If you haven’t already heard, the ultimate purpose of the C21 movement is to inspire people to #GetOutside. So, naturally, we were pretty excited to encounter GearCommons who shares the same tagline — “Get Outside.”
Active since August 2013, GearCommons is an online platform designed for sharing and renting outdoor gear ( — think: a gear version of Air BnB). Their simple model applies the sharing economy to the outdoor industry and allows people who want to get outdoors the chance to do so even if they don’t personally own the right gear.
While the gear-sharing primarily took place in Boston for the first few months after its launch, GearCommons has now spread around the United States and beyond — to Canada, Denmark, and other international hotspots for outdoor activity. How has GearCommons been able to gain traction worldwide, even amongst several competitors based on the same business model?
Indeed there are a handful of startups following suit and offering gear rental through sites and apps, but we believe GearCommons has remained in the competitive forefront because of the powerful team driving the company. During a trip to Boston, where the company is based, we had the pleasure of meeting Mike Brown, one of the two founders. He immediately struck us as an extremely smart, talented, and hardworking entrepreneur who really exemplified the idea of hustle. Mike has spent the majority of his career working on startups and has worked a variety of jobs to pay off bills so he could get his dreams off the ground.
Now two years into working on GearCommons, Mike and his co-founder James have seen growth but also continue to grapple with one big issue: inconsistency of the marketplace. While the service definitely provides a fantastic solution to those looking for gear, the trouble is that users aren’t consistently engaged in the service since gear-renting needs are not constant. This lack of predictability in the marketplace is one that continues to challenge GearCommons and other similar services. But Mike has demonstrated his ability to be insightful and flexible. He has studied the data and traction of his business to really grasp where it works and where it doesn’t, and has recently developed a new business model with adjustments, to be announced in the near future. The team’s ability to identify problems and create new solutions to improve is why we are confident in the company’s sustainable success.
We applaud GearCommons because it is not only inspiring people, it’s directly giving them access to the equipment people need to really step out. So, the next time you’re planning an outdoor adventure, make sure to check out GearCommons and rent the gear you need to succeed!