Sharing Toys

Can the Airbnb model work for boats, RVs and jet skis?

There is a saying that the best day in a boat owner’s life is the day they buy it. The next best is the day they sell it.

Kyle Sales says he has a new “best day” for owners of boats, jet skis and recreational vehicles: The day they find Outdoor Toy Share.

Outdoor Toy Share is the Airbnb of RVs, boats, jet skis. Owners can rent out or “share” their toys on the website, and those looking for a boat for the weekend or an RV for a family road trip can rent it.

Up until now, there wasn’t an easy way for Kyle, or anybody, to do this. “[We were] just frustrated with the experience of trying to rent stuff. It was too expensive, it took too long, you had to book weeks ahead of time because inventory is so constrained,” Kyle explains.

“All of those things got us thinking, is there a better way to do this?”

Kyle tapped colleagues — developers, designers, copy writers, product owners —  from his seven-year stint working in finance at a digital agency in Seattle. Now living in recreation-friendly Boise, he knew it would be the perfect place to start a toy share business.

Outdoor Toy Share boat gauges

He launched Outdoor Toy Share in Idaho last summer, but purposely kept it quiet to iron out kinks in the website and fully test the sharing process.

Next came building the marketplace. Kyle wanted to focus on having enough supply for the demand, spending the rest of 2015 adding “toys” to the marketplace. He needed to give toy owners a reason to hop aboard.

“These boats and RVs are $20,000 or $30,000… one of the boats we have on the site is $107,000 … so they’re very expensive. And despite being really expensive, you look at the usage by percentage, and it’s surprisingly low,” Kyle says, “The average boat owner uses their boat between 7 and 11 times the entire year depending on the type of boat.”

And the other 345 days of the year?

“People say they’ll be out there all the time, using [their] boat, but then life happens — busy weekends, weddings, going out of town — [they] end up using it a lot less. You see people’s love affair start to dwindle and they consider selling.”

Outdoor Toy Share is the best of both worlds. Owners get to use their boat when they want it, but also make the math work.

“The average boat in Boise rents for over $300 a day,” Kyle says. “What we see for owners is that it only takes renting your asset out one or two times a month to pay your payment, and another day or so to pay your operating costs.”

And Kyle can prove it. His own boat is listed on Outdoor Toy Share and he has rented it out over 20 times in the past year.

“[I’ve] made over $6,000… In three years, I’m paying for a $30,000 boat,” Kyle smirks.

For 2016, Kyle and team have big plans for Outdoor Toy Share, including expanding the toy share service to new cities like Dallas and Phoenix.

“It’s ambitious, it sounds crazy, but our vision is to be the market leader in this space nationally.”

With the click of a button, Outdoor Toy Share could be nationwide, but Kyle is cognizant of having a credible presence in a city before launching there. “The focus is matching the supply and the demand.” Without enough toys, renters will go elsewhere. Without enough renters, owners may question the viability. Kyle admits this will be the biggest challenge for his startup going forward.

Companies like Uber and Airbnb are proving successful, and Kyle believes the “sharing” business model is in its infancy. He’s ready to ride that wave.

Beyond the sharing of toys, Kyle believes in sharing how he built Outdoor Toy Share, even in its early stages.

Outdoor Toy Share founder Kyle Sales driving boat

“There’s often a reluctance to talk about [what they’re working on]. People have this perception that, ‘Hey, this is a top-secret thing that I can’t tell anyone about.’ There are probably those instances, but it’s few and far between,” Kyle says.

“Start talking with people about that idea, get some feedback, incorporate that into the planning and the thinking.”

Discount for readers: Use the coupon code BiB to get $50 off of the first rental. Owners get an additional $100 on their first rental.

Photography by Chris Ennis.
Photos taken at Prestige Water Sports.