Rentmania rides the wave of the sharing economy with a peer-to-peer rental platform, for anything from baby clothes to camper vans. Now the Moscow-originated company is eyeing international markets supported by its newly opened headquarters in Helsinki.
Rentmania chose Helsinki for its international base because of its vibrant, open and collaborative tech community. In the picture from the left: Arkadiy Meshkovskiy, Slava Dmitriev and Vlad Ayukaev.
Owning too many things is a common complaint. Cupboards full of barely used items do not go well with the ideals of both sustainability and compact city living. But Rentmania offers a solution. Its peer-to-peer marketplace of the same name allows people to securely rent out any of their unused items. Rentmania takes care of background checks, insurance, payments and even deliveries to make the process fast and easy.
"We call ourselves a goods-on-demand service," explains Arkadiy Meshkovskiy, CEO of the company. "Rentmania allows goods to work for their owners and lets consumers spend less on what they only need for a short duration. It is a new philosophy of consumption for a more sustainable future."
Rentmania has already proven demand. Since its launch in 2016 the marketplace has signed up circa 40,000 users in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Now the company is preparing for international expansion with a pilot service planned in the US and new headquarters opened in Helsinki in March 2018.
Rentmania stems from Meshkovskiy's own experiences. He started working on his peer-to-peer rental idea in 2013, after reading an article on the sharing economy and realising he had an expensive tent sitting unused in his garage.
At first Meshkosvkiy presented his concept to the startup community in Moscow. Encouraged by the positive response he gathered a team to actively develop the service in 2015. Two years later Rentmania participated in Startup Sauna, a Finnish accelerator programme. This is when the company first started to consider moving its operations to Helsinki to support its international ambitions.
What attracted Rentmania to the Finnish capital was its strong high tech ecosystem and startup community and its proximity to both Russia and the rest of Europe.
"Helsinki has a very vibrant business environment. It is somewhat similar to Silicon Valley, everyone knows each other and they are ready to help," says Vlad Ayukaev, Chief of Product Development at Rentmania. "The other cool thing about Finland is its relatively small yet very efficient government. It feels that all public services here do really care about your business and want you to focus on your business rather than swamping you in bureaucracy. "
In fact, it was the support from Finnish public organisations Business Finland, Helsinki Centre in St. Petersburg and Helsinki Business Hub (HBH) which helped Rentmania to make the decision.
"HBH provided us with a big network of people in the local ecosystem. They also provided us with information and help with setting up the office in Helsinki," Ayukaev describes the support the company received. "No one did our work for us, but the help [of these organisations] is very important because when an entrepreneur arrives in Finland they don't want to worry about doing everything correctly."
Rentmania is also one of the first companies to use Finland's new startup permit. It is targeted at innovative startup founders coming from outside the EU.
"We believe in Rentmania's business potential and in the company's bright and talented team. We are very happy they have chosen Helsinki," say both Maria Hartikainen, Senior Business Advisor at Helsinki Business Hub, and Karen Grigoryan, Head of Business Finland, Invest in Finland operations in Russia.
Rentmania has started with three people in Finland and plans to grow its Helsinki team up to ten employees within the next couple of years. They will focus on the company's business development and marketing operations as Rentmania continues to build up its Russian marketplace and prepare for a pilot launch in Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, Rentmania will test the waters with a single niche product: recreational vehicles (RVs). Expanding from there to other categories and cities. The goal for Rentmania is to build an international company which operates across most major cities in North America and Europe.
"We want to grow our operations out of Helsinki and use it as our executive office. It is going to be the place where we manage our business, maybe even subsidiaries, in future and where our core talent is located," Ayukaev explains.
Summing up Rentmania's success to date, Meshkovskiy puts it down to timing. He points out that, while the sharing economy has always existed, now time and technology have converged to take it to the next level.
"People have always borrowed from each other and sold small items to each other. But now technology is both affordable and established to boost sharing economy, promote social activity and increase trust," Meshkovskiy concludes.
Head of Invest in, Russia, Business Finland
M: +7 903 773 2776
karen.grigoryan (at) businessfinland.fi