Being a photographer is expensive. Becoming a photographer is expensive as well as confusing and overwhelming. Seasoned shooters can attest to this: every time you meet someone who is deciding to buy a camera or start taking pictures, their immediate question is “what camera should I get?” This is the constant, ubiquitous, impossible-to-answer question that is basically always going to result in dissatisfaction. Why? Your camera choice is too expensive, too complicated, too niche, not sexy enough, too cheap, not complicated enough, not niche enough, too sexy, the list goes on. There is honestly nearly no way to help a budding photographer figure out what camera is best for them without playing 20 questions. But what if there was a way where anyone could test out and play with any of the latest gear without spending a fortune or getting lost in the hundreds of pages of possibilities on B&H, Amazon or LensRentals? That’s the blank, limitless space Parachut is looking to fill.
Basically, Parachut (pronounced “para-shoot”) is combining ideas from E-Harmony and Netflix by offering unlimited gear rentals for a monthly fee ($99 for the first month, $149 for the duration of your subscription). To get started, you fill out a Parachut Profile and gear wish list. From this, the team at Parachut determines what gear works for you as well as what gear you are actually asking for. Sometimes these two lines intersect, sometimes they don’t. The pool from which the Parachut team can draw is huge pretty much limited to the gear that is available on the market (which isn’t limited at all). They’ll have drones, cameras, lenses, accessories and more, and everything can be curated to fit specific needs.
Users receive targeted educational tools to help them learn how to use the gear. They can keep the gear as long as they want, and send it back with our pre-paid shipping label to try something new. No hassles.
Once you have a profile set up, Parachut sends you your “Chute box” with the gear designed to fit you. If you love it, you can hold on to it for as long as you like. If you want to try something new, send it back and a new Chut Box will be sent to fill the void. Rather than using the conventional model of pay by rented equipment for a specific period of time, Parachut will instead cost you only one low fixed payment per month. According to Parachut, that means no more late fees, no more high cost of rental, and no more hassle. What if you never want to return it? That’s not a problem either, as Parachut will allow you to keep gear for good, and at a discount.
Parachut is jumping full-bore into an idea that has been dabbled in by a few, but never executed to this degree. The temptation to go to the more “tried and true” traditional rental market is often too strong to ignore, and companies who try this subscription method either don’t invest enough into the “curation” part, or they don’t have enough gear on hand to fulfill that curation.
In speaking with the Parachut team, they’re confident in being able to fill their warehouse with gear and also keep up with the demands of a growing market. Curation is the toughest part, and making each ‘Cute Drop truly unique to each renter is going to be the most critical lynchpin in this project. The better they can become at this, and the more their user base feels that connection, the higher the chance that Parachut can succeed.
For now, you can reserve your spot in the coming launch (Parachut is not shipping ‘Cute Drops quite yet), and also enter their contest to win personalized rentals for a year. Once their system is up and running, we will run it through its paces to see just how personalized and different this service feels when compared to the field.