SnapGoods Targets Consumers Who Want to Rent Instead of Buy

Brooklyn-based SnapGoods is looking to create a consumer space that does not involve buying or selling goods, but targets a third, often-neglected consumer: the one who simply wants to borrow stuff. “You use it, and then you give it back,” said Ron Williams, 34-year-old CEO and co-founder of the Brooklyn-based startup, a company whose tagline reads: “Own less. Do more.”

SnapGoods lets users connect with one another to borrow items for a price and length of time that the two parties negotiate. It launched as a beta in August of 2010, and went live into eight cities in March of 2011.

The seed for the idea came when Williams was trying to rent a motorcycle to impress his girlfriend. He used Craigslist to find someone willing to lend him a motorcycle, and even drew up a rental agreement. But he “wished someone had my back” for the transaction. A light bulb went off when he realized that people could benefit from a website that promoted safe borrowing. “Craigslist is wonderful,” Williams said, “but it has its limitations.” Those limitations include a lack of recourse in the case of transactions-gone-bad, which is where SnapGoods hopes to find its niche.

SnapGoods hinges on two key ideas: reputation and communication, Williams explains. “We wanted to make sure we took care of safety first, and then made the negotiation process clean enough,” he says. Williams designed the site so that it can verify that lenders and borrowers are who they say they are, by checking the credit card information, phone numbers, and other information they provide when they register for the site.

Once you’ve signed up for SnapGoods, you either post a want ad or post an item you want to lend out. The items that have been borrowed through the site so far run the gamut from cars to crystal balls, … Next Page »

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C.W. Thompson is a freelance writer covering technology, personal finance, small business, and the arts. Follow @

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