Interview with RNTERS - MAZE - Decoding Impact

Interview with RNTERS

Meet Guilherme, Carlota and Francisco from RNTERS, the rental marketplace for everyday items.

Can you tell us who you are and a little bit about your background?

Francisco [F]: I’m the co-founder of RNTERS. Currently, I’m the Head of Product. My background is in Information Management at Nova. I did my degree and masters there. I used to work at Accenture before coming to RNTERS and co-founding it. I accepted Guilherme’s challenge while I was still working at Accenture. I recently quit my job and jumped on this big adventure that is RNTERS and all the other projects that we are currently working on.

Carlota [C]: I’m the marketing manager at RNTERS. My background is in business. I have a bachelor’s degree in business at Nova School of Business and Economics. I took my master’s degree in cultural management, in Bocconi, Milan. I have worked for Fnac for one year, quitted my job because I was too tired of it and decided to join RNTERS.

Guilherme [G]: I’m the CEO and co-founder of RNTERS. I graduated as a medical doctor. I decided to start RNTERS when I was in Bali because I needed a bodyboard, and I couldn’t tap on the nearby community to rent or borrow one. So, I decided to challenge Francisco and João to join me as the founding team of RNTERS and started building what today is the biggest Portuguese renting community.

What is RNTERS?

[F]: RNTERS is the rental marketplace for everyday items. Our users can rent everything from GoPros, bikes, videogames, books, whatever they might need. They can also profit from the things they own and don’t use that much. RNTERS, nowadays, is much more than that, it is also a collection of projects, like lazy campers, where we allow people who go to music festivals to rent camping gear. Another project is Pinheiro Bombeiro, our initiative that allows people to rent real pine trees for Christmas and donate half of the profits to Portuguese firefighters.

You have recently launched lazy campers. What has surprised you the most?

[C]: Lazy campers was very successful this year and I think it has a lot of potential. I believe it’s going to transform the experience of everyone that camps at festivals.

Why does RNTERS matter?

[G]: It matters because it has an impact on people’s lives. It allows people to have access to any item they need. For example, we had a case where a child needed a computer for school, and his parents couldn’t afford it. They used RNTERS as a way to allow their kid to use a proper computer to do these tasks at school, which made a big difference in their lives. So, RNTERS is giving people access to a huge variety of items people may need occasionally, but they might not afford or benefit from buying. And, also, to avoid waste and to allow people to profit from things they own but they are not using every day. It matters both socially and environmentally because it has an impact on both sides.

What is the size of the problem that you’re solving in terms of impact?

[G]: According to eBay, there are 50 unused items on every people’s household, which compounds to 3000€ per household, invested on unused items. In the US alone, this sums up to 300 billion euros on items that are not used at all. That’s a pretty big figure. Some other interesting fact that we read a couple of days ago is that there are more mobile subscriptions than people on earth. So, there are 7.8 billion mobile subscriptions on mobile phones in the last 1.5 years. It’s a huge electronic waste. Electronic waste has now surpassed the amount of plastic waste.

Why did you apply to Maze X?

[F]: We’ve always felt that RNTERS has the potential to have a huge impact, as Guilherme said, both socially and environmentally. MAZE has a very strong team and a very strong message related to impact. I think those were the most significant factors.

Is Maze X the first acceleration program you participate on?

[F]: No, we’ve been at Beta-i with Lisbon challenge. It was a very good program. And it was very useful because we were just starting, and it felt like a degree in startups, a really quick and strong course we have on “startup’s life”. And it was beneficial, at that time, as Maze X is right now, at the stage we are.

What were the three challenges you want to tackle throughout acceleration?

[G]: I think we had two main challenges. One challenge was to redefine our strategy. We have a lot of different experiences around RNTERS and different ways we can go to scale RNTERS. We needed to wrap things up, choose a path and have a direction towards what we believe RNTERS will become in the future. It was great because we really worked on that and we are proud of where we are right now. The other challenge was impact measurement, which we weren’t doing at all. We needed to find a way where we could tell our users and tell our community the impact we are having, on every rental. So, basically, we worked these two challenges a lot during the program, and we are very happy with the way things are right now.

[F]: I will also add that since we are bootstrapped from the beginning, one of our biggest challenges was to find a strong team to back us with insightful leaders on this initial path towards raising investment. And we found this in MAZE. So very glad to be with where we are.

[C]: Maze X gave us the opportunity to sit down and really go through everything. Before, we were always working on everything, and everything was crazy, we didn’t have the opportunity to sit down and redefine the strategy, the objectives, the future. I think that was very important as well.

Which startup surprised you the most in the last year?

[F]: It’s not a startup anymore, but I was really surprised by how much and how fast Revolut grew, especially in the last year, since they are now regulated. I was very impressed by that. And on a smaller scale, we’ve watched a pitch from Circuit at TechStars Lisbon Bootcamp, and they were really good. I like their product, their strategy, the way they’re spreading their product with some viral mechanisms. Those are the two cases that I find the most impressive.

[G]: In the Portuguese ecosystem, I like to follow a friend who works with us at Lisbon Challenge, Felipe, from Infraspeak. I guess they have a really good way to showcase their growth. Felipe is an avid communicator, and he really likes to tell his closest inner circle where he’s at and how his team is growing. I love that style of leadership, I’m happy that he’s scaling fast enough Infraspeak, so, I guess it’s a good example.

[F]: I have another example, and I’m biased here since they are friends of mine… They are not as connected in the startup world, but they’re having huge revenues for their first year. They are called Trickett, and they are creating cool solutions for events. It’s one to keep an eye on.

Where do you find wisdom?

[C]: I find wisdom in going through stuff and just life itself. I’m being super cheesy but more than books and classes, actually going through challenges every day, solving problems, that’s where I find wisdom.

[G]: I find wisdom in my life examples, people that I care a lot. For example, my grandfather and other people that I relate to. I set them as an example and use it as a way to understand how I should act on different occasions, and how I can be a better person. I find my source of inspiration for wisdom in people. In people that I really admire.

[F]: I think of someone really smart, and I try to put myself in their shoes and to think about how he or she would decide. It doesn’t need to be someone I like or care, just someone that I really think would fit that problem-solving question. That’s where I try to find my wisdom. All those examples Carlota and Guilherme gave, I think, they fit perfectly as well.

Maze X was conceived and initiated by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and MAZE, with the law firm PLMJ joining as a founding corporate member and BNP Paribas, Hospital da Luz Learning Health, Casa do Impacto as partners.

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