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Launch HN: Feather (YC S17), painless furniture rental for people who move a lot
79 points by jayreno on June 29, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 123 comments
Feather (https://rentfeather.com) is a furniture rental company, setting out to provide stylish, affordable furniture to people and startups that move frequently.

I've moved 5 times in 6 years living in New York, and each time I spent an overwhelming amount of time at IKEA buying, schlepping, and assembling furniture I didn't exactly want. And at the end of each lease, I found myself with furniture that didn't travel well to my new apartment, and often had to scrap it, only to return to IKEA again to furnish my new apartment.

It was a cycle of buying things I didn't really want, that didn't really last - and I'm sure many of you have gone through the same trouble.

That gave me the idea for Feather. Click a few buttons and your furniture is delivered, fully assembled, and placed in the room of your choice. And importantly, when you're ready to move, tap a button and we'll come and pick it up.

We're excited to help people live more free and flexible lifestyles - and would love the feedback of the HN community!

Thanks all,

Jay, Founder & CEO




The problem with this business is that the company ends up with warehouses of used furniture. Then what? Check it over, clean it, repair it, and send it out again? Customers are going to complain if you send them beat-up junk. You're going to need a cleaning and inspection operation, an upholstery shop, and an air conditioner shop. What to do with the rejects? Sell downmarket? Put on Craigslist? Goodwill?

If it takes you 2-4 days to deliver a bed, you're not competitive. A more useful service might be "we deliver a bed, a dresser, a table, and some chairs in 4 hours". Add in bed linens, towels, some basic dishes and tableware, and a starter kit of toilet paper, paper towels, laundry and dish detergent, and soap. Instant setup of light housekeeping, just what someone needs when they start a new job in a new place and have more urgent things to do than fuss with furniture shopping. You can sell them more stuff later.

You're in NYC and SF, non-car cities. Offer this primarily in places where people don't have cars but move often.


I like to move as well. What I've found:

The problem with every rental place I've seen is how expensive they are. You could just buy the furniture outright for the cost of three months rental. Doesn't exactly match the year lease does it? :-/

There is a used market for IKEA furniture, and they're swapped regularly on Craigslist for half price assembled. Sometimes you can even rent for "free" by buying used and selling later. New items can be sold at half price as well. So I haven't had as much difficulty with that, though I wish they had more "modular" i.e. snap together furniture.

So there are some challenges to this endeavor, good luck.


Thanks for the thoughts! Curious to hear what type of furniture you would be purchasing that would break even to our furniture at 3 months?

The breakeven price for our customers is always longer than the total price of the rental. Wonder if we should be explicitly stating this on our site?


What about this bed in Queen Size? (First piece I priced out)

https://rentfeather.com/collections/bedroom/products/dunham-...

https://www.wayfair.com/Zipcode%E2%84%A2-Design-Colby-Uphols...

Feather 3 month rental price: $207

Wayfair purchase price (including shipping): $201


See my reply to koolba below.


Your prices may be lower than I've seen, though there are a lot of variables of course, not sure. But whether breaking even at 3 or 6 months is not much different.

I think the larger point (I'm now realizing) is that rental shops focus on monthly prices when it often doesn't make sense. Usually only already-furnished apartments can be had for a month or three. Unfurnished usually requires a full year lease, with only a fraction available for six months, say in downtown or a university town.

So, I might try lower monthly prices for a 6 and 12 month commitments. I think that would get me "over the hump" as a potential customer.


Yes you should. I was looking at some kind of case study on your site to get an idea about which situations renting would be a good idea.


Inexpensive, mass-market furniture is going to be hard to build a business around in this regard. A lot of rightful squawking about prices compared to Overstock/Wayfair.

What if you're targeting too downmarket with this?

What if instead you marketed heirloom-quality furniture at the same price point, but gave the option at the end of "leases" to purchase or relinquish that furniture. You get margin on the lease, get paid out for the rest of the asset if they buy, but if they don't, you have great inventory that you can mark down.

That would give frequent movers access to something better than wayfair/overstock/ikea without having to commit to a $3500 armoire if it doesn't match the aesthetic or lifestyle that they have after moving or growing.

Good luck and all!


Good advice.

I want to add that for $18/mo you can get a knock-off of a Hans Wegner PP501 [1]. That's very expensive for what's guaranteed to be a dime-a-dozen Chinese-made replica of the type you find on Wayfair or Overstock [2]. I can't reasonably afford a Wegner (it's about $4,000-5,000 new, and vintage models are ironically even pricier), but I could see myself leasing one.

