Julian Azofra, four years ago, was a student living on a tight budget in Lancaster when a simple household task revealed a significant problem. Attempting to hang a mirror on his wall, Azofra was faced with the costly reality that purchasing a drill was his only option. The average cost for such a tool is around $150 — a tow to ask for an item he wanted to use for just moments. With this experience fresh in his mind, his entrepreneurial spirit ignited.
The Spaniard homed in on the peculiarity of a world where there was no alternative to buying what we want to use, and his solution was a marketplace in his home country of Spain. This rental marketplace facilitated borrowing rather than buying, but service providers struggled. They were constantly wrestling with risks, fraud, and problematic logistics.
Julian realized an entirely new business model was required to sustain an ecosystem where using and reusing products could become a widespread reality. And so, he took his idea to San Francisco and gave life to Sharpei.
Sharpei is not just another retail-focused start-up. The company takes a unique approach by facilitating retailers, shops, and brands globally to initiate rentals, subscriptions, and second-hand reselling directly from their websites. Sharpei is now attracting attention and securing pre-seed funding of 1.5 million while gaining clients from the US and Europe.
Azofra’s motivation is deeply personal and broadly altruistic, and his company targets a serious chink in the retail sector’s armor. The necessity for innovation in this business realm has been growing steadily, fueled increasingly by consumers’ shifting priorities — from experience preference over ownership to an increasing demand for sustainability-minded brands. However, it’s worth noting that while market changes and competitive/operational pressures are forcing retailers to adapt, excess inventory continues to be a heavy burden for significant players such as Nike, Target, Wal-Mart, and Adidas.
Sharpei’s approach to circular economy models shines a light on an intelligent resolution to these mounting industry issues. It offers a strategic pathway to purposeful innovation and aligns B2B transactions with current, rapidly evolving market trends.
In envisioning the future of the retail sector, Azofra sees a surge in sustainable consumption models. Growing popularity for subscription services, rentals, and pay-per-use schemes will fuel this shift away from traditional shopping habits.
The onset of the subscription economy means consumers will have a wealth of choices at their fingertips without the hassle of ownership. This growing demand for experience-based consumption aligns perfectly with the need for a reduction in wastage and environmental impact.
Simultaneously, rental services offer the advantage of paying only for the magnitude of the product or service’s usage rather than being burdened with product storage, especially considering the constraint of modern living spaces, where customers are unshackled.
Looking ahead, Azofra anticipates a transformative move toward more sustainable consumption choices dominated by subscription, rental, and pay-per-use services. This shift reconciles consumer trends with the collective goal of a more sustainable lifestyle. In his vision, we may soon live in a world where we don’t own things — but the experiences they bring are a testament to the inspirational journey of a student who simply wanted to hang a mirror on his wall.