November 17, 2020 By Ethan Perez
The startup uses technology and makes everyday life easier by enabling the sharing of everyday items. With the advent of the sharing economy, people all around the world participate in some form of this practice, either to make money on an owned asset or as an alternative to ownership altogether. From bike-sharing and ride-sharing companies, to companies that empower homeowners to rent rooms, swimming pools or driveways, there’s something to rent or share for everyone. Wayfinder startup Brevvie – a combination of briefly rent everything – challenges the idea of ownership even further to enable its users to rent everyday items from their network of smart lockers. CONSUMPTION CONUNDRUM It’s safe to say that many are guilty of purchasing something that will only be used once. That item might sit in a closet or garage, be donated or eventually thrown out with the trash. That egregious level of overconsumption does not sit well with many, including Kristine Everly, co-founder of Brevvie. Everly, a marketing professional in the corporate real estate industry, was acutely aware of the needs and habits of people who lived in apartments and multifamily housing communities, but it was an experience at a warehouse club that was a major turning point. “I watched a young couple return an air mattress that they had clearly just used,” said Everly. “And as irritating as it was watching that wasteful consumer behavior, I realized that this couple – like many people – don’t have any other options if they cannot afford to own something they need for a short time. They cannot do it any other way but purchase it, use it and return it for a refund.” Everly then reached out to friend and co-worker Tim Murphy to get his take on whether or not they should pursue the idea and received advice that every entrepreneur should heed. “We should do it now,” said Murphy, co-founder of Brevvie, “because in two years you’re going to kick yourself if you didn’t start.” And in October of 2017, Everly and Murphy started Brevvie and began walking through neighborhoods and talking with residents, as well as sending out surveys, to understand what people owned and to determine their buying habits. “For example: not everyone in a neighborhood needs to own a ladder or tools when you can just go to a shared area and rent what you need for as long as you need it,” said Everly. “That’s really the premise behind Brevvie.” Within a few months, the two had a prototype and had joined the Wayfinder program at UCI Beall Applied Innovation. While at the Cove @ UCI, Applied Innovation’s headquarters, Everly and Murphy have utilized the Small Business Development Center @ UCI Beall Applied Innovation, made important network connections and found guidance and support through Innovation Advisors. BRIEFLY RENT EVERYTHING Brevvie’s core technology is their software platform, which allows people to rent and return common goods. With their free app, users can see which items are available in real time in one of their smart lockers and immediately rent an item by the hour or by the day, depending on the item, for only a few dollars. Users can rent everything they need for a beach day, game night or an afternoon of chores without having to own or store anything themselves. After the rental period is over, they simply place the item back into the smart locker. Brevvie then makes sure the items are clean and ready for the next user. Items include name-brand coolers and vacuums, ladders, tool kits, karaoke machines, tents, beach chairs, board games and more.
Currently, Brevvie’s smart lockers are only located in select multifamily housing communities in Los Angeles and Seattle, where tenants get exclusive access. The startup has seen so much success that housing communities list Brevvie as an amenity to draw in new tenants, just as they would list pool access and an on-site gym. Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Murphy, with about 30 percent of tenants at every community outfitted with a smart locker continuing to use the service, and rentals happening 24/7. “We are changing consumer behavior and we’re introducing a new way to consume, which will be second nature to everyone in the next five years,” said Murphy. Savvy consumers understand Brevvie’s value proposition and have been quick to adopt this new behavior, including taking advantage of the app’s latest features, an unlimited access membership for $9.99 a month and a reservation feature that allows users to ensure their desired item is ready when they need it. “A large part of this whole journey is ‘how do we leave this place better than we found it’,” said Everly. “So, our company’s success is just as important as being environmentally conscious and doing our part to reduce overconsumption.” THE CROSS-HUSTLE Longtime workers in the corporate real estate industry, both Everly and Murphy believe strongly in their simultaneous pursuit of their corporate careers as well as their entrepreneurial endeavor. Additionally, they stress the many benefits of not choosing one over the other. “We financially support our families, so for us not to have a job just doesn’t make sense,” said Everly. “Not only would we have to give up our startup, but we would also miss out on opportunities to leverage connections made through our corporate jobs that will take Brevvie to the next level.” Everly and Murphy fully expect Brevvie to eventually become their sole focus, but until then, they plan to continue to allow each endeavor to complement the other. “Not only do we have a side hustle that benefits from the networks, resources and knowledge from our day jobs, but there is also a cross-hustle benefit to our day jobs,” said Murphy. “I didn’t know how to pitch before we went through the Wayfinder program, and that pitching format has changed the way that I conduct business internally at my day job and I’ve been far more successful. These are all things that would not have happened if we quit our day jobs.” Brevvie co-founders Tim Murphy and Kristine Everly pose near one of their smart lockers with items available to rent.
BUILDING ON BREVVIE While Brevvie currently operates in multifamily communities for sole use by tenants, the startup plans to roll out more smart lockers to larger housing communities and student housing, as well as to public locations, like recreation centers and grocery stores. From there, Everly and Murphy are planning to make deliberate moves for a larger national and international rollout. In addition to their smart locker locations, Brevvie is also focused on building an affiliate network based on their platform. This option can provide a contact-less rental experience and bridge the gap between a mobile shopping experience and getting an item immediately. “The affiliate and franchise models are extremely important to us,” said Murphy. “If you’re in the business of renting tools, music equipment or camera equipment, we can automate those businesses right now. All that’s needed is to sign up for our software platform and use compatible hardware. It’s that simple.” Until there is a smart locker in your neighborhood, Brevvie has some advice: consume smarter by investing in life, not things. Learn more about Brevvie. Photos & Illustration: Julie Kennedy, UCI Beall Applied Innovation