Monday, September 26, 2016

Anyone think there's a market for renting lab equipment?

Also in this week's C&EN, an interesting little article by Marc Reisch about a new intermediary for lab equipment rental? 
Up and running for a year and a half, the firm acts as an intermediary between potential renters and instrument suppliers. Robin Salter, Kwipped’s chief marketing officer, calls his firm an “Uber for the equipment space,” referring to the phone app that hooks up drivers with customers who need a ride. 
Like Uber, Kwipped connects manufacturers and refurbishers with prospective renters of electronics testing, environmental testing, medical, and even heavy construction equipment. Kwipped’s staff directs inquiries to potential suppliers, who submit bids that are then passed back to renters. 
Although Kwipped can make rental arrangements for a variety of equipment, laboratory equipment has been the firm’s most active category, Salter says. The bulk of inquiries, many about renting for less than a year, come from contract and clinical research organizations in the pharmaceutical industry, he says. 
...Wallis Blumm, project management vice president at Innovis, a clinical development consulting firm, says that was the reason she helped arrange a freezer rental through Kwipped. Her client, the operator of a clinical research site, didn’t want to invest in a freezer needed for just one short-term project, but the study sponsors would pay for the rental, she says. 
“Most of the sites we work with have all the equipment required for a clinical study,” Blumm says. “In this case, one site was missing a freezer.” Kwipped, she says, saved her the trouble of calling a variety of suppliers for quotes because it acted as a clearinghouse...
This is an interesting idea, but my problem with Kwipped's business model is that it still relies on refurbishers, who have a terrible track record on the Dovebids and LabX's of the world. Selling as-is used equipment with nonexistent customer service seems to be standard; I guess the fact that one would be renting, rather than buying, would be the upside.

I'm probably too down on this. 


  1. We have rented analytical equipment from vendors as a means to evaluate its usefulness over a longer time span than is possible with something like a one-day site visit. Depending on the vendor, we've rented for anywhere from one month to one year. No experience w/ renting from the secondary market like this.

  2. I think refurbishing plus providing service contracts would be a better business model tbh.

    1. Whether or not Kwipped provides the best possible solution, they've demonstrated that there is demand for this kind of service. Bring a better business model and you should be able to corner the market.

    2. Agreed. At my university, any purchases over $10k have to be open for bidding and anything over $2k goes to a central purchasing authority, so it's almost impossible to get used equipment. A reputable pre-owned equipment supplier willing to compromise on terms and conditions and provide a reasonable guarantee of quality would be very welcome.

    3. I think Phil has a really fair point, re: Kwipped.

    4. Yeah I'm more impressed after reading the article closely; seems to focus on financing as well.

      All they need now is an app and they're the Uber of lab equipment. Or at least they could find venture cap quickly.

  3. Maybe there should be a company that rents CEOs:
    Also maybe now can outsources/replace Execs rather than R&D to boost stock prices

  4. "Selling as-is used equipment with nonexistent customer service seems to be standard..."

    It is for Dovebid, but we've had much better luck with refurbishers. The warranties tend to be short (1-3 months), but I think everything we've bought has worked.

  5. i really like this idea, but at the company i work for, getting a vendor qualified to provide services or equipment can be a nightmare. i am not sure how the approvers would deal with this.

  6. Thanks for starting a great discussion, Chemjobber! My name is Charlie and I am on the Business Development team at KWIPPED. I would like to join the conversation to provide some additional insight into the company and get additional feedback from you folks.

    Your experience and intuition is in line with what we see from many suppliers on KWIPPED. Most of them do maintain refurbished equipment fleets. The big difference in working with these companies through KWIPPED versus other sales focused websites lies in the nature of the rental transaction. The rental agreement is between the supplier and renter, therefore it is in the best interest of the supplier to rent quality equipment and do whatever is necessary to keep the renter’s operation up and running. If the equipment goes down the supplier can provide technical support over the phone, send out a technician, or send out a replacement unit for the remainder of the rental. The rental term can then be credited on the back end to account for any down time.

    Renters are not limited to the equipment listings on the site; they have the option to request a quote from the suppliers. In the quote request, they can specify that only new equipment will be considered. While this may limit the quantity of quotes the renter receives, there are a number of suppliers that are distributors of new equipment. Historically, these suppliers have provided quotes for rental requests that meet their minimum rental term. This minimum term is typically in the 6-12 month range.

    For KWIPPED to become an approved vendor with your company, I can personally work with your folks through the process. We handle the billing for the term of the rental, so the accountants typically want to chat with us. As for approval with the quality assurance folks, your company can request documentation (calibration certificates, etc) to come along with each rental.

    We currently do not have a category for CEO rentals but if the market dictates it, we’ll see what we can do. ;)

    Please feel free to provide us with any additional feedback, questions or concerns.

    Thanks again for your insight.

    -Charlie Dickinson