Leasing isn't just for people who move a lot. Leasing would also allow you to swap out the furniture every now and then.

[1] "Austin chair", https://rentfeather.com/collections/bedroom/products/austing...

[2] Possibly this: https://www.wayfair.com/Stilnovo-The-Kennedy-Arm-Chair-STNO1...


Now that's how you provide constructive, gentle criticism to a vulnerable little startup.


Good idea. Possible we are looking too mass market at the moment. Will keep this in mind.


When I moved to San Francisco a couple of years ago, I was really surprised by how difficult it was to find a fully furnished apartment. I really did not enjoy those trips to IKEA and putting everything together. In contrast, it seems that most apartments in Chiang Mai are fully furnished. We've moved 3 times so far, and it's always just one car ride with a small collection of personal stuff. It's really nice to never have to worry about furniture.

I don't think I would use this service if I was moving to NYC, I'd just look for a furnished apartment.


I grew up on Air Force bases. There, base housing is provided furnished.

On one, the base commander's wife outfitted all the housing with her style of furniture. She was sure she was doing everyone a favor. Naturally, everyone else's wife hated it.

Providing furnished apartments is likely a no-win situation, which is likely why they are hard to find.

Some AF bases had a better system where there was a warehouse with a variety of furniture, and the residents would pick what they wanted. Of course, higher ranking officers got first pick :-)


I've found the same thing.

It seems awfully silly that all summer long, one young person is moving an ikea dresser out of an apartment while another person is moving an ikea dresser into the same apartment.

Obviously there's a "tragedy of the commons" issue when you rent instead of buy, but it seems like there should be a better way to do this. You'd think people hate moving enough to be ok with less selection of furniture, potentially slightly more scratched up stuff, or buying a mattress pad to get over the weirdness of a previously used mattress.


Yep, it's difficult to find fully furnished apartments in a number of cities, especially at a reasonable price. Oftentimes landlords will put significant premiums on apartments they have fully furnished and keep that margin for themselves. If you rent from someone like us, you don't have to pay that premium, and get the added benefit of picking what items you'd like.

We're also partnering with property managers and real estate cos in NYC to help them furnish their units. It seems to be resonating well with them to not have to pay thousands of dollars up front for furniture, and instead can make monthly once their rent checks come in. Helps them with cashflow.


Similar experience moving to bay area from the UK, where furnished apartments are _far_ more common. I remember expressing surprise at a temporary budget for furniture rental in the moving expenses work covered. Given I didn't want to continue paying Cort a ton of money forever for tables and chairs I chose to buy all my own not particularly great furniture straight off the bat.

I always get horrible flashbacks to my own experiences seeing another "fresh off the boat" foreign engineer trying to outfit his entire life in one trip to the East Palo Alto Ikea, using up an entire roll of receipt paper to cover the hundreds of items they had to buy for their new unfurnished home.


Craigslist often has most of what you'll need every weekend, often in the same neighborhood.


I'm heading to Chiang Mai from Manila.

How is it? Everyone says it's a dream

Fast internet, cheap food and nice markets.

Is English only, no Thai really a limiting factor in surviving?


I really like Chiang Mai. I haven't been to Manila, but from what I've read, it sounds like Chiang Mai is a nicer place to live. It's very cheap and has very fast internet. I think it's also very safe, especially late at night. (Apart from the roads, which are very dangerous compared to other countries.)

English is not a problem at all. You can get by with English at many (if not most) restaurants, shops, apartments, lawyers, accountants, hospitals, dentists, etc. etc.


This makes me feel really out of touch. I can't imagine scrapping my furniture just because I'm moving. I've moved every year for the past 4 years. I just pay some movers and they get everything in and out just fine. Some services will even handle packing and unpacking everything for you.

If someone's going to be living somewhere for only 2 or 3 months, I can understand renting. But I don't think renting makes economic sense for most people. You can probably just buy the equivalent or very similar furniture and break even. If you don't wanna assemble it, pay someone on through TaskRabbit or equivalent.


Agreed - scrapping furniture just because you're moving is not a great idea. This will, however, occur often when we buy IKEA furniture (or items of that quality level) that we often have to trash items, or are actually trashed accidentally during a move (think one of their flimsy dressers or wardrobes).

It's a wasteful practice, and an important part of our mission is to keep furniture out of the landfills. That starts by getting as many uses out of the furniture that we can, before it stops working for us, either visually or functionally.


