AzTech: LENDIT

AzTech: LENDIT

By Sandy Athniel

Year Founded: May 2016

Technology: SaaS for item rentals

Players: Andrew Adrian, Alexander Weber, &  Karenina “Nika” Zaballa

Headcount: Three full-time employees

In early 2016, U.S. Marine veteran Andrew Adrian wanted to go kayaking. So, he searched the web for kayak rentals and quickly realized how tedious and over-complicated the rental process could be. One website had him go through the entire online application before telling him it had rented out all of its kayaks, while another website stated that rentals had to be made in person or by phone – not online. After this frustrating experience, Adrian decided to come up with a solution and created LENDIT, a millennial-friendly full-service point-of-sale software solution specifically designed for item rental businesses of any sort. LENDIT streamlines all of the various subscriptions, fees, software, and platforms used to run a rental business into one seamless, easy-to-use software for one price. Currently, Adrian is founder and CEO of LENDIT  while pursuing a bachelor’s degree at San Diego State University (SDSU) part-time. We chatted with Adrian about his experience being an Aztec entrepreneur and the strong entrepreneurial foundation he is building for his business during his time at SDSU.  

The Beginning: Adrian spent the first year of LENDIT’s existence planning features, operations, and raising funds. On his own, he was able to raise $85,000 from friends and family with only a PowerPoint and a strong foundation for LENDIT’s projections. In addition to his early funds, Adrian also tapped into his life savings to start LENDIT. He made the difficult decision to leave a prosperous career at one of the world’s largest cybersecurity manufacturers, Fortinet, so that he could focus on his business full time and go back to school to pursue a degree part-time.

Adrian later assembled a team of SDSU alumni and military veterans to help him build the company, including all the company’s software development and design. The team worked together to create a mobile rental application that has since been transformed from a rental marketplace to a full operation software for the item rental industry. And what had initially started out as a peer-to-peer model turned into a business-to-business SaaS rental model.

Andrew Adrian leads a workshop for SDSU marketing students.

Tech Talk: “Think about it as Amazon meets Shopify, for rentals. We provide businesses a way to host an up-to-date website that enables them to do reservations. And they have a full operations POS software that has their item inventory, employee clock-ins and clock-outs, etc…,” Adrian said, adding that LENDIT has also teamed up with companies like Deliv and San Diego-based GoShare. “Now consumers can have everything delivered on-demand.”

He then does a deep techie dive.

“I do all of our UI/UX design, with a lot of help from our previous designer, Becca Viola, and I’m now beginning to learn front-end development,” Adrian said. The current full-time members include software engineer Nika Zaballa, VP/Sr. Engineer Alexander Weber (who is fluent in 12 coding languages), and Adrian. Weber, Zaballa, and previous software engineers have collectively written
about 200,000 lines of code. Regarding languages, the team started with Ionic and Angular, and now uses React Native.

“Right now, Alex and Nika turn our designs into real code and they’ve built a very robust backend,” Adrian said. “It’s hard for people to understand how much our software can do.” Adrian also shared that over the past two years he and SDSU alum Weber both have turned down jobs from multiple large tech companies to pursue entrepreneurship. It is clear that the LENDIT team is all in.

Together, the LENDIT team has written about 200,000 lines of code.

Entrepreneurial Interest: Adrian has always had somewhat of an entrepreneurial interest throughout his life. “When I was a kid, I mowed lawns and worked a lot of jobs. Making my own money has always been very important to me.” he said.  He then went on to join the United States Marine Corps and later enrolled in classes at SDSU. “I’ve always wanted to work for myself and I don’t think I’ll ever do anything else, to be honest,” he said, “I love entrepreneurship and I love business.”

Andrew Adrian founded LENDIT after realizing how difficult it is for consumers to rent items.

Aztec Resources: “For a little while, I was going to school and working on the company on my own, but then I found out about the Zahn Innovation Platform (ZIP) Launchpad. That was a big turning point for us. They gave us 24/7 office space and mentorship,” Adrian said, recalling Cathy Pucher, the Director of ZIP Launchpad, giving him one-on-one mentorship. The ZIP Launchpad played a big role in helping the LENDIT team realize that peer-to-peer rentals weren’t working as effectively as business-to-business rental SaaS would, which is what ultimately led the team to pivot their business model. “I think what LENDIT is now, is going to be much bigger than what we originally thought it could be,” Adrian said. “We owe a lot to ZIP Launchpad. They really helped us out.”

The Lavin Center and Alex DeNoble also supported the LENDIT team by providing them with grants from winning contests. “We’re really grateful for them,” Adrian said.

