Say you found your dream couch in a nearby suburb, but you don’t own a truck. You have the seller on the line, but you just don’t have the necessary transportation to grab that perfect piece of furniture.
Chris Glace, a weekend home improvement enthusiast, felt the same frustration. Moving materials and trying to rent trucks became exhausting and expensive weekend after weekend. That’s how his on-demand truck rental startup Fetch came about.
“My co-founder Chris would rent from all the typical places and always come in Monday as we were working together and say that he had a terrible experience renting trucks because of the long lines and hidden fees,” says Fetch’s CEO Adam Steinberg.
“We finally said, isn’t it crazy that in today’s world with everyone having a smartphone in their pocket, that you still have to go to a counter, get the keys from someone, and fill out a contract just to rent a truck for an hour or two.”
Since 2016, the team has helped customers avoid hidden fees by providing a convenient one-time hourly fee while covering the gas fill-up and skipping all the lines. All you need to rent a truck is to jump on the app, find one that’s available, unlock it with your phone, and off you go.
Most recently, Fetch piloted a partnership with on-demand delivery startup Roadie to provide their drivers with trucks at a discounted rate, offering an opportunity to make bigger deliveries and take multiple gigs at once.
Here, co-founder and CEO Steinberg shares more about their new marketplace initiative, launching this month, to help them expand to other cities and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
What’s your pitch?
It was just pain, and having gone through it ourselves. What we’ve built with Fetch is we have a completely self-service rental platform — both software to manage the rental experience for the customer as well as to manage the backend, manage your fleet, manage all of your billing. Then, hardware that plugs into the vehicle that we’ve custom built that remotely locks and unlocks the vehicle, connects to our app, tracks all the mileage, secures the vehicle when needed.
We started by actually building on my technology to rent our own fleet. We have a fleet of 18 vehicles here in Atlanta and that’s been going for about a year and a half. Along that time period, we also had a lot of people reach out to franchise Fetch, open in new cities where they could run a location. What we’re doing is not franchising, but we’re about to launch a marketplace where anyone can create their own rental fleets or if they have their own fleet already, use Fetch to power their rental experience.
Tell us more about the marketplace — will it just be for trucks?
We started with trucks, but we’re growing beyond trucks to rental cars and vans or any type of rental automobile. If you think about that market, you have the traditional players like Hertz and Enterprise. Probably the biggest player is a company called Turo. We’re more focused on entrepreneurs that want to create a side hustle or existing businesses that want to add a revenue channel.
The marketplace is happening this month. This lets us grow and partner with lots of people that have to run a rental fleet and leverage our technology and the automation. We would provide an all-in-one platform for those fleet operators. We are no longer going to be focused on buying vehicles. It’s more about partnering with other people that are about to put out their own rental fleets.
Where are the trucks based around the city?
We’ve partnered with locations where people need trucks, primarily self-storage locations. In exchange, we provide their customers some incentives when they move in. The storage customers use the truck to get their stuff into the unit, but anyone off the street can come and rent the Fetch truck, not just their customers.
If you think about other places where people would need rental cars — places like auto-body shops, repair centers, service shops — we’re starting to partner with those types of businesses on the rental car side because people drop off their car for service and they need a car. You’ll provide your own insurance; we don’t have any upsell for insurance. You just use your own policy and name it on your rental agreement.
How did your partnership with Roadie come about?
Fetch fits perfectly within their motto of having to move something — I can getting it done quickly and do it on demand. We partnered with them to basically equip all their drivers with access to trucks. It also promoted Roadie to our drivers. We have a lot of small businesses as our customers that are interested in other ways to make additional revenue and income.
It just seems like a really natural partnership. It’s something we’ve been really excited about.
What’s your current funding situation?
We have both angel investors as well as seed funds from Y Combinator and others on the West Coast that have invested. We have a really great platform we’ve built from that. Most likely, we’ll be going back out this year to do more fundraising.
What leadership lessons stand out to you since you started Fetch?
Solve a problem that you have. If you’re solving a problem you have, then it gives you a lot of built-in insights. It lets you create a really compelling experience immediately because you know how you want the experience to feel, you know what was broken about it and you’re building it, really, for yourself. That just gives you a lot of inherent advantage as far as creating something unique that people will respond to.
And then two is we didn’t have the experience fully figured out. I don’t love the advice to launch early, but we did get some advice which has kind of stuck with me, which is “Don’t be afraid to break some eggs.” I think that’s more applicable. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. Doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be better.