> This will, however, occur often when we buy IKEA furniture (or items of that quality level) that we often have to trash items, or are actually trashed accidentally during a move (think one of their flimsy dressers or wardrobes).

My last move, moving a house almost completely furnished with IKEA furniture, most of which had been around for a decade, only one item (that was inconveniently sized to remove intact, not because of structural failure) didn't make the move.


> Delivery costs $99. Pickup cost varies with the size of your order - if you’re just renting a few items, we’ll keep it between $99-$149, but if you’re outfitting a whole apartment on a 4th-floor walkup, pickup is likely to be a bit more. There is a $99 refundable deposit - we charge you on the first day of your lease, and as long as the furniture is in good shape when we pick it up, it’ll be returned after pickup! There will be a $49 charge added for a weekend delivery.

That's approximately how much IKEA charges for delivering an order though they only charge based on distance. It doesn't matter if you have a single tea light candle or furnishing an entire 25-bedroom castle.

Delivery costs aside, I'm wondering who would pay the steep premiums for these items. Take this bed for example: https://rentfeather.com/collections/bedroom/products/remy-up...

It's listed as $28/month assuming you commit to a 12-month term. That's $336 in total.

What appears to be the same bed is listed on Wayfair to buy for $338: https://www.wayfair.com/Langley-Street%E2%84%A2-Rasmussen-Up...

The annual cost is the same with the difference being at the end of the year you own the bed rather than being on the hook for an eventual "return fee".

So who would willingly enter such a deal? Is the market targeting people who don't have the credit to buy the items out right?

Or is the moving in/out aspect the real kicker? Sure it's a pain in the ass but that's a steep price to pay to avoid one phone call to a moving company (or even just a CraigsList "Free bed ... just pick it up" posting).

EDIT: Here's an even better example. I'm pretty sure these are exactly the same bed as the pictures are identical:

Purchase Queen for $200 w/ free shipping: https://www.wayfair.com/Zipcode%E2%84%A2-Design-Colby-Uphols...

Rent from Queen for $28/month = $336 + $99 shipping: https://rentfeather.com/collections/bedroom/products/dunham-...


I was just about to comment exactly this. I immediately recognized several items from Overstock, Wayfair, etc.

The price of several of the items on Feather is close or sometimes more then the retail price from Overstock/Wayfair and delivery is not included. What am I missing here and what value do they provide?

Feather might as well just drop ship the furniture to your door and send somebody to assemble it.

Edit: Looks like Wayfair even offers 2 day shipping on some items and usually provides an exact delivery day: https://www.wayfair.com/Zipcode%E2%84%A2-Design-Colby-Uphols...

This is anecdotal but a lot of my Furniture is from Overstock/Wayfair and arrives within a week living in a city. Ikea also delivers for a flat fee within a day or two.


Happy to jump in here to talk about pricing, as it seems to be a big topic of conversation (and rightfully so).

- The $338 bed that you linked to is on a massive, one-time sale right now. I've refreshed the page several times and the price keeps changing. The manufacturer must be testing a bunch of things out - take a look. Let's leave that one example there for now.

- The Purchase Queen you linked to does look nearly identical to what we get from our manufacturer that must also sell to Wayfair. And the price on this item has shifted dramatically on Wayfair as well.

Seems you grabbed a particular item that doesn't favor us well in the rent vs buy equation. For the majority of our items: try the same comparison and let me know what you find.

Point here is, we should be more aware of the dynamically shifting prices of items on other sellers websites and re-price our items accordingly. Good catch, thanks.


The specific price comparisons aside, it would make sense to offer ownership after X months. So you can position yourself as a rental + financing service. If you pay rent for, say 14 months, you own the stuff.


That combined with skipping the return fee would set up some interesting dynamics (if you’re at month 10, are you going to ride out the rental to own it or do you pay to get it out). Can’t decide if that feels user hostile or not though :-).


For what it's worth, when we bought from Wayfair it took us 9 weeks to get our couch after paying for express shipping, and it looks OK but it's a really crappy couch. Not saying Wayfair is a bad option, just there's a reason why it's so inexpensive.

At a certain point it makes sense to pay for convenience. It may not be for everyone (honestly it's not for me), but that doesn't mean there's no market.


https://rentfeather.com

This might be a helpful service for real estate agents who need to stage a home for a photographer.


Yep, totally. We've been approached by a number of real estate agents asking if we'll do staging. We're working on seeing of and how this might fit into our business model.


