Construction machinery marketplace EquipmentShare today announced $20 million in new funding to help bring more efficiency to the buying, selling, and lending of equipment, which ranges from backhoes to bulldozers and bandsaws. The projected size of the global construction equipment market this year is around $192 billion, and the Columbia, Missouri-based startup wants to become the online marketplace that helps put these tools to use.
While EquipmentShare is a recent Y Combinator alum (founded in 2014), the company’s founders are not a pair of twenty-something hotshots just out of Harvard. Brothers William and Jabbok Schlacks, ages 33 and 39, respectively, grew up in a small town in Missouri that banned any form of personal property. So the idea of helping people share things came naturally.
“My brother and I have been involved in a number of companies together,” said William Schlacks, president of EquipmentShare, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We’ve always had a foothold in construction and contracting, so we’ve experienced the frustrations of asset management, utilization, and rental. This is really a birth of those frustrations.”
While many sharing-economy startups invoke comparisons to Uber and Airbnb, Schlacks dismissed that notion. “That’s an easy way to look at it. There’s a lot more complexity to it though because we’re dealing with mobile assets, and it’s a B2B marketplace.”
The startup says it has approximately 1,000 companies and contractors currently using the marketplace, and the bulk of them are renters. Equipment listed includes forklifts, mobile generators, and drill rigs, with rates depending on the weight of the equipment (1,000 to 200,000 pounds). The startup also takes a cut out of every transaction that occurs on the marketplace.
In addition to providing a platform on which to rent, buy, or borrow machinery, EquipmentShare also provides logistics to assist the lenders and renters. This includes drivers that pick up the equipment from the lender and deliver it to borrowers and mechanics available for repairs, inspections, maintenance, and more.
The startup is now focusing on providing an extra layer of connectivity to its contractor firms. “We usually deal with contractors who have quite a bit of fleet, and the first step is connecting that fleet,” said Schlacks. “So we built a fairly powerful fleet management software that connects all their assets, vehicles, trucks, and different types of equipment.”
The result? ES Track, a standalone product that can track the location, condition, and use of a fleet in real time through automated data collection. Previously only available to EquipmentShare’s marketplace users, the software will now be open to any contractor. The startup plans to officially launch this new product at the Conexpo conference in March.
This latest investment was led by Insight Venture Partners, with existing investors Romulus Capital and Y Combinator also joining the round. The company has raised $29 million, to date. The new money will be used to further scale the platform and expand to new U.S. markets, including San Francisco, New York, Seattle, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami.
EquipmentShare currently has 95 employees.
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