After high school, Daniel Dubois went to Australia looking for big adventure with small funds. His limited means didn’t hamper his trip—he traversed the Down Under using loaned outdoor equipment.
Inspired by Australia’s sharing economy, Dubois came home to Vancouver and started ShareShed.ca, an e-commerce website that stimulates the sharing community in British Columbia.
“My passion is outdoors. I love getting outside. We live in the perfect area for it, surrounded by oceans and mountains,” says Dubois.
His startup makes it easy to rent outdoor activity equipment. By eliminating the need for unnecessary purchases, Dubois is generating a market for renting directly from owners and creating a sense of community.
TED Talk helped Dubois translate his passion for the outdoors into a business plan
After returning home, Dubois fell upon Rachel Botsman’s TED Talk on collaborative consumption. In her talk, Botsman mentions 50 per cent of American households own a drill, but they are only used for on average 15 minutes over their lifetime.
This pattern didn’t make sense to Dubois, so he set to work on building ShareShed. To differentiate themselves from other sites, the ShareShed team leveraged the “power of technology to connect people in real life.” They engaged the local community through group sporting events, creating supply and demand for the new business.
By making previously out-of-reach activities available to the masses, ShareShed.ca has become the “Airbnb of outdoor adventures.”
According to Dubois, there are three barriers to outdoor adventure.
“One of them is lack of gear, so we are essentially the Airbnb of outdoor adventure equipment. The next one is lack of network. We have a meetup group that usually has a pretty strong turnout. Just last Sunday, they went snowshoeing and we had to close ticket sales because they were over subscribed.”
The third biggest barrier for outdoor adventure is lack of skill. According to Dubois, “a lot of people feel like they don’t have the right skillset to get outside and try new things.” ShareShed.ca fills these voids by creating events that help people to try new activities.
“We have guides that are leading different adventures to teach people how to use things,” says Dubois. “We have partnered with different companies like Red Paddle Co, which gives ShareShed.ca access to free SUP’s (stand-up paddling) to encourage outdoor activities and allow people to demo new items.”
In the three years since ShareShed’s launch, Dubois has cultivated plenty of partnerships. The team uses Hootsuite’s coworking space, and ShareShed has become the official platform for Mountain Equipment Co-op rental equiptment. Dubois has also developed an impressive advisory board including an Airbnb executive and an Uber seed investor.
The greatest challenge ShareShed faces is expanding to new cities. ShareShed is looking to develop sharing communities outside of Vancouver when the time is right.
According to Dubois, ShareShed’s best route for expansion is “balancing supply and demand and growing them together before scaling.” His long term vision also includes integrating delivery services through Uber.
For now, he attributes his success to running a lean startup. He also credits a generous entrepreneurship ecosystem in Vancouver for helping him grow, along with e-commerce king Roger Hardy (founder of Clearly Contacts and Shoes.com) for helping seed the ecosystem with his revolutionary startups.
On choosing .CA
Due to ShareShed’s Canadian focus, Dubois said picking a domain was an easy choice.
“Choosing a .CA domain was a no-brainer,” says Dubois, further stressing that having an “online presence helps to engage people on a local level.”
When asked which online platforms he is using most, he mentioned Meetup, Hootsuite, along with popular social media platforms Instagram and Facebook. He particularly likes the Hootsuite platform, stressing just how important it has become to his business. “Hootsuite is so powerful for creating a stream of users, allowing you to engage with them as friends.”
Dubois says a simple philosophy is what helps him and his company grow: “Wealth is not about what you own. It is about what you have access to.”
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