Bend duo builds recreation marketplace

Propaloo features rentals of gear, tours and housing

By Rachael Rees / The Bulletin

Published Mar 18, 2014 at 12:01AM

What: Propaloo LLC

What it does: A marketplace/website for rental companies, businesses, private owners, property managers and tour companies to list recreational gear, housing and services for rent

Pictured: Steven Smith, left, and his son, Paul

Where: Bend

Employees: two

Phone: 541-706-1290

Website: http://propaloo.com

Whether it’s a stand-up paddle board sitting in a garage or an empty second home that needs to be rented out, Paul Smith is helping people turn their property into income through his online Bend-based rental company, Propaloo.

The website allows businesses and private owners to list recreational rentals and users to search for items they would like to rent.

The company has 60 members: private owners, rental companies, property managers and tour companies.

“The marketplace works as a communication and booking application for our members listing rentals and tours,” Smith, co-founder and CEO, wrote in an email.

For users, he said, it functions as a search tool to find the rental or tour they want at the desired price and location.

“It’s the concept of all the different travel sites out there, but they’re more focused on rent a car, book a plane,” he said.

Smith and his father, Steven, formed the company in 2011 and started web development in the summer of 2012. The business was inspired by the death of a family member who loved recreating in the great outdoors, he said, with the idea of encouraging people to get outside and take advantage of everything that is out there.

“We saw the growing trend in the ‘collaborative consumption’ industry of bartering, trading, renting, swapping and thought there was an opportunity to build an online marketplace that enabled these groups to list their property for rent and be more easily accessible on a user-friendly platform like propaloo.com,” he wrote in an email. “We also saw a trend growing where younger generations were becoming more comfortable and desiring of renting things for recreational pleasure than to purchase it (or rent prior to purchasing).”

Propaloo launched a beta version of the website in 2013 to test the concept, and in February, the company launched version 2.0, which added additional features and tours to its offerings.

Listings are free until members receive their first lead or inquiry; then prices range from $3 per month to list items, like wet suits and rafts, and up to $18 per month for vacation homes, according to the website. There is also an annual listing option, which ranges from $19 to $199, depending on the item, as well as a pay-per-lead alternative.

“It’s all based on listings, just like Amazon,” he said. “We’re trying to grow the inventory to make the experience better for the user.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7818

rrees@bendbulletin.com