The service launched last year in New York, and now it’s ready to expand, starting with its launch in Washington, D.C., followed by Philadelphia and Boston.
Co-founder Kristina Budelis said KitSplit has been allowing people to sign up in other areas (if you search outside New York and D.C., you’ll still get product listings, but they’ll be preceded by a message saying that the service hasn’t “officially launched yet”). The sign-ups suggested that these three cities “were places we should go,” Budelis said.
“They don’t have as many rental houses, they don’t have as many resources, but people do own equipment, and there are people who are really in need of access to equipment,” she added.
Budelis has worked as a video and multimedia producer herself, both as a freelancer and at The New Yorker. (Her co-founder and CEO Lisbeth Kaufman has some connections to the film world, too — her father is Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Toxic Avenger studio Troma). Budelis said KitSplit was inspired by her own frustrations with existing equipment rental companies.
“There are thousands of little companies across the country that offer equipment,” she said. “They’re great companies and they’re passionate about what they do, but because they have to invest all of their capital in the equipment, it’s hard for them to scale, a lot of them require insurance but don’t offer it, most of them don’t offer delivery.”
So if you need some equipment for your next video shoot, KitSplit allows you to rent it from other professionals (as well as from the existing rental companies). Or, if you’ve got buy an expensive piece of gear and only use it occasionally, you can make money by renting it out the rest of the time. Plus, the company handles delivery and integrates insurance purchase into the rental process.
KitSplit currently has more than 5,000 members, spanning individuals and larger media companies like Conde Nast Entertainment, Hearst and NBC, and its listings include $40 million worth of equipment.
The company is deepening its involvement with Hearst through an investment from HearstLab, an incubator within Hearst focused on female-founded startups. (Other investors include Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video Ventures, Joanne Wilson, JustWorks CEO Isaac Oates, and and Blue Apron CEo Matt Salzberg’s Aspiration Growth.)
“We’re really excited about improving access to equipment, democratizing access to film equipment,” Kaufman said.