A lot of students end up moving places due to 1) lease change 2) internships. Might be useful to them.

However, the pricing is insanely expensive. 3 month rental for a dresser is $210; same for a AC unit. You can buy new ones for the same price.


> A lot of students end up moving places due to 1) lease change 2) internships. Might be useful to them.

True, then again, established furniture rental firms [0] target them; what's Feather's distinct advantage here?

[0] e.g., https://www.cort.com/student


We plan to differentiate ourselves by offering better quality items, a more modern storefront/interface, a superior customer experience with top notch support, and most importantly, better pricing (we know it's not perfect for every item yet, but our prices are getting better as we grow).


Better pricing than CORTs student packages of $119/mo for three room package for 12+ months?


Yeah this pricing makes 0 sense. I can furnish an apartment from Ikea and pay a contractor to assemble it all for a tad more than what it would cost to rent it all.


I'm not really in the furniture rental demo, but I don't think it's exactly fair to compare the price points of high-quality furniture with what you'd pay for some particleboard abomination from IKEA. There is definitely a market for a service like this, but I think it's more a question of whether they can compete against the likes of Cort et al.

I agree that furniture rental is a slightly weird value prop though. People lease cars because most folks don't want to outlay $35-100k for a depreciating asset, or they want to change models so frequently that buying becomes unwieldy. Furniture is not nearly as expensive, however, and the rent-to-buy ratios are far less favorable.


Ikea has cheap up to quality offerings. The choice of flimsy particle board or fancy wood is up to you.

Next, the type of people that move often are younger and poorer, and the extra schlepping and assembling are not as big of a problem to them.


I agree, but how long does it remain high quality furniture if it's being used, abused and returned every few months? Repair costs could get out of control quickly.


I agree on what people are saying regarding the pricing; however, be sure to compare apples to apples. Part of the value-add in this is it comes complete delivered and ready to use, and hauled away at the end.

If you've ever had to borrow vehicles/friends or go up flights of stairs, spend an evening assembling, or wade through buyers in classified ads to get rid of it, you know that has value as well.


> Part of the value-add in this is it comes complete delivered and ready to use, and hauled away at the end.

Aren't delivery and pickup charged services on top of the rental fee? So, it's not a value-add, just an available service (as is the case with incumbent rental providers, and also with most furniture sellers, except haul-away, which is only occasionally offered and even then only in a form useful if you aren't moving, since the haul away and delivery need to be at the same place.)


You're exactly right. There are a number of other costs associated with getting the furniture, assembly, and selling or scrapping costs that are sometimes difficult to quantify.

Wondering how y'all think we should be communicating this to our customers? Thanks!


Just glancing at the home page, I see two sofas for over $100 /mo. At that price, even if you're someplace for only a year, it makes more sense to buy. Especially if you don't mind the effort of reselling, which could be minimal -- even at firesale prices you'd still come out way ahead vs rental fees that high.


I just craigslist it all. I've never actually paid for a couch — and I find really nice couches, they're not like stained bed-bug ridden things. People just want to get rid of them.


The ~$100/month price is our 3 month price. So total cost to you to have either of those sofas is $300 vs the cost to buy them retail at $600, which excludes assembly.

Fire sales are easier said than done. Takes time to get real replies via craigslist, and often times you might forget to sell the item till days before you're moving, adding to the headache.


Granted in a 3 month scenario, the total out of pocket cost is $300 but it's a bit disingenuous to directly compare that to the $600 cost of the couch.

No matter how you look at it, the renting option will be more expensive. Just own it and don't try to defend it or make it sound less than it is using shaky comparisons. Doing so just makes you sound shadier than necessary.


the price is $47/mo if you rent for a year


That's makes it closer, but still not a slam dunk, which for me a service like this should be. Eg, $35 / mo for a couch including drop off and pick up (which it looks like they do) makes renting very attractive.

EDIT: looks like there are delivery and pickup fees, actually. I'd like to see those included in the price for rental periods of, say, X months or more where ideally X would 6 but 12 is probably fine.


What differentiates you from the dozens of other furniture rental services out there? This isn't exactly a new industry. From what I see online, your prices are pretty comparable to Cort's. But as a consumer I'm pretty sure Cort will still be around in 6 months, whereas I'm not so sure about you guys (no offense, I just mean because you're a startup, not because I think you are necessarily worse).

Is there a reason you decided to enter this more conventional, established market?


