In the construction business, heavy machinery such as excavators and bulldozers can often sit idle between projects. Contractor McGuire & Hester, based in Oakland, California, got tired of staring at unused gear and decided to lend its equipment and raked in $100,000 in rentals in a little more than a year.
The online rental platform it used was Yard Club. Founded in 2013, the San Francisco start-up allows contractors to easily rent machinery to one another for weeks at a time. The rentals in turn allow businesses to boost revenue in between jobs.
Construction equipment rental already is a nearly $40 billion industry annually. But start-up Yard Club is trying to one up more established networks by showcasing its easy-to-use, online community. Members are prescreened and construction fleet inventory is detailed virtually so posting equipment to rent and accessing specific gear are easy tasks.
The rental process was "seamless," said Mike Haley, equipment manager at McGuire & Hester.
The platform is catching on. Yard Club—which raised $1.6 million from firms including Andreessen Horowitz in 2013—got more validation this month when construction giant Caterpillar contributed an undisclosed amount to a new round of funding as part of a partnership.
"This is about making the process easier and expanding the contractors renters can connect with," said Yard Club's founder and CEO, Colin Evran.
He declined to disclose revenue or membership numbers. But Evran did say Yard Club deals with about 700 pieces of equipment in the San Francisco area, with plans for growth. The start-up intends to expand further into California and nearby states with the Caterpillar partnership.