Why this Colorado entrepreneur wants complete strangers to borrow his Tesla

by Jess Ryan
October 4, 2016

[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJbpDPWIpto width:600 align:center autoplay:0]

A few weeks ago, two startups converged in an unexpected way to demonstrate the impact of community. The story involves an app, a Tesla and Carpool Karaoke.

For nearly a year, Matt Holmes of marketing consulting startup Handshakin’ Growth Network has interviewed entrepreneurs from Colorado and across the country for his personal branding video series. He’s put more than 100 videos up on YouTube so far, featuring interviews with everyone from GoSpotCheck’s Matt Talbot to Colorado’s former Lt. Governor, Joe Garcia.

But the videos are often filmed in conference rooms, limiting the amount of creativity Holmes could add to the videos. As he was trying to think of ways to spice up the series, Holmes came home to a surprise from his girlfriend, launchPACK’s Beatrice Leung.

Leung told Holmes that, for a few hours the next day, he'd have the chance to drive around Denver in a Tesla Model X rigged with GoPros, interviewing as many entrepreneurs as he could in the style of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.

Leung had orchestrated the surprise with help from a new Denver startup, Fluid Market. Fluid lets users list items they have but aren’t using, giving people in their neighborhood the opportunity to borrow them in exchange for a fee.

Leung had seen the Tesla on the app, requested to borrow it and got to work organizing everything.

But for an app meant to give neighbors access to things like power tools and casserole dishes, how did a Tesla — of all things — end up in the marketplace?

As it turns out, Fluid Market’s co-founder, Jimmy Eberhard, owns the Tesla. He had bought it as a way to test out the business case for listing a high-end item on the platform. He did the math and found that he’d need five transactions on the Tesla every month in order to make his payments.

“And then I’d get to drive an essentially free Tesla the rest of the month,” Eberhard said.

He expected it would take six months to get to a point where he was getting six requests every month, but he ended up meeting those numbers in the first 30 days it had been listed on the app.

On the day Holmes had the car, he didn’t know Eberhard had listed it himself. As he reached out to his network and organized interviews with people like bestselling author Joel Comm and Impact Founder’s Kristin Darga, Holmes also scheduled an interview with Eberhard.

“He’s very impressive,” said Holmes. “He’s done some incredible things with his career. It was the best day ever.”

Eberhard loved the experience, too.

“I think the concept’s genius,” he said. “It was awesome to cruise around and have an informal, cool conversation.”

Even though Holmes took good care of the Tesla, what would happen if someone else were to crash or lose it? Eberhard said Fluid manages insurance, disputes and retribution for its users.

“I know people whose lifetime friendships have been ruined over borrowing something that gets broken or lost,” he said. “But usually, whenever you lend someone else your things, they’ll take better care of it than they do their own stuff.”

Ultimately, the purpose of Fluid is to connect communities and reduce waste.

“We’ve come so far as a society, we have just about everything you need within 1000 feet of your house, but nobody knows where it’s at,” said Eberhard. “So you go out and buy it instead... If we’re really able to accomplish our mission we’ll allow massive reductions in waste, open up business opportunities and put everything you need at your fingertips.”

Eberhard said he was excited the Tesla gave Holmes an opportunity to do something so unique as part of his business. Other business owners have been using Fluid as well, from an engineering company borrowing a drone to a moving company borrowing box trucks. And as the company positions itself as an “Airbnb for stuff,” the people lending items have an opportunity to make a few bucks, too.

Eberhard plans on buying another Tesla soon so he can continue sharing the experience with the Denver community.


Video via Handshakin’ Growth Network.

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