Re differentiators: reasonable question, for sure. Check my reply to Charia above.

Re established market: interestingly, Cort and most other rental cos don't have a very good hold on the direct to consumer rental market. They are primarily focused on B2B rentals. Their brands and experiences are under the weather and don't appeal to our target market of younger people who move a lot. There's a new breed of successful companies cropping up that simply refresh the experience and tailor it to the way people live and interact today.


Well, so what if they aren't around in 6 months? Once the furniture is delivered, there's not much risk to the customer after that.


> Well, so what if they aren't around in 6 months? Once the furniture is delivered, there's not much risk to the customer after that.

Since it's rental, not purchase, changing ownership (or change in corporate focus) after the furniture is delivered is a risk to the customer. A VC-funded startup with visions of growth is going to have a different customer service focus than someone trying to milk the last drops out of a dying business, and the former can turn into the latter quickly.


I wouldn't want their assets to be acquired by some organization that specializes in liquidating end-of-life business, and then have to deal with them instead.


Normally a new owner has to honor contracts/leases made with the former owner. Maybe the rules are different in a liquidation situation?


>What other expenses are there?

>...but if you’re outfitting a whole apartment on a 4th-floor walkup, pickup is likely to be a bit more.

Uh, how much more?

>What if I damage my furniture during my lease?

>In general, a little wear and tear shouldn’t be a problem...As long as your furniture is in respectable shape when we come to pick it up, there’s nothing to worry about.

Never answers the question...what if it's damage beyond wear and tear? I'm charged the full price of the item? Minus rental fees I've already paid on it?


Not much more. If the apartment is way up a walkup and we're carrying 4 dressers, 4 tables, 4 armoires, etc, we'll generally change the $99 delivery fee to $149.

Re damage: if you break something, we charge the cost of fixing the item. Since it's different for each item (ie. a small cut in the sofa vs reupholstering an entire sofa that had a bottle of wine spilled on it), it's difficult for us to explicitly state how much it would cost us for each type of damage. But we could certainly try.


Sounds reasonable, add it to the FAQ. ;)


I don't get what's new here. What is feather offering that established furniture rental firms like Brook, CORT, Aaron's, etc., don't provide?


I love it, bookmarked. I'm planning on moving soon and this hits all my pain points. I would much rather pay a monthly bill rather than a fee up front.


What do you think about the fact that, in general, the percentage of Americans who move is on the decline?

> In the mid-1960s, about 20 percent of the population moved in any given year, according to the United States Census Bureau. By 1990, it was approaching 15 percent. Today it’s closer to 10 percent. The percentage that moves between states has fallen by nearly half since the early 1990s.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/21/opinion/how-to-get-americ...

Also, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/02/american-mobility-has...


Great point here. It's a bit counter intuitive, right, that Americans on the whole are moving less. To add some color:

-The majority of Americans that live in rural or somewhat suburban areas are most certainly (though anecdotally) bringing this number down. In cities, you'd expect this number to be much higher than 10%.

-This data point from article below is bit more telling of our target market. Please don't mind their incessant use of the term "millennials" - they know not what they do.

> "44% of millennials say they plan to move again in the next year." (http://blog.rent.com/the-millennial-generation-on-the-move/)


Thanks for the response! Some follow-up questions

1. Does your market analysis differentiate between intra-city and inter-city move? It feels like the service is much more valuable for people moving inter-city.

2. Is there a better source for the "planned future mobility" data? I would expect rent.com to have a strong editorial bias around the perception that the rental market is healthy and renters are competing with each other. I would not expect the same kind of bias in census data.

3. I would love to see the census data's mobility over time cohorted by age group. Is that something you guys have done, and can share?


1. Data is about split. We're seeing people use us for both inter- and intra-city moves.

2. Agreed, might be a bit biased. LMK if you find a different/better source.

3. Census, unfortunately no. But like above, equally curious to see if that data is easily accessible, and if so, would love to dive in.


How much does this track with the population in general just getting old and settling down for retirement?

The baby boomers have been skewing statistics since they were born.


First reaction: premade but customized "kits" would be nice

Second reaction: renting feels wasteful as the consumer and I struggle to see how it's profitable to refurbish/re-rent used furniture.

What would be really enticing: premade, customizable kits with 6-12 month financing and "trade-ups." Where I could sell back a piece for a newer/nicer piece. This might happen during the context of a move.

Providing a moving service too then seems a little tangential to the core business model, however it may still be advantageous since it could fill up slack time between deliveries. You would also have a perfect inventory of furniture and could provide an instant estimate and a one click purchase.


