The cameras, lenses, and lighting equipment to make even a relatively modest production can cost in the millions of dollars. Rentals are often the name of the game, but the roster of mom-and-pop equipment rentals can be difficult to navigate. BoxedUp takes a fresh look at the space and creates a rental marketplace — a Turo or Airbnb for video equipment, if you will — where equipment owners can list their gear for rent.
The company’s model works by merging lists of individual owners, local rental stores and manufacturers, giving content creators access to equipment, and giving owners a national platform to monetize equipment. For now, the company is focused only on the US, but the investment will enable an upgrade in fulfillment capabilities, enabling BoxedUp to offer same-day delivery in key markets.
“This funding will allow BoxedUp to focus on expanding the capabilities of our platform, enabling us to better serve our customers, brands, and local rental stores across the United States,” said Donald Boone, CEO and founder of BoxedUp, of the funding round. † The company recently closed for $2.3 million, with funding from Slauson & Co, Collab Capital, Black Capital and Outlander VC. † “We plan to build on this opportunity and grow our team by attracting additional technical talent and operational expertise.”
“The BoxedUp team is perfectly positioned to meet content creators where they don’t suffer from equipment ownership and logistics, while providing equipment owners with a way to easily monetize their underutilized inventory,” explains Ajay Relan, Managing Director Partner at Slauson & Co, the thinking behind the investment. “We are excited about this intersection of creator and shared economies and look forward to supporting the platform’s vision and expansion.”
The company originally started out as a rental company focusing on camera kits for video conferencing, virtual events and similar use cases.
“We responded quickly to many customer issues. The pandemic was on Full Tilt and the mainstream media really struggled with the idea that all our talent is now absolutely scattered all over the world. And oh, by the way, they have really crappy cameras,” Boone explains. “I tried out a few camera kits and they looked great. A friend advised me to pitch these kits to the mainstream media. The first company we sold to was Blavity. And then we picked up NPR and Amazon and Google and the ball started rolling very quickly.”
BoxedUp had encountered a market where the traditional players were not responding to customer needs; high-end Hollywood productions have their own equipment rental systems, but for the huge long tail of small and medium makers, there was nothing like the ease of use that the rest of the internet has become accustomed to. Once the company had some traction, it started snowing.
“Do you do documentary work? Do you have anything to make renting equipment for documentaries easier,” Boone recalls as the questions came in. only to find out it’s actually pretty miserable. At this point, it’s all email transactions. A cameraman or videographer writes something in their iPhone’s notes app and sends it to a rental store. Sometimes they DM people.
Building a marketplace to make this kind of rental easier was the obvious next step.
“We found a A $10 billion opportunity where owner-operators are renting things through Instagram and rental stores are still using really old websites,” Boone said. “We think there was an opportunity for us to be the technology platform, the marketplace. The owners of the equipment don’t want to deal with the technology, they are artists after all.”
In the beginning, the company stocked its own equipment and partnered with manufacturers, who would send them their open box or cosmetically damaged items. The company would rent on their behalf. High-end equipment is expensive, of course, and the company decided it would make more sense to take the equipment that goes unused most of the time, and connect it with creators who need access to high-quality video equipment.
“Instead of spending $30,000 to buy a camera to rent out one by one, we could instead create the platform to connect people have that $30,000 camera. So we kind of shifted real-time and during COVID we had it all, but right now our whole go-to-market is 100% empowering the local mom-and-pop rental stores and the individual owner-operators,” Boone says.