Peer-to-Peer Commerce Developer Hits 1 Million Cups RTP

by David D. Menzies

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- The most recent session of the popular tech show-and-tell/networking event 1 Million Cups RTP at The Frontier drew a trio of innovators from south of the border: Charleston, S.C.-based dukana, breaking new ground on peer-to-peer commerce. Billing itself as a platform for smartphone users to form social groups to list, buy, sell, and rent goods and services, dukana is positioning itself along the lines of Uber and Airbnb. The company is targeting the 35 percent of America's 117 million households who are renters; more specifically, the 51 percent of those renters under the age of 30. Dukana sees a need for these renters to access tools, supplies, and goods that they do not own for weekend projects or recreation.

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The type of transactions the company envisions are along the lines of someone looking through their garage and finding stuff they might be able to rent to others, like a ladder or leaf blower. Instead of spending a lot of money to buy something brand new, someone using the dukana app would be able to contact the renter, and use a credit card to rent the tool or other asset, saving money and time while reducing waste.

The company makes its money through in-app transactions.

Dukana worked with payment processing company Stripe to create a unique way to process payments for rentals. The app is built using Apache Cordova and AngularJS so it will deploy to every smartphone operating system on the market including Android, iOS, Amazon fire­os, Windows and Blackberry.

Requiring users to connect their Stripe accounts with their credit cards or bank accounts before allowing any renting is the primary way dukana deals with the threat of someone stealing an item. Individuals entering into a rental situation with the app agree upon a predetermined value of an item being rented. If it is damaged or not returned, the renter is charged that amount.

Questions from 1 Million Cups attendees included some about liability and other challenges the company would face as it begins rolling-out the app. According to Founder/CEO Griffin Peddicord, the company is currently beta testing the app with a small group of 30 users while looking to raise $1 million to hire community leaders to on-board people onto the app; developers; and to prepare and launch aggressive marketing.

“We’re looking at hiring a team of lawyers to address all aspect of liability,” Peddicord said, explaining that he expects the uniqueness of dukana to in essence create a new arm of insurance.

As for what pushback there might be similar to what Uber and Airbnb have encountered from businesses and industry organizations, the dukana team is looking to deflect any animosity by welcoming businesses into the mix, such as car rental agencies who would be invited to use the app to expand their reach instead of compete against it.

“The only obvious business we see upsetting is Walmart, and everyone loves doing that,” Co-Founder Bobby Wann said.

Aside from the main pitch of individuals making money on clutter, dukana is targeting closed groups such as churches, youth sports teams, and apartment complexes who see the value in community commerce.

According to CEO Peddicord, the dukana team chose to present in RTP for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was the area’s reputation for being startup-friendly. Future stops on the dukana mini pitching tour include Asheville, Charlotte and New York.

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