A new website that allows the renting of personal property such as sports equipment is being launched by young Halifax entrepreneur Zachary Laberge.

Laberge, 15, has raised $70,000 and is taking his site, frenter, through the Propel program, all while working through Grade 10 at École Secondaire du Sommet.

Frenter facilitates processes like online payment, insurance, and marketing.  Laberge intends for frenter to grow the sharing economy and cut waste by allowing people to share diverse items including leisure equipment, electronics, and kitchen supplies.

The young entrepreneur has grown up with sharing-economy sites such as Uber and Airbnb and got the idea for frenter in January 2020. He sees his ideal owner-users as mature people who have acquired a lot of items they don't necessarily want to part with, while renters are, “likely to be adventurers and weekend warriors who want to try new things.”

“The idea is to try it all without having to buy it all,” he said in an interview.  

He said there are similar sites but frenter has a particular focus on peer-to-peer users. Business owners will be allowed to use frenter but, unlike other users, they will pay a subscription fee.  Frenter will charge most users only exhange fees, whereas, he said, some sites take up to 30 percent of rental fees.

“The key to dealing with competitors is to define yourself,” he said. “Then users and consumers will decide.”

To date, Laberge has bootstrapped the company and raised money from family and friends. He is now seeking further investors. He has done a lot of the development work on the site himself, using bubble.io, a platform which allows users to build apps without coding.   

Halifax is Laberge’s initial market. He then intends to scale through the region and throughout North America. But growth will take time because the focus will be on growing communities. 

“There is a danger in growing too fast," he said. "I want to build rental communities in each city.”  

The youngster said he is grateful to the many advisers who have helped him reach this stage, most recently, Propel.

“Propel has taught me to focus on certain keys aspects of my business and helped me structure and focus my business planning and activities,” he said.  

He has also recently joined the Volta Network and is looking forward to spending time with other tech entrepreneurs.