Member Profile: Kyle Sales
February 15, 2017
Homecoming, Boat Missing
After spending ten years in Seattle, Kyle Sales decided it was time to move back to his hometown of Boise, Idaho. Kyle recalls his move back to Boise: “It was the end of July and it was a thousand degrees outside. In my childhood, I had done a great deal of boating. Having recently moved back to Boise, I was ready to get back out on the water.”
There was just one problem: his cousins were grown up and their families had sold their boats, leaving Kyle without easy access to the water. It was late in the boating season, and if he bought a boat, he knew he would only use it a couple of times before winter. It simply wasn’t a good time to buy.
Kyle and his wife thought it would be easy to rent one. However, after some research, Kyle discovered that the cost to rent a boat in Boise averaged around $300 a day. Kyle went on to take a look at the rental companies’ inventory and quickly realized that the high-priced rentals were of poor quality.
One day, Kyle decided to rent a boat regardless of the circumstances. In doing so, he found even more problems in the rental industry; it was hard to find availability for watercraft, and the rental process was cumbersome. Kyle called multiple rental companies in search of a boat. When he finally found one, he spent a great deal of time in the rental company’s office filling out paperwork. There had to be a better way to rent.
Through this grueling process, Kyle found a huge opportunity. After much thought, he decided to start Outdoor Toy Share, a peer-to-peer rental platform for RVs, jet skis, boats, ATVs, and more.
Have a boat collecting dust in your garage? Use the Outdoor Toy Share platform to rent it out when it’s not in use, helping to cover a large portion of the cost of ownership. On the renter side, renting on Outdoor Toy Share gives renters access to more available inventory, a selection of quality products, and a simplified rental process. These benefits come at a far lower price than other renting alternatives.
A sit-down with Kyle Sales
What did you do before working on Outdoor Toy Share?
“I completed my undergrad at the College of Idaho, and then went to grad school at Boise State University. I became a CPA upon graduation, working in audit, tax, and M&A. After that, I worked in private equity for three years, and then was director of a tech company. This background really prepared me to found Outdoor Toy Share.”
How did you get involved with entrepreneurship?
“I wasn’t the guy born knowing I wanted to be an entrepreneur, who got on a whiteboard and decided where I should spend my time. I had a set of experiences, ran into a problem, and thought it would be a great one to solve.”
What has been your greatest success in founding Outdoor Toy Share thus far?
“The product market fit has been the biggest thing. Renters are seeing that we have better stuff at better prices, and it’s easier for them to get the products than through other renting alternatives.
Owners are realizing that they are able to take something where they are absorbing all of the costs (RV, boats, jet skis) and rent them out on the platform as much as they want. In doing so, they are able to cover costs for the equipment, and some are even using Outdoor Toy Share to make thousands of dollars.”
How did you hear about Trailhead and what prompted you to join?
“I am an investor in the Boise Angel Alliance, and I started seeing some joint programming going on between Trailhead and the organization. This put Trailhead on my radar. The programming at Trailhead is great, and I found myself down here at various events more and more often. Now I spend a couple days a week working here.”
What stage is the company currently in?
“We have found that the technology is a good fit for the company, the market is there, and we are currently working to scale.”
What are your most important short-term goals for Outdoor Toy Share?
“Outdoor Toy Share already holds a presence in Boise, McCall, and Coeur d’Alene. Over the coming six months, I want it to expand into new markets.”
What is your long-term vision for the company?
“Outdoor Toy Share is going to be a full-scale, peer-to-peer rental platform for outdoor vehicles. The next step in the process is to gain funding and start aggressively targeting new markets.”
In what ways has Trailhead’s workspace helped you along your journey?
“The programming is definitely awesome. Also, the overall environment of the workspace is more creative than most. There is usually a buzz around the place. It’s awesome to be working alongside people who are working on their own various ventures.”
What were some of the greatest challenges faced in founding Outdoor Toy Share?
“Airbnb and Uber are making the sharing economy a household name, but it is still a new concept for some people. When you ultimately look at what we are doing, it is clear we need to build trust with customers. The assets we deal with are pretty expensive. Instilling trust to safeguard an owner’s vehicle is often tough.
On another note, it’s important to know that Outdoor Toy Share screens all renters, and provides insurance for all parties involved. All reservation requests are either approved or declined by vehicle owners, and users can rate their renting experience. The company puts a great deal of emphasis on security for both owners and renters throughout the process of a rent.”
Do you have any statistics exemplifying the growth that Outdoor Toy Share has seen?
“We are seeing 300 – 500% growth over the past year!”
What has been your favorite Trailhead program or event so far?
“Startup Grind has been great in terms of the speakers it has brought in. Pivot Desk and the Techstars panel were also great events.”
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting a company in Boise?
“Trailhead is a great spot. There is some great programming, a list of books to check out, and a group of people around here that can help you accelerate the learning curve. They can help you realize what won’t work, or help push you towards the pivot that will.”