Auction sites are such a common feature of the internet as to be almost without news value; shopping sites even more so.
However, three New Zealand developers think they have hit on a relatively original idea with LetsUseIt (www.letsuseit.co.nz), a site for hiring and lending things people aren’t using right at the moment — say a car, a musical instrument, even a temporarily unoccupied house or apartment.
“It’s been done occasionally elsewhere in the world, but not in New Zealand,” says LetsUseIt development manager Nahum Wild. The concept is due for formal launch in the next month or so and is assisted by Wellington incubator CreativeHQ through its Summer of Code programme.
The Summer of Code helps students gain real world experience over their summer break through helping start-ups develop new technologies.
The LetsUseIt site is usable now, but the practical side of the operation still needs some tidying up, Wild says. The troublesome points are more in the social and logistical area than with the technology, he says.Customers will, for instance, probably go to a user’s house to pick up the property; how can users be sure they’re honest and not looking for other belongings and unguarded points of access to the premises?
Another risk, he acknowledges, is that commercial hire firms could see their business being undercut by LetsUseIt’s less formal arrangements and dig up obscure legal conditions to obstruct such transactions.
But the innovators hope that, as with many other trading sites, the professionals will eventually see it as a channel rather than a rival.