It’s hard being the Uber of everything.
That’s what James Eberhard discovered with his app, Fluid Market, which originally allowed users to rent out everything from ladders to paddleboards to Teslas when it launched in 2016. By the following spring, the app had 10,000 users in the Denver metro area.
Next month, however, the startup will rebrand as Fluid Truck. That reflects the fact that since the start of this year, the app — which is still available only in the Denver market — has allowed users to rent out only trucks and cargo vans.
“It takes away this barrier of entry and allows people to go out and generate a second income,” Eberhard said. “It’s super time-efficient. It doesn’t take a lot of time and you can generate a pretty significant income.”
The reason for the switch? Fluid’s rental items, outside of its vehicles, weren’t making owners much money, according to Eberhard.
“When it comes down to it, you value your time and you value your money,” he said. “If you’re driving a car on Uber and you’re only getting a handful of rides and you don’t make enough money, you pull off the platform.”
For trucks and vans, however, Eberhard said there is sizable demand from florists, caterers, laundry companies and other small business owners who need extra vehicles during peak times.
“We really focused in on how we can provide this need for small businesses,” Eberhard said. “We have florists that are slammed and don’t have enough vehicles in the summertime.”
Most of the vehicles on Fluid are 16-foot or 26-foot box trucks, pickup trucks and Dodge ProMaster cargo vans.
Fluid has 200 people in the Denver metro area renting out trucks and cargo vans, earning an average of $1,000 per month. Those who list multiple vehicles can vastly exceed that.
“We’ve got users now making over $100,000 a year,” Eberhard said.
Some 20,000 users have rented a vehicle through the app, Eberhard said. Fluid takes a 20 percent cut of what they pay; Eberhard declined to disclose whether the company is profitable.
Fluid employs 11 people in Denver. The startup recently moved from a 2,900-square-foot office in Five Points to Industry in RiNo. Fluid also has a lot off I-25 and 38th Avenue where it preps vehicles.
“We’re getting ready to roll out outside of Colorado here early next year,” Eberhard said, adding that Fluid plans to launch in six other cities by the end of 2019.
Eberhard was previously in a dispute with investors of a company he formerly led. They alleged Eberhard shared that company’s confidential data with Fluid. He said the lawsuit was settled outside of court.