Fat Lama

Startup Interview Series

Welcome to the first post in our new Startup Interview Series. As part of our networking to integrate ourselves into the startup community, we’re going around interviewing interesting startups. This week, we met the team from Fat Lama, the rental marketplace for everything!

Who are Fat Lama?

Fat Lama is a fully-insured peer-to-peer rental site which allows people to both borrow the items they need short-term and also rent out their seldom used belongings. We aim to provide a 24-hour service (although people do occasionally need to sleep!) so no matter how late you’ve left it for your event, someone near you can always help you out with what you need!

What inspired Fat Lama? How did it begin?

Back in 2015, two of our founders (Chaz and Rosie) left their jobs and bought a lease on a co-working space in East London. It took them a few weeks of intensive work to renovate the space for hire. One day they needed a tile-cutter; the next, they needed a cordless power drill and a vacuum cleaner. It was expensive and unsustainable to buy everything outright. What’s more, rental shops for things like tools, furniture and cleaning equipment either didn’t exist or were pretty tricky to access: closed at weekends, closed after 5pm, located on the other side of London, required a deposits etc. It was almost impossible to find niche items at short notice, so Chaz and Rosie left the project realising they’d have saved themselves a load of money and time if only they could have rented from others nearby. So they pursued the idea and made it into a reality with Fat Lama: no deposits, no shop-front rental premiums, no hassle. The rest is history!

What can I rent?

Almost anything. What we won’t insure are dangerous items – that means no guns, no chainsaws, no chemicals, no Donald Trump… Nor will we insure vehicles, properties, pets or kids. For pretty much anything outside of that, you’re good to go!

What are you doing to develop trust on your platform?

We’re building a safe and friendly community where trust is nothing but the norm. First off, all of our lenders and borrowers are KYC and AML checked using our sophisticated third-party verification tool. No rentals can take place without both parties passing our stringent ID checks. Meeting other users face to face is also important for trust, and it’s always worth meeting new people! More broadly speaking, it’s pretty amazing to see just how quickly trust in the sharing economy is growing – it wasn’t long ago that the idea of having a stranger stay in your house was met with outright suspicion. It’s fair to say Airbnb aren’t struggling for customers these days.

What makes Fat Lama stand out from the crowd? Say, Gumtree or eBay?

Gumtree and eBay are platforms whereby people may put their unwanted items up for sale. Fat Lama focuses on those items that people want to keep but might only use occasionally. Our platform enables and insures people to rent those items out to earn a little extra income on the side.

Fat Lama also allows people to rent stuff they don’t want to buy, stuff they can’t afford, stuff they don’t have space to store and stuff they’ll only use for a day/weekend!

What happens if someone damages my item?

All items that get listed on our site are covered up to their full value, so in the event of your item getting damaged, fear not: we’ve got you covered. You can read more on the in and outs of our policy here.

What are the most popular items for rent on Fat Lama at the moment?

Anything from projectors and cameras to lighting rigs and DJ decks. It depends on the day of the week or even what national/global events are in the calendar – no doubt paella pans will be a hot ticket come the summer months… Drones are also a popular rental. Not many people can afford to buy one but are delighted to be able to rent one for a weekend at under £60.

How can I sign up?

Easy peasy. Click here to sign up and don’t forget to share your code with a friend to give them £25 and get £25 yourself when they make their first rental!

Can I rent an actual llama?

You betcha! From personal experience, we would recommend Larry and Lorna.