Renting Experiences

By: Teija Lehmuskoski

Kuinoma (in English “like/as mine”) is an internet platform for Finnish speaking people to rent equipment for different hobbies such as trekking, music and photography from people willing to rent them out and who they don’t necessarily know. The renting price is usually quite low so the renting is almost like borrowing.

The founder of Kuinoma, Markku Jussila, had many hobbies and he was often loaning equipment from his friend, since buying them would have become expensive.  Jussila’s own loaning network grew during 1990’s and he started to think that many people could benefit from a service platform to rent equipment and get to try now things. In 2007 Kuinoma was established. Today it is only in Finnish and there are about 1200 products to rent from individual people.

Kuinoma is not the only people-to-people (p2p) renting platform, there is a number of similar services in many countries. In Finland this is still in awareness of a little group of population.

A renting service, such as Kuinoma, is a system with all what it needs to work, to exist. It needs people who are willing to rent their equipment to strangers and people who have the need to rent this equipment with low prices. These two things demand open culture and open minds from the people, common interest (wish to try new things without paying too much and willingness to put one’s equipment to better use), and the trust between people.  The service needs a platform, where things actually happen and people meet.

Kuinoma is a system but it is also part of bigger system, the society. System’s environment consists of various different aspects. The first thing is natural environment, the natural surrounding and the resources used by the system. This gives the physical boundaries for the system. Social and political environment is the next one and as important as the first one. This consists of the culture and mindsets of people. Political environment is strongly connected to economic environment. This means the economic system the system is operating in. On the whole, system’s environment consists of all the things that have any kind of effect on it and without which the system wouldn’t be the same.

The key thing about Kuinoma and other similar services is the renting and the concept of collaborative consumption it creates. History of societies and owning tell us about the trend that can be seen for example in many European countries: World Wars I and II have been the break point of peaceful living and have demanded all the nation has owned to be used for common good, little personal property was accepted. In many countries times were difficult after the wars: because of all the destruction by the bombings, the national war debt, or because of the continuing as communist states. When a state found its feet again, the common owning was no longer the only way to go, individuals had again the change to decide for themselves and buy things.

After the difficult economic times different nations faced, they started to have economic growth, this lead to the individuals having more wealth and the opportunity to buy things and to own. Owning things, even the ordinary ones like one’s home and bike, became part of people’s identity and as the wealth grew the “stuff” person owned started to become the symbol of one’s income level, and sometimes unfortunately also symbol of one’s social status.

Nowadays in countries like Finland (countries with high standards of living) socially and environmentally aware people with open-mind have started to find now ways of living, including consuming. We have the wish to enjoy our past time and to do the things we like now. Also, since we live quite busy lives and many of us have bought that camera kit or snowboard, we feel that it is good for the equipment to get used because that is what they are designed for. So we might wish to have these equipment to be useful for some else for a while, while we don’t need them. Rental service (such as Kuinoma) is a facilitator of these wishes.

Rental services facilitate the opportunities for people to try new things by offering the choice of significantly less expensive renting. The service creates new social connections between people with similar interests with a way that is sustainable and that gives joy of sharing.

Now, Kuinoma is still quite small, many Finnish people haven’t even heard about it. It seems that there is potential for it to grow and have new users, since for all of us it is not possible to buy all the things we need to experience something or pay the high rents for big rental companies. As Kuinoma (and other similar services) already connect people and have the social aspect of joy of sharing, it seems to be only a matter of time when it expands into more social concept where people also teach each other and share those experiences of trying things, with strangers.