It was an idea given almost in "jest" when Mark Gurevich's mom told her son and best friend from middle school that they should consider buying camera equipment to rent out to others as a way to make extra money.
She found a shop she liked to rent from in her hometown and told her son and best friend Max Shevyakov to at least check it out.
They mulled it over, saw that the store Gurevich's mom rented from was always busy and decided to take the plunge.
The two were friends since attending school together in Aurora, Colo. but were living thousands of miles apart when the idea was first posed.
Shevyakov had worked in Silicon Valley at Hewlett-Packard and then another startup as he and Gurevich decided to dive into starting their own business.
"At first, we thought it would be an after-school activity that earned us extra beer and travel money," said Shevyakov, 32, who earned a master's degree in computer science from Columbia University.
So, in 2007, the two bought some camera equipment with their own life savings and started the business in Shevyakov's spare bedroom in San Mateo.
The business started with two Trader Joe's bags filled with camera equipment and plenty of credit card debt.
They set up their website for online rentals and the orders started to come in slowly. Two months later, however, the business turned into a full-time job and the two knew they were on to something good.
They put all the profits back into buying equipment.
The hardest part in the early days, Shevyakov said, was keeping up with the inventory. He also credits his wife for sticking by him while he undertook the new venture and ran up the charges on the credit card. In the beginning, the two childhood friends filled all the orders, handled the shipping, cleaned the equipment and fine-tuned the company's website.
"The demand was clearly there," he said.
They opened a small shop in San Mateo then moved to a space on Industrial Road in San Carlos where the company is currently headquartered. They have since significantly expanded their San Carlos headquarters and have just opened a new warehouse in the Boston area, where Gurevich now lives and works.
The two bags of original camera equipment has now turned into a thriving business with 60 employees operating on two coasts.
Its customers are those who want to try out new equipment before they buy it, hobbyists, nature lovers and travelers.
Its newest customers, however, include corporate clients such as Al Jazeera, Showtime, the BBC, Facebook, Google, Adobe and many other high-tech companies in the area.
Borrowlenses.com now rents audio and video equipment, which is its fastest-growing sector, Shevyakov said. Equipment can also be picked up at several locations in the Bay Area or be shipped directly.
Shevyakov even hired his father to be the company's accountant.
"It's good to have someone you trust handle the money," he said.
To learn more go to: www.borrowlenses.com
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106