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Renting and leasing sports equipment

IMC graduate Sebastian Waldbauer founded a start-up that allows people to rent and lease sports equipment - a kind of Airbnb for sports enthusiasts.

Portrait von Sebastian Waldbauer

"Our vision is that everyone who is faced with a decision to buy outdoor equipment should first think about renting through NEEDIT.", so Sebastian Waldbauer.

Lease and rent outdoor equipment in an uncomplicated way

In August 2020, our Export-oriented Management graduate Sebastian Waldbauer founded his own start-up together with his business partner Alexander Fally. NEEDIT is a platform through which outdoor equipment can be rented and leased.

Payment processing is handled entirely by the start-up, which ensures a worry-free transaction. All other formalities such as pick-up, return or deposit can be settled between renter and lessor via chat function.

After the first test phase and the launch of the official application of the platform in June 2021, a lot has already happened: Currently, NEEDIT has 290 active users and in July/August alone, the platform was accessed over 11,000 times.

Our graduate talks about his start-up:

Renting instead of buying: Our vision is that everyone who is faced with a decision to buy outdoor equipment should first think about renting through NEEDIT. Because for all those people who like to try out new things - i.e. new sports or camping - ownership often doesn't pay off.

We are particularly active in the cities relevant to us, which currently include Salzburg, Vienna and Innsbruck. In a first major step, we want to create a geographically concentrated offer there, so that our potential renters will soon be able to choose from an extensive range.

But of course, we also have big plans. We want to be active in the German-speaking region as soon as possible and are also currently looking at how we can best connect tradespeople to our platform. Because that's what makes us unique: no other company in Austria offers a sustainable sales channel through which both tradespeople and private renters can offer outdoor equipment for rent.

Shared Economy as a concept for success

Shared economy products and services are already everywhere in our lives when it comes to areas such as housing, cars, music, agricultural machinery or parking. So why not extend this idea to outdoor sporting goods?

The population in and around the Alpine region is very experience-driven and sometimes also invests a lot of money in the necessary equipment. A study by McKinsey from 2021 states that customer behaviour in the sporting goods industry has changed significantly due to COVID: Customers want to move more to compensate for the reduced movement caused by lockdowns and home-office. At the same time, the issue of sustainability is also gaining importance in sports. Ownership is out. Throwing away is out. The demand for sports products and experiences that are available quickly and inexpensively is growing.

An opportunity for the environment

It takes a collective effort in society to reduce our ecological footprint in the area of consumer goods. If we only buy what we really need and share what we do not have in constant use, we can reduce the footprint of all of us in the medium and long term.

So if we all work together, outdoor equipment can be used much more collectively thanks to the Shared Economy - the whole community is thus working together against the trend of throwing things away.

So renting via NEEDIT not only benefits the household budget, but also the environment. Shared economy is the future, if you ask us!

Have the courage to break new ground

Many founders dream of their own start-up all their lives. That wasn't the case for me. I grew into it step by step, so to speak, and the start-up idea was only a side issue for me during my studies.

My business partner and I started "spinning ideas" in 2019 and it became more and more. In addition, the extremely positive feedback from friends and family quickly made us realise that our project is not just about self-fulfilment, but rather about being able to make a difference with a product that we really believe in. I have never felt this way before in my career. That's why the urge to push this project was so strong.

It all depends on the right co-founder

Alexander and I have known each other for many years, as we had our first work experience in a company almost at the same time. We worked together a lot during this time and I therefore very soon got to know his professional way of working and realised that we were "on the same wavelength".

A close friendship developed very quickly from a colleague relationship and we have also undertaken several trips together in the meantime, including a trip to Brazil lasting several weeks. We therefore know each other extremely well, know each other's strengths and weaknesses and can also address critical issues. I always knew that if I started such a project, it would definitely be with him.

My passion: arousing customers' emotions

As a native of the Waldviertel region, I was taught a love of nature by my parents from an early age, so to speak, and I have always been very sporty. I realised quite early that I am an emotional person and that I want to live this trait in my private life as well as in my job. Privately, I am a passionate mountaineer and sport climber.

In my job, I was able to benefit from this trait in the product marketing of a car manufacturer from Germany - but especially now in my current position as an account manager in an international digital agency. Because here I have the opportunity to deal with numerous different brands. I love working on emotionally charged products and brands and thus awakening the emotions of customers. That's why NEEDIT is also just the right project for me. Here I can combine nature, sport and an emotional message.

At NEEDIT, I am responsible for marketing, among other things. Even though the marketing landscape has changed completely since my studies in Krems and has now shifted almost entirely to online channels - especially in our industry - I feel very comfortable in this area. Because it has already become clear over the last few years that social media marketing & co. suits me.

International experience that shapes

Despite everything, I still benefit from my studies today. The highlights were definitely the stays abroad during the internship and the semester abroad. I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams what I learned on these long trips in terms of independence, problem-solving skills, tolerance towards other cultures and language skills.

I was allowed to see and experience so much in my younger years and I also learned during this time that Austria is the right choice for me as a "home base".

Finally: Sebastian's tips for a successful start-up

  • As in a love relationship, it is important to find a partner who you really trust. Your skills should also match each other perfectly. If these parameters are right, it's much more fun when there are two of you!
  • Let your gut instinct be your guide and if there is ever any doubt: Hands off! This applies both to decisions that have to be made and to people you meet along the way. We always say "Don't believe everything, but always believe in yourself".
  • Setbacks are normal, and you should not let them stop you in any way.
  • Establish funding that makes sense for you as soon as possible. There will come a point when your own funds are exhausted and you will need more funds for further expansion. This process will take time and you should consider this early enough.

To the Export-oriented Management degree programme