During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Ruckify Finds Success in Helping People Rent Items They Own to Others

Steve Cody, Co-Founder of Ruckify

Five years ago, a big storm knocked down a tree in Steve Cody’s neighborhood in Ottawa, Canada.

His neighbor, Bruce Linton cut up the tree with his chainsaw, but he needed a bigger chainsaw to complete the job.

That’s when Cody and Linton came up with the idea for Ruckify, which bills itself as the world’s largest peer to peer rental platform. They wanted to borrow or rent a bigger chainsaw from a neighbor nearby. Both worked at different companies at the time, but they kept thinking about the idea and put it on the back burner. In June of 2017, they decided to pursue it and they spent the next few years building the software and other tools for Ruckify.

Next, Ruckify did some market tests and identified 30 cities, including 24 cities in the U.S., to build supply and initially put half a million products on the platform. Today, Ruckify has more items than that on its platform, Cody said.

On this episode of the Ideas to Invoices podcast, Cody talks about how Ruckify launched into Austin in March right as the Covid-19 Pandemic hit and how the company has managed to expand despite troubling times.

Cody previously built and sold six rental companies and a software company. Ruckify Co-Founder Linton is also a serial entrepreneur who founded Canopy Growth, one of the world’s largest cannabis businesses.

Murillo Torres, Business Development
Nancy Cody, People Operations and Steve Cody, Co-Founder & CEO, photo courtesy of Ruckify

In March, Ruckify planned to move its headquarters to Austin and launch nationally on March 21st.

“A huge part of our mission is actually the environmental aspect,” Cody said. “So, if we can get the world sharing that means the world is not going to be making as many things, which is going to have a huge impact on the environment.”

One of the leading cities in North America committed to protecting the environment is Austin and that’s what led Ruckify to choose the city along with Austin’s tech base, younger demographics and adoption of the sharing economy, Cody said.

“A bunch of us had bought one-way tickets and we had started hiring people in Austin,” Cody said. Ruckify also rented a temporary office and it was looking for a permanent office to move into, he said. And then, on March 12th, everything started getting a little weird, and on March 13th some of the members of Ruckify went back to Canada to shelter in place, he said.

Ruckify Adapts and Changes as a Result of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Ruckify also had a $700,000 marketing budget set aside to spend over six months, the company has spent close to half of that, Cody said. Ruckify took out ads on Austin Metropolitan buses. But Ruckify decided not to spend the rest of the marketing dollars, because with the Pandemic, all of sudden people started coming to its platform looking for a way to make money and save money, Cody said. Ruckify’s business model shifted, he said.

The company was spending $200,000 a month on advertising before the Pandemic, and since March, it has spent about $10,000 and its business is better than ever, Cody said.

“It became a lot more organic in terms of building the business,” Cody said. “We found a different purpose, I think, a clearer purpose.”

Ruckify had 81 people at the start of the Pandemic on March 12th. Unfortunately, on March 16th, Ruckify had to let half its team go, Cody said. Since then, Ruckify has been able to hire back 12 of the people it let go and it’s continuing to hire back people, Cody said.

“Where we are today, we never modeled things going so well,” Cody said.

Today, Ruckify uses Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack and other online tools to work remotely as a team. It has gone so well, Cody said, Ruckify will continue to allow its employees to work remotely even after the Pandemic and threat of Covid-19 passes, he said.

“I don’t see us going back to an office,” Cody said. “Our company is run better now. We have to run more through process and culture is very much intact.”

Remote working allows for more flexibility and quality of life for employees, Cody said. Each employee is an owner of the company and that provides an incentive to do a good job, he said.

Ruckify Becomes a Side Hustle for People to Make Extra Money

People use Ruckify for three reasons: to foster community, to lessen their impact on the environment, and to make money or save money, Cody said. Ruckify makes money on each rental transaction, taking a 10 percent cut, and another 10 percent if you want insurance on the item, he said. But Ruckify has suspended collecting fees until the end of June to help support people through Covid-19, he said. People can post as many items for rent in their “stores” online and Ruckify doesn’t charge a fee for that, he said.

Ruckify allows its members to rent out anything they own to others in their area including lawnmowers, books, video games, musical instruments, even RVs, but during the pandemic some of the most popular items are weights, treadmills, exercise bikes, Cody said. The platform also does really well with renting out niche items like an egg incubator or a water bed pump, he said.

Ruckify also offers webinars to teach people how to operate a rental shop on the platform as a side hustle. Some people make between $700 and $1,000 a month renting out their stuff on Ruckify, Cody said.

To date, Ruckify has raised $17.5 million in angel investment from high net worth individuals and family offices. The company planned to do a listing on the Nasdaq stock market this year, and it may still go forward with those plans, Cody said.

“Tough times are good times for the rental industry,” Cody said. “The rental industry was literally created in the Great Depression and Airbnb was started by the last recession.”

For more, listen to the entire podcast, pasted below or wherever you get your podcasts – available on Google play store, Apple iTunes, Spotify, PlayerFM, Libsyn, and more.

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