Very much love this idea.

I think a great example of where this could be useful (sorry if someone already said this) is that it makes it incredibly easy to do the initial moving.

A lot of times after moving you just don't have the stamina to go out and buy, have shipped, and then assemble furniture. Especially for 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom places, it would be nice to have the furniture ready to go, while you steadily buy your own stuff within 6 months.

This does assumes you will throw half or more of your furniture when you move, but considering the success of Ikea and also the fragility of their furniture, this seems like something many would do.


This is genius time! I've moved a half dozen times in and since college. No way I can impose on friends and family to help me move anymore. When are you coming to L.A.? I'm all in when you do.


Do you guys do rent to buy? Can I just keep something If I like it enough?


Yes, rent-to-buy is something we recently starting working on. Many people have asked about this, and we agree it makes a LOT of sense for our customers to have that option at any point during their rental. We'll have more info on our site in the coming weeks, but until then, we'll gladly discuss details directly with you if you like.


> Wait a minute, you want me to rent furniture?

> We get it. This is kind of new, right? We’re excited about that.

But it's... not remotely new, right?

[EDIT] seriously, "tiny houses" = mobile homes for well-off millennials, Feather = Rent-a-Center for well-off millennials, Soylent = Ensure for well-off millennials. I guess I should start a payday loans company marketed in such a way that using it doesn't offend the class sensibilities and self-image of well-off millennials and say I'm doing something "new".


Well, you're right - it's not "new". Rent-a-Center has been around since the 70s, but are completely predatory, offering lease to own options that gauge customers (ie. a $700 sofa will cost the customer $2100 after 2 years of payments, and will repo if they miss a payment)

We consider Feather "kind of new" because renting furniture it's not a habit that most people are used to. In fact, 97% of the US owns and deals with their furniture. So we think of ourselves as new in that sense :)


I have this great idea for printing out the top news stories for reading offline. You could print them off early morning and have them waiting for people at train stations, coffee shops, hotels, etc. If it really takes off, people might even be willing to pay for them to be delivered each week or even each morning. And of course you could sell advertising to subsidize the cost!

We're totally going to disrupt the online news business!

Edit: I should mention I love the idea of renting and returning furniture. I very much identify with the pain points mentioned and would prefer to rent high-quality furniture instead of buying and disposing of particle board crap every year or two.


I have this great idea for this new service called real time voice messaging, instead of typing out your message you simply say it into a microphone and it is delivered to the other person in real time audio. It also works in real time in the other direction.

Actually, the idea of online furniture rental is not bad really, we are just having fun with it. I recently sold my house and I rented furniture for staging, that could be another aspect of their business model, those staging people charge a ton, I get it some of it is for the "design" but really there could be a few canned designed on a web page and done far cheaper I think.


Exactly, I'm reminded of Berkshire Hathaway's Cort Furniture. It's been a couple years, but when I walked into a nearby retail presence they had the prices were fairly reasonable. They also do delivery and complete setup. What does this offer that Cort and other companies don't? An online presence?

https://furniture.cort.com/storefront/

Just browsing through here suggest they offer more flexible renting periods, (starting at 1 month vs Feather's 3 month requirement), and a website ui and design that looks fairly modern and easy to navigate.

Cort seems to have higher prices for similar goods (only looked at sofa's), but competing against a much larger corporation on price seems to be a bit of a bad business strategy. In the long run I would guess that if feather seemed like a threat, Cort would simply undercut their pricing in the competing market. I don't see what feather has to offer other than the YC branding and a younger target market.


All great points re Feather vs Cort. To add to the conversation, we see ourselves as different from Cort in 2 key areas:

1) Price: compare our prices and, across the board, you'll find we beat them in every category, for every rental length. True, it's not a long-term strategy of ours. But the reason neither you or I are renting our furniture from CORT today is that their prices are above what we'd be willing to pay for a 12 months lease. 2) Style: the overwhelming majority of their furniture is bland, and as one of our customers put it, "my parent's furniture". Our style is strictly mid-century modern and slightly modern, and designed to appeal to a younger demo.

Cort's main business is going after government and corporate relocation budgets. We are focused more heavily on the larger market, servicing consumers who are moving frequently (i.e. every year or so).


> Cort's main business is going after government and corporate relocation budgets. We are focused more heavily on the larger market, servicing consumers who are moving frequently (i.e. every year or so).

