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Events / Startups

‘Tents, tables and linens aren’t sexy.’ GoodShuffle is trying to change that

Founders Erik Dreyer and Andrew Garcia created an online marketplace to search, book and pay for event rental items. “We’re doing exactly what OpenTable did for their industry.”

Andrew Garcia is frustrated. When VCs go to events, he says, they look up — at the people and at the venue. And where the eyes go, the money follows. But what about all those tables and linens or the lighting or even the faux tree decor? Where did all that come from, huh?

Garcia and cofounder Erik Dreyer are the guys behind GoodShuffle — a 14th Street NW-based company that’s trying to bring the events planning industry into the 21st century in a significant way.
Think about it this way. You’re planning a wedding and you need some stuff — a tent, tables, chairs, linens, thematic decor and the like. Where do you go? Well, of course there are a lot of events rental companies. But according to Garcia and Dreyer, very few of these companies have a robust online presence, so you’re probably left calling around, trying to track down the right size tent that’s available on your day and at a good price.
To Garcia and Dreyer, this seems ridiculous. Which is where GoodShuffle comes in — an online marketplace where events rental companies can list their inventory and event organizers (professional or DIY) can browse, select, book and pay for what they need. Professional event organizers are the target users at the rental side of the marketplace, but GoodShuffle is increasingly catering to DIYers with tools that help you decide, for example, what tent you need and a sort of Pinterest-like “inspiration” section.
“We’re doing exactly what OpenTable did for their industry,” Garcia told Technical.ly. That is — centralizing an experience.
This wasn’t always GoodShuffle’s focus. Garcia and Dreyer both went to the University of Texas in Austin, but met in D.C. and became “drinking buddies” (Dreyer’s words) long before there was a company. And then there was the company’s first incarnation — a marketplace for peer-to-peer lending of household stuff within a neighborhood. Then came the pivot to events rentals because, well, people aren’t so used to borrowing stuff from neighbors online and changing human behavior is hard and expensive (preach ?).
Event rentals, in contrast, is an existing market, albeit one that’s not primed for the internet age. In other words, the perfect niche for a startup like GoodShuffle. And indeed, Garcia and Dreyer say, things are going well with the new model. The duo quit their other jobs in July 2015 and have been full steam ahead on this project since then.
Dreyer told Technical.ly that there’s been significant excitement from both sides of the marketplace — the renters and the suppliers — because a tool like GoodShuffle can save time and boost business. For now GoodShuffle is only available in the DMV area, but he sees a future where they expand (there’s already user interest, he said).
Still, outside of the direct beneficiaries of such a marketplace, it can be easy to feel forgotten or overlooked. “Tents, tables and linens aren’t sexy,” Dreyer said. This, too, is the source of Garcia’s frustration — a sense that the company is poised to grow, waiting for someone to look down.
Think about that at your next event.

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