertising and "hacking growth" concepts.
StartupCafe: What budget do you allocate each month / year to the marketing area?
Radu Vladislav: We are still in the MVP stage, and our aim is not to involve many consumers any more than installing our brand, which is why we are not allocating a large budget to the marketing area. The “Sure Start” concept includes budget grading, including marketing, only when unit level performance indicators allow this.
StartupCafe: How do Stuffz figures look at the moment?
Radu Vladislav: To date, we focused on introducing the Stuffz concept to the community we are going to address, on resolving user objections and on collecting and implementing the feedback we received.
We also saw a limited number of owners to list products on the Stuffz platform and we already have the 100 listed products worth more than 40,000 euros. In the coming years, we are concentrating our efforts on inviting a limited number of tenants from our community members to the stage.
StartupCafe: What are the short and long term plans for the online platform?
Radu Vladislav: In the short term, we plan to adjust the market-specific performance indicators, generate more lease transactions so that we can fully understand the needs of the users and provide them with a truly useful service.
Once we have succeeded, we plan to graduate across the country, then regional / international.
StartupCafe: What does the Stuffz team look like?
Radu Vladislav: Stuffz currently consists of two people, myself and Alina, with combined skills in project management, marketing, sales and customer service. Alina and I are also the co-founders of the beginning. We are facing the current challenges, but our goal is to increase our team with stage development.
StartupCafe: What happens if the product offered by a Stuffz user is damaged to his rent?
Radu Vladislav: In case of damage to the rental product, we encourage users to settle in friendly situations that have occurred. We are aware that there are situations where this will not happen, which is why we assume that the products are guaranteed during the rental period through the Stuffz platform. Therefore, if the situation is not resolved within a reasonable time, we will compensate the product owner, after which we will recover the legal damage from the tenant.
We can support this model right now, but in developing the platform, our goal is to outsource the risk to an insurer. We are already in discussions with insurers in the country, but also from abroad, about partnership in this regard.
StartupCafe: Are you thinking of launching an application or focusing on site development?
Radu Vladislav: We believe that the natural development of the Stuffz infrastructure will be an application, but at the moment we will focus on developing the site. We want to optimize the desktop version of the site and mobile phone, where we already receive significant traffic.
StartupCafe: Do you think platform could encourage other businesses to come to the spot? I refer to users who invest in gadgets and do business out of their rent.
Radu Vladislav: If we take the AirBnb platform, where most of the income is currently generated by businesses created by grouped housing management, we can say that there may be future rental agreements on a platform. Stuffz.