When brothers Brendon and Bryan left their corporate jobs to start their own gifting e-commerce business together, they rented and renovated an office in Shah Alam.
Due to limited cash flow, they tried borrowing tools from friends and family but it was time-consuming, and they couldn’t get what they needed.
In the end, they still had to buy those tools. But 5 months later, the bought tools had only been used several times and were now collecting dust in a corner.
This was when the duo had the idea of sharing them with someone else who might need them, which brought about the idea of establishing Borobear.
Don’t Buy, Just Boro
Speaking to Brendon, Vulcan Post learnt that after receiving his bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship in 2017, he found his first job as an e-commerce executive in the beauty industry.
Fast forward to October, 2019, and he was launching Borobear with Bryan. It started with a single intention—to enable people to rent anything they needed from people nearby.
“If this renting service existed last time, we would have definitely gone for it instead of travelling all the way to town and spending a huge upfront cost to buy all the tools,” Brendon told us, referring to the time when they were renovating their Shah Alam office.
Like most other P2P rental platforms, Borobear benefits both the owners and renters of a product.
Owners can rent out their unused items to people who need it, and earn some extra income from that, while renters can save on any large upfront costs.
“With the sharing economy, people can get the item they want faster and at a lower price than at traditional rental shops. As we know, traditional rental shops require us to place a huge amount of cash deposit before we start renting,” Brendon said.
In line with their vision of renting, selling or buying items on Borobear is thus prohibited.
Vetting Owners & Renters
With a quick glance at Borobear’s current homepage, you’d see various objects like BBQ grills, GoPros, drones, and more.
According to Brendon, they’re currently focusing more on travel and party items, but besides prohibited items like human services, animals, consumables, or firearms, to name a few, they’re open to hosting almost every other kind of item.
Owners and renters are vetted through their submission of verification documents like IC/passport, phone numbers, and emails before listing or renting.
Since scamming can work both ways, Borobear also holds payment from owners and renters in escrow to ensure a good overall experience for both parties.
Once the rental process is marked completed, the rental will be credited into the owner’s account.
On the other hand, renters are required to pre-authorise a security deposit before renting, but the security deposit isn’t paid or taken from the renter’s account—it’s simply an agreement by the renter to pay up to that amount in the event of damage to an item.
“Legal action will be taken if the renter steals or damages items and refuses payment,” Brendon assured us. “If the item is stolen or damaged, the owner can claim up to RM3,000 from Borobear as compensation.”
Growing The Renting Community
To put up a listing on Borobear, owners simply register and list their items with a daily rental fee of about 5% of the item’s original value (retail price).
When a transaction goes through, Borobear takes 15% of it from the owners, but doesn’t charge renters anything at the moment.
Currently, the website has over 1,200 registered users. However, trust issues between owners and renters remain, which poses a challenge to Borobear, so we asked Brendon how they plan to overcome it.
“We are building a ‘neighbourhood’ community to build trust, starting from a strong relationship like mutual friends’ referral because people are more likely to trust their friends instead of strangers,” he answered.
Brendon believes that the community will then grow based on friend referrals, as the platform also helps people network and meet new friends.
As their community grows, Brendon shared that their expansion plans also include growing their own team from 4 to 20 people in the next year.
In the coming 2 years, they plan to expand their service coverage to the rest of West and East Malaysia too, since they’re only operational in Klang Valley for now.
“Borobear will be the trusted and reliable community in Malaysia for everyone to borrow anything from people nearby in a faster, cheaper and safer way,” Brendon shared his vision.
However, it’s a fact that people still aren’t confident in lending their stuff to strangers. To combat this, Brendon told us that they will work with insurance companies to provide their users with better insurance.
Besides that, Borobear also plans to provide an on-demand delivery service for the convenience of its users.
For a Borobear renter to receive an item, they have to meet up in person with the owner to collect it. Borobear justifies this by stating that this enables both parties to verify the item on the spot, which is true.
However, if Borobear does introduce an on-demand delivery service in the future, I foresee some concerns.
First of all, I’m assuming that this means the item would first have to be transferred from the owner to Borobear, then from Borobear to the renter. My immediate thought is that it would take much longer for the item to arrive.
The other concern I see is: if an item gets damaged in transit during the delivery by Borobear, who would the blame fall upon? This would also mean that the item verification by both parties in person would be impossible.
Nonetheless, Brendon did say that these were only future plans, so hopefully Borobear can work out these concerns before they happen.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups we’ve written on here.