Past Becomes Present
Today my wife is being induced and, in what we hope will be a short amount of time, our baby will breathe their first breath. I’ll get to hold my kid, a moment I’ve waited years for.
I am both excited and terrified about that and at the same time excited and terrified to go on paternity leave from a company I have spent the past five years building. I’m sitting here replaying those five years and dreaming about the world my child will come into.
Omni launched in 2015 as a storage service with a big vision. I pitched investors the dream of Dropbox meets Airbnb for things. We threaded that needle. In the first two years, we amassed an inventory of awesome stuff — from paddle boards to Picassos to obscure records you can’t stream on the internet. Every item was carefully photographed, inventoried, and categorized to make sure they felt visually available to their owners at all times and the promised goal — a rental marketplace — could be realized.
We learned so much about what people accessed frequently, what they kept, and what they forgot about entirely. The majority of our users have camping gear they want access to roughly twice a year. Couples low on space, have given us well over a hundred pairs of dining chairs that originally belonged in sets of four. Bike deliveries peak on Fridays and Saturdays. Our average user accesses 2–3 of their items on a monthly basis, but most of their items only a few times a year. Learnings like these became the foundation that informed the success of our rentals launch.
When we launched rentals in October 2017, it was the culmination of years of imagination, unwavering effort, and raw physical labor (our amazing Operations team had processed 100 thousand+ items). The thrill of finally launching this and enabling more for our users was unreal. People flipped out. Fridays with friends went from a keg and a boom box to include corn hole, chocolate fountains, projectors, those weird inflatable couch things, drones, pool floats, margarita makers and laser tag. Date night went from dinner and a movie to kayaking at sunset in The Bay documented by a drone. Parents who previously bought countless toys, strollers, and carriers to find the right combo for their kid (my future flashes in front of me) now could test all the latest baby gadgets, puzzles, swaddles, etc. for a few bucks.
Most importantly, people were buying less and doing more. The Omni community isn’t in the millions yet, but it will be. And in the meantime, there are thousands of people out there that share ownership of their favorite stuff. That’s pretty cool.
With rentals, the dormant value of everyone’s excess becomes accessible to communities wherever we launch. Rentals level the access playing field across socio-economic strata. They provide a smarter solution to ownership for countless different unique items that only have value in the moments we’re experiencing them.
People have built entire side businesses — and in some cases — accelerated their existing business utilizing Omni to run their rentals.
For me, the best part of running a startup has been and will always be the people. I love pitching investors, firing up potential new candidates, and I love the relationships I’ve developed since the beginning of Omni. I am energized by both building and selling this dream I have with our amazing team and incredible investors from our last round, including Highland, Founders Fund, 8VC, Stefan Thomas, Flybridge, Allen & Co, Wes Edens, J. Balvin, Fabio Acosta, Vivi Nevo, Karlie Kloss, Penni Thow, DJ Skee, Shrug.vc, and Dream Machine.
This support has enabled us to expand on our vision and focus beyond just unlocking the value of your closet to unlocking the value of unused items everywhere for everyone. In the coming months, Omni will announce new additions to our rentals platform that will enable this further.
Omni is all about sharing ownership to increase access. We all grow up dreaming of owning certain things; we all have items that we frequently use that bring us joy and deserve a consistent place in our lives. What we forget is that we also grew up sharing, from toys to songs, to the spaces we occupy. Everyone lives in some type of community and shares something with someone.
The future I want for my child is one where everyone can reach out and get the things they need from their community. And for me, I can get a stroller for a day in every city around the globe.