Tech Pitch: Fat Lama

By giving creative professionals a place to rent out their equipment, this platform provides users with "cheap, convenient" access to high-quality gear...

Company name: Fat Lama
Founders: Rosie Dallas, Owen Turner-Major and Chaz Englander
Background: CMO Dallas has a background in digital marketing and graphic design; Turner-Major, CTO, is a graduate of both Oxford University and coding bootcamp Founders & Coders; CEO Englander comes from a finance background and previously helped European start-ups fundraise in London.
Based in: London
Launched: November 2016

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Fat Lama is the first insured peer-to-peer rental marketplace for ‘stuff’. The platform lets you rent out your underused equipment and gives you cheap, convenient short-term access to things you need.
  • We’re the first platform of our kind to offer lenders insurance (for up to £25,000 per item) on any item they rent out to another user.
  • Since launching late last year, we’ve seen fast organic growth among creative professionals throughout the UK. DJs, filmmakers, events planners, photographers and others are getting cheap access to industry-standard gear and are also earning a significant income by renting out kit of their own.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

At one level, by renting out their equipment, our users are disrupting a top-down hire industry. Borrowers avoid prohibitive deposits and enjoy hire prices which can be 20-30% cheaper than those of traditional brick and mortar rental shops.

On the other side of the coin, our model enables individuals, freelancers, small and medium enterprises and more to monetise their assets efficiently and safely. Lending through Fat Lama allows people to get far greater value from the equipment they’ve invested in.

More broadly speaking, we believe Fat Lama is disrupting a culture of unnecessary ownership. The consumer shift towards a collaborative economy means people are now sharing cars, houses and services every day. It’s transforming our relationship with almost everything else that we own. We’re looking forward to a future in which any item – from niche, high-end gear to the everyday – is accessible within minutes.

Is Fat Lama funded?

We are, yes. We received an initial $1.3m funding from private individuals in March of this year. Following our time on Y Combinator this summer, we’ve more recently fundraised a further $1.5m from Greylock Partners, Paul Buchheit and Justin Waldron.

What were you doing before you started Fat Lama?

In the months before starting work on Fat Lama, the founders were renovating a workspace in Hoxton. They became pretty disillusioned with the amount of money they were wasting on single-use items – things like tile-cutters, industrial vacuum cleaners, drills etc. They worked out that they’d have saved thousands over the duration of the project if only they’d had cheap, on-demand access to some of this gear.

Aware that others on the same street likely had the exact tools lying around unused, Fat Lama was founded to enable cheap, convenient peer-to-peer rentals of specialised equipment.

What’s the best thing about being based in London?

From individual musicians to large-scale production companies, London is full of incredibly creative people. Our London base has meant that in our early stages, we were launching in the midst of tens of thousands of creative professionals – it’s been exciting to see organic, word-of-mouth-growth among this community.