This might be the crux though; gov and corp relos are not cost sensitive, as they're coming out of a large org's budget. Individual consumers (your target market) are. An average relo package given to someone is ~$20k.

I'm definitely going to follow your org to see if the experiment is a success; best of luck!


I just had the thought that perhaps your target market should be companies that hire people who move frequently, not the workers themselves. You get some of the relo dollars, companies can manage their costs more optimally (monthly over 12 months for the employee benefit versus upfront relo/lower relo outlay if a worker opts into your service), and a relationship with an org is going to be more valuable than with a single person.


If you just now discovered market segmentation,you should probably start with a business class before jumping into payday loans.


> Feather = Rent-a-Center for well-off millennials,

RAC is focussed on rent to own rather than (planned) term-and-return rentals. (Which is why they don't advertise convenient pickup, though they do advertise most of the other feature Feather highlights.)

There are plenty of existing traditional furniture rental firms, though, that do target rentals with expected returns and do highlight easy pickup as a selling point.


I know of at least one company (https://www.rentacenter.com/) that does furniture and appliances too. Same basic pitch: we deliver and set up, you can upgrade or stop renting at any time.

Edit: Beaten by your edit.


> I've moved 5 times in 6 years

I've moved 10 times in the past 6 years so I can definitely relate to the problem. I ended up buying a lot of furniture over the years and donating it to a Goodwill store every time I moved. I moved most recently 4 months ago and would have used this service. I'll try to remember you in about 10 months (when my current lease is up).


Awesome, glad to see this resonate. Where are you generally moving to/from? Inter- or intra-city moves?


I've moved from SF Bay to LA, moved back to SF, moved back to LA (probably going to move back to SF again). Within SF Bay and LA moved a couple times as well.


Everything which makes life easier to people who move a lot has potential because people will move more and more. Good idea


YES! I'm a student at Columbia and I hate having to spend money on cheap furniture and having to sell it for a very low price at the end of the school year when moving out. This is EXACTLY what I'm looking for, and I'm sure that a ton of other students are looking for the same too. Best of luck with YC :)


The economics here doesn't make sense.

The cheaper couches hover around $40/month, which over a 12 month period at 7% YOY interest is valued at 473 PV or 508 FV.

What's the motivation against just buying new or used and selling once you're done? A marketplace for this sort of thing would make more sense than a service.


Convenience. If I move frequently, I don't have the time or desire to deal with listing stuff for sale, deal with people coming to look at it, deal with getting paid for it, deal with people trying to scam me, etc. Just open my browser, a couple of clicks and I'm done with it. If it costs me a couple of hundred dollars more over the year, I don't care. It's probably just background noise compared to my income and the convenience is worth it.


Present you is happier to only pay $40/month rather than $500-600 up front.

The hassle of selling used furniture should not be taken lightly, both in it's complexity and its sale price. Items on Craigslist, sold 12 months after purchase, go for 15-20% of retail value.


Sounds like a good experiment, but your biggest competition is stores that offer financing. Why wouldn't I finance and then sell or move away with my furniture? What if the furniture is scratched, broken etc...Do I have to pay the full price now?


We see ourselves as competing more with "ownership" than anything else. To us, ownership of furniture (i.e. responsibility for big ticket items that tie you down) is the problem.

Our competitive advantage to financing options is just that: we remove ownership from the equation while still giving you the ability to pay monthly rather than a large lump sum.


Maybe to address the pricing concerns you could make it more like car leasing deals that often allow to buy the leased car after the contract is over? You could rent furniture but with an option to buy at any time and terminate the monthly payments.


That's exactly what we're working on now. we should have more information about rent-to-buy options on our site soon, but in the meantime we're discussing it directly with anyone who might be interested in this.


Most furniture rental contracts do (or can) include this option.


I just use the Ikea return policy and position myself around Ikeas.

Really missing out in the Philippines. Furniture here overall sucks.

"Return policy

NO-NONSENSE - 365 DAYS TO CHANGE YOUR MIND

mattresses purchases may be exchanged for another mattress one time within 365 days if you don’t love it. products that are returned or exchanged must be clean and undamaged. Refunds will be made in the same form of payment originally used to make the purchase. It’s OK to change your mind. If you’re not totally satisfied with your IKEA purchase you can return it within 365 days, together with proof of purchase, for a full refund*."

http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/customer-service/about-shopping...

Japan is similar.

Singapore is 90 days AFAIK.

Not sure about Thailand, gunna find out.


