When investing, your capital is at risk.
What if, instead of buying things at marked up prices just to use them once a year, we could rent them for a fraction of the cost and live out all the experiences we want?
That’s the idea that WhyBuy had when they built a platform allowing users to rent absolutely anything they wanted, have it brought to their doorstep via 100% electric fleet and return it, to avoid cluttering their lives with things they don’t need.
Founder Jamie Conway walked us through how creating a sustainable future isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be.
What is WhyBuy’s vision?
People can lead rewarding lives without having to own stuff. We want them to be able to access anything they want any time they want so they can focus on experiences themselves, not the hassle of getting the stuff to make them happen. WhyBuy is making the same monumental change for all experiences that Spotify made for music – from having an outdoor-heated party with a chocolate fountain to getting the power tools to do your own home renovations.
We also want to save the planet! The amount of resources that go into producing and shipping items that get used once or twice a year is unsustainable and morally wrong. We need to access stuff when we need it, for however long we need it for. Not have it clutter up our lives.
What are the qualifications of your core team, and how has your collective past experience prepared you for this venture?
Having founded and run the largest City TV network in the UK, I have experience pitching a B2C product but selling on a B2B basis. At WhyBuy, this has helped me navigate working with corporate partners and assess consumer demands.
Building amazing teams that can deliver and adapt is the thing I’m proudest of in my career. WhyBuy is blessed to have a director of operations in Denis Oyibo who’s attention to detail is forensic. Not only does he have a degree in physics and a knack for precision, he has 16 years of experience in companies such as DHL and Hermes where he spearheaded the move to employing drivers directly.
We also just appointed James Welch to lead the commercialisation of WhyBuy. He has rich experience in marketing and driving B2C businesses, and was regional director for WPP’s innovation group in Singapore as well as Marketing Director for Vizeum, part of Dentsu Aegis. I’m confident that our team has the skills, drive and experience to bring the brand incredible places.
What gap in the market is WhyBuy solving?
There is literally no company providing household items on an ad-hoc basis in the way WhyBuy does. There are peer-to-peer models working at it from a different angle, and while they’re great, consumers want to know that their provider is ensuring the quality of the products they’re renting.
We allow customers to access high quality items that have been properly maintained and arrive at your doorstep, conveniently and at a time of their choosing. By acting as the curator of all items, we can ensure the batteries are charged, the fluids are included, the filters are clean and the customer is delighted. On top of that, our model allows us to remain fully insured in a way that peer-to-peer providers aren’t able to be.
Our customers can expect the same experience from every one of our offerings as a top quality hotel room – leaving them feeling like they’re the only person who’s ever used it.
What was the first thing you built in order to get the company up and running?
A mock advertising campaign. I had a contact at Google who helped me set up a conceptual website asking people if they wanted to be able to access items on a short term basis. From there, we invested money in a Google ad campaign to gauge consumer demand. The demand was so high, we had to turn off the campaign!
I then built the first wireframe for our app and started building a database of items I thought customers would need and it flowed from there. In a nutshell it was pretty textbook – I started by proving there was a market for what I wanted to do, and then designed exactly how we were going to capitalise on it.
What investment have you secured so far and from whom?
We’ve had £200,000 invested so far with our partners in Station 12. They were quick to see the evidence of demand for this product, and we had our first drawdown completed within a few months.
What has growth looked like to date?
Originally we had hoped to get to 2,000 downloads a month after 6 months. Within a month of launching we were getting 1,500 downloads a week and were blown away by the interest. However, we still treated it as a test phase and had to accelerate our commercialisation which was difficult in the midst of Covid. Thankfully, James is now joining us in November and we’ll be able to hone and focus on our commercialisation proposition about 6 months ahead of our original plan.
Honestly, I thought it would take longer to convince consumers that what we’re doing really is revolutionary. Instead, we’ve found ourselves tackling a huge and receptive market, recognising that we need to be the best-in-class in executing on product development and growth.
What are the primary revenue streams for the business?
B2C is our core revenue. There are secondary revenues from certain business partners and we are already in talks with major national (and international) retailers but I’m determined to have a deep understanding of our customers so direct to consumers is essential so we can become to everything you need at home, what the food delivery apps did for take aways.
Who are the main competitors in this space and how does WhyBuy stand out?
We’re really the only B2C company operating in this space that can curate our own inventory of items. Peer-to-peer counterparts like Fat Llama are great for the purpose they serve, but in my opinion, if someone needs to hire a lawn mower, a patio heater or a Le Creuset Fondue set just for a day, they want to just open the box without any concerns as to who owned it, whether it works properly, and how well it was sanitised before they got it.
We also run our own delivery operations which means we are responsible for customers’ experiences directly and own the relationship. Nobody else in the space does it to this extent.
What’s next for WhyBuy in terms of international expansion, product development and more?
We’re already in talks with national retailers and are confident that all major cities will be covered by WhyBuy by the end of 2021. While I’m cautious about overreaching too early, we have identified 8 European cities which are logical expansion targets and have a pre-existing hire culture ensuring the concept will be embraced early on.
What’s one thing you don’t have, that you would borrow for a day?
A short throw projector for movie nights with friends, either indoors or outdoors! It sits right against the wall so you don’t need to worry about stands and distances and the picture quality is superb.
Either that or a poker table. Playing with friends is always a fantastic evening and for just a few quid chipped in around the table, you end up with the full Vegas experience.
If you had one piece of advice for the future generation, what would it be?
You can have the lifestyle you want while being socially and environmentally responsible. Once you get over the obsession of needing to own everything, you can do pretty much anything you want.
To find out more about WhyBuy, check out the pitch now.