We’ve all been there. You want to do something cool, but you don’t have the gear to get it done. Many folks would either let that stop them, or you’re dishing out a bunch of money to buy a new bike, camping equipment, kayak, or whatever.
What if the stuff to make your life a little better was available a few clicks away, and at a more reasonable cost than always buying new stuff that you use a few times and then it never sees the light of day?
Meet JONEZIE, a new service created by some Michigan entrepreneurs that lets you rent anything, or list anything you have for rent.
This isn’t just an idea, JONEZIE is up and running. The service already has 1,000 people signed up who are listing more than 550 items.
The service came from a simple wish.
“It was the first warm day this spring and I really wanted to go for a bike ride. Me and my wife went to the bike store to look for a decent bike and everything seemed so expensive. On our way back home we saw our neighbors pulling up to their house on bikes, so I decided to ask them if I could rent their bikes from them for a few hours. And that’s where it all started.” said Zack Leonard, co-founder of JONEZIE.
And with that successful transaction, it was off to the races.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could go online, request to rent a bike from a neighbor, and bring it back without the worry of storing it or the guilt of spending $600 on a new bike? I thought this type of platform could be so useful for just about anything.'”
Leonard teamed up with Matthew Clough, an entrepreneur who had decided to come home to Michigan after founding the Los Angeles-based Stone & Cloth, a company that sells totes and backpacks that also gives back to education. He also has worked with TOMS Shoes, the iconic shoe company known for their “buy one, give one” approach.
How To JONEZIE
So let’s talk about the service and the site. The items for rent are divided up into various categories. Wheels, tools, parties, electronics, home, academics, camping, fashion, and sports. There is everything from trailers and generators to camera gear to ice cream makers — and a lot of things you could dream up in between.
Of course, even with the best of intentions, stuff can go wrong. The rentals are backed in a similar way as some of the other popular sharing sites do such as AIRBNB — with a guarantee. JONEZIE calls it the “Happiness Guarantee.”
“We created the JONEZIE Happiness Guarantee to protect the lister. If you’re listing your belongings to make some extra money, we want to make sure you feel protected. If anything happened to the item, we will either a.) replace it or b.) give you the entire dollar value of the product so you’re taken care of,” said Clough. “We also know exactly who rented it so we’re going to call them and say, ‘Hey man, that’s not cool. You should be paying for this not us.’”
There’s also a rating system, a messaging system, and since JONEZIE does the financial part of the transaction, not only is that safer than carrying cash but it makes the deal less awkward when it happens.
Why the name “JONEZIE?”
Jonezie is one of those names that sounds like a person, like your buddy. But where did their “Jonezie” come from?
“One time on the way to Ann Arbor we were just sort of rapping about different ideas and knew the name needed to be playful and fun because we want JONEZIE to become a brand that’s playful and fun.” said Clough. “We started thinking about different fun and playful names and JONEZIE popped into our heads when we were talking about the phrase ‘Keeping up with the Joneses.” Since JONEZIE makes it easy to do just that — Keep up with the Joneses.”
“Or you’re just jonesing to go on a bike ride like I was. It has a double meaning,” said Leonard.
Detroit called this entrepreneur back home
Matthew Clough’s Stone and Cloth has found a measure of success out west, but for his next project, Clough wanted to do it in metro Detroit.
“I grew up in the Michigan,” said Clough. “I was born in Canada but when people ask me where home is, I always say Michigan or Detroit. I moved here in sixth grade and was here until my early twenties. I moved back from LA just about a year ago.”
One of Clough’s primary objectives when he moved back to Michigan was to build something that’s truly valuable to the city here. Something that’s accessible and can help people out in various ways. They also are being strategic about the Detroit area being their first market.
“We want to make this a huge success in Detroit. And we know if we can make it a success here, we can take the platform and launch it in other cities as well.
Detroit isn’t a very densely populated city compared to, say, Los Angeles or San Francisco, and we consider it a competitive advantage. We know if we can make this a success in Detroit, then we can make this a success in any other city across the US.
Right now we’re looking for the city to rally behind us by signing up and providing any feedback or ideas they have so we can turn this into a valuable platform. We’d love to see JONEZIE become a big part of the success story of Detroit bouncing back,” said Clough.
JONEZIE opened to the public on January 1. Here’s the website.