This is pretty similar to saying, "I don't rent cars, I just steal them." You're buying things, keeping them for <1 year, then returning them for the full value?

Even if this is allowed/legal, it isn't exactly moral.


I've moved three times in the last 12 months, and will move again in three months. Unfortunately, Feather is unlikely to be available in my country (Spain) in the near future.


Fyi you can return items to IKEA for up to 1 year after purchase. Even built.


Hi there,

It sounds interesting.

How does the logistics of this business work? Do you have the forniture? Who does the delivery?

Thank you

Schilick

Thank you


The only thing I'm scared of is Bed Bugs.


Matresses are probably destroyed or recycled. A lot of states have regulations specifically addressing sale of used matresses.

Other furniture can harbor bedbugs of course, as well as other pests such as cockroaches. It's a risk. I'm not sure how it's dealt with.


where is the website?


Added now. Thanks!


> I guess I should start a payday loans company marketed in such a way that using it doesn't offend the class sensibilities and self-image of well-off millennials and say I'm doing something "new".

https://www.lendup.com/


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14665529 and marked it off-topic.


While I suppose it was off topic from the thread I commented in, I did believe it was relevant to the comment I commented on (in my efforts to keep my comments of a high quality).

Thanks for the mod work! It's a thankless job but appreciated.


It's true, and not really your fault. The slippery slope of offtopicness is continuous but opportunities for snippage are discrete.

Thanks for the nice words, doubly nice after getting penalized.


Didn't know about this. Landing page says

> Good Credit Not Required.

> Instant decision.

Wow.


What's wrong with granting loans to people who have bad credit? What are they supposed to do if there's a shortfall or a car breaks down, pawn a wedding ring?

I used to work for LendUp. They're the most caring and altruistic people I've ever met. I mean that literally.

LendUp uses machine learning & data science to decision people with more granularity than a credit score, and can therefore approve much deeper than banks or credit card companies ever would. On top of that, as LendUp learns you're a reliable borrower, it will lower your interest rate as far as it can for you, give you more favorable terms, and even extend a credit card for those that qualify.

LendUp helps people improve their credit when almost no one else will lend to them, and has been shown in independent studies to both improve credit scores and decrease the costs of borrowing for subprime borrowers. These are folks for whom the only other option is payday loans or pawn shops if there's a shortfall, and LendUp uses tech to give them much better options.

It's a noble mission, and one I'm damn proud to have been a part of.


What's wrong is the absurd fees they charge. The only difference I can see between them and payday lenders is the shabby facade of credibility they think they have by being a "tech" company. Nobody who has to scrabble for $250 for an emergency is in a position to drop a 25% vig on top of it in repayment.


But if you lend to high-risk creditors, you have to have non-repayment built into the rate. As of the last time I saw an article on it, the rate of default for payday loans was something like 50%. High interest rates are there to absorb the risk.


(Don't know their expenses, however if they don't pay rent downtown they should be saving some money.)

High fees go hand in hand with the high risk they are taking of not being paid back. Everyone has to chip-in or the model doesn't work.


What would you charge?


> Nobody who has to scrabble for $250 for an emergency is in a position to drop a 25% vig on top of it in repayment.

How do you know?


> LendUp uses machine learning & data science

Stopped reading right there.

The landing page mentions "for people trying to build up credit history"


You're assuming that the only type of data that exists is credit report data, which is wrong by several orders of magnitude.


Why would you stop reading? Credit scores are good, but not everyone (in the world) has them... cash economies, etc.

There was some startup that micro-loaned in poorer countries based on a person's cell phone info (ie, how many contacts, who they called the most, etc, etc).


> I used to work for LendUp. They're the most caring and altruistic people I've ever met. I mean that literally.

Well intentioned loan sharks are still loan sharks. LendUp is attempting to solve a manufactured problem.

People don't need payday loans, they need social issues fixed that trap them in a cycle of poverty. No VC money available for that though.


If you know how to solve the problems of income volatility, low income, or high credit risk at scale, you should do that.


Yeah, it's kind of gross really. These guys prey on the inability of certain income-classes to get credit, obtain loans, etc. Rent-a-Center is the same way :(


Website please?

EDIT: https://rentfeather.com/


[dead]


Please don't create accounts to troll here. It will eventually get your main account banned as well.

(In case anyone is wondering, we're careful to moderate HN less when YC or YC startups are involved, but "less" doesn't mean "not at all", and in cases like this one the moderation principles are quite well-established.)




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