Meaningful Mentorships: Adrian was connected to many mentors during his time at SDSU. “One of the most important things in entrepreneurship is surrounding yourself with successful, like-minded people. You can get tunnel vision with your ideas and how to move forward, and your mentors will help you get out of that,” he said. “Cathy Pucher has been a big mentor and help for me,” he said. In his time at the ZIP Launchpad, Adrian was paired with mentor and SDSU alum Chris Holbrook, who joined the program as a mentor and adviser. Holbrook has continued mentoring the LENDIT team, even though they have already graduated from the ZIP Launchpad. 

Adrian also gives a lot of credit to his good friend and business mentor Aaron Hasnain, a successful entrepreneur in the biotech space who has been mentoring Adrian since he left the military.

Raising Funds: In addition to the funds raised through the friends and family round and Adrian’s investment of his personal life savings, LENDIT is in search of more funding resources.

“We are raising right now, but we just want to do it the right way,” Adrian said. LENDIT recently passed on a term sheet for a large investment offer; Adrian said the team was grateful, but it wasn’t the right fit. The startup is currently in talks with potential investors, but the team wants to be sure it is a good fit on both ends.

Andrew Adrian films a LENDIT demo.

Lessons Learned: Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, Adrian and his team have learned countless lessons. One of the biggest ones, he said, is “to be careful who you take advice from. In the startup world, you are very vulnerable because you meet all these people who are either successful or wealthy and you think everything they say goes, and you need to be very careful with that.”

The LENDIT team, like other startups, has gone through hardships after taking advice from someone who did not know the business and its consumers as well as the team did. “Just do your research and really validate your decisions, especially when it comes to spending. The best decision is the one you, yourself, feel confident about.” Adrian said. “Don’t feel like you don’t have any tools or resources – there are tons, especially here in San Diego.”

“I don’t think people understand how hard entrepreneurship really is. It’s very difficult to work for yourself by doing what you want to do,” he added.  “There’s a reason a lot of people go get a job with a secured bi-monthly paycheck, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is a lot of young entrepreneurs compare themselves to big companies and expect it to happen right away. It just takes time. The key to entrepreneurship is patience and to keep going. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.”

San Diego Scene: Adrian is optimistic about the local startup scene. “It seems like it’s grown a lot and there are a ton of resources.”

Adrian’s involvement includes speaking at Startup San Diego’s annual Startup Week in 2018, as well as his mentorship to other startups.

Looking Ahead: Currently, LENDIT’s software is in beta testing with five local rental businesses but plans to launch its full public release very soon over the next couple months.
“We joke that it’s just ‘rental software,’ but I truly believe that this can change our society. We’re going to make it so that renting is easier than buying. I’m not saying buying is ever going to go away, but we can dramatically change the status quo,” Adrian said.

He compares LENDIT convenience to that of ridesharing. “I would argue there are a lot of times where people would have rented something, but they didn’t because it’s not an immediate thought and it’s not easy. I’m excited for the next two years where we have now created a system where all these existing rental businesses are now online and you as an individual can have anything you need delivered to you right there. So imagine if you and your friends want to go camping. You will literally build your cart like you would on Amazon – even if the items are from multiple rental shops – have them delivered to your campground, and you’ll be able to split your rental so you can share the price.”

LENDIT is going to enable more experiences for people at an affordable price and be environmentally friendly to lower needless purchases, Adrian explained.

The pivoted business model does not allow individuals to post their own items to rent out, “but here’s the exciting thing – down the road we are going to have a new feature where an individual can go to LENDIT and create their own virtual rental business shop, like Shopify does for aspiring retailers,” Adrian said.

Taco ‘bout a Recommendation: “It’s tough because I live in PB,” Adrian said, but his #TechoTuesday pick goes to Oscars Mexican Seafood in Pacific Beach, with The Taco Stand in La Jolla coming in a close second. “That’s tough, as you know with San Diegans, tacos are like a religion,” he joked.

Hoppy Place: When it comes to his favorite place to grab a beer, you can find Adrian sippin’ on Latitude 33 Blood Orange IPA at Shore Club in PB. “I like going there to look at the ocean and enjoy a drink,” he said.

Keep up with what’s brewing at LENDIT on Facebook, Instagram, & LinkedIn.

Editor’s Note: AzTech is an original Fresh Brewed Tech series on San Diego State University Aztecs (current and alumni) who are blazing a trail in technology and entrepreneurship. These innovative ideas born in the halls of academia are making a great impact on our ecosystem and beyond. Don’t miss these compelling stories of passion, hard work, and problem-solving by the next generation of entrepreneurs. #AzTech

Sandy Athniel

Sandy Athniel

Just a marketing enthusiast who’s stoked about the SD tech scene. Also a proud Aztec alum who can be found eating tacos at Del Sur Mexican Cantina in South Park.

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