Meet the Founder: Adam Wise

Meet the founder and CEO of GeerGarage, Adam Wise, as he shares how the community based gear sharing company has evolved from a booth at Fremont Sunday Market to partnering with retailers and nonprofits nationwide.

Hey folks! Adam Wise here 🙋🏻‍♂️ Founder and CEO of GeerGarage. GeerGarage has been my obsession for the last several years and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my journey starting this company. Join me as I delve into the initial inspiration behind GeerGarage and discuss how we’ve evolved over the years.

Adam Wise Mount Baker

My love of adventure - and outdoor gear

Back in the summer of 2019. I was living in Seattle, Washington working part time for Microsoft and spending over half of my weeks outside as you do in the PNW. Car camping, backpacking, mountain biking, paddle boarding - you name it! The outdoors has always been one of the best places for me to go and escape the stresses of everyday life and I was leveraging the amazing environments around Seattle to do just that.

I love gear and as a result, I make sure I always have the equipment that I need. A lot of my discretionary spending goes towards buying this equipment. Back then I had ample time to spend outdoors due to my part time job. I was using my gear more than most duly employed individuals ever would. 

But even so - most of it was still sitting around the majority of days. This was thousands of dollars worth of equipment and it seemed like a huge waste to me.  Especially when many don’t have the discretionary income to spend on a gear closet.  

The core question that started it all: How can I empower others in the Seattle community to get outside with my gear and other’s gear?

GeerGarage is born at the Fremont Sunday Market

In order to test out this new idea of sharing gear within the community I opened up a booth at the Fremont Sunday Market in the Fall of 2019 and rented out my own equipment. At that time I had a lending community of 1 - me, myself, and my gear. The original concept was to store equipment for people and rent it out to others in the community when it wasn’t in use. 

Fremont Farmers Market 2019

I quickly learned that storing equipment was less appealing to people but renting and lending their equipment to others was hugely exciting and interesting. Many people share a familiar guilt about all of the gear they have sitting around. Lending gear out to others provides a great way to put it to work helping others while making some money in the process. Operating a farmer’s market booth is hard work and I also quickly realized that if I wanted to grow economically I needed a new approach to empowering people to share than operating a brick and mortar location. is Born and a VERY Long Road Ahead

I decided to build the website in March of 2020 in order to have a more economical business model compared to brick and mortar. As COVID was just beginning to pick up steam I went all in on coding the website. After 5 months of grinding on nights and weekends (working almost every second of the day that I could outside of my Microsoft work hours) I launched the first version of the website in August 2020. 

The website got some early rentals. But I also quickly realized that the tech stack to really execute on my sharing economy vision was massive - too large for me to build on my own. As such, I decided to go back to work full time at Microsoft in the fall of 2020. This allowed me to hire an additional developer to better build the website based on my learnings from those early customers.

For the next three years I worked two jobs; I spent my days working at Microsoft and nights and weekends building GeerGarage.

Backpacking Marmot Pass in Washington State

Adjusting GeerGarage’s sharing economy so that everyone wins

What I thought would be a year working double time turned into three as I delved even deeper into the complicated world of making peer-to-peer rental a seamless experience for both renters and lenders. Each insight we made led to additional software that was needed to make the rental experience better able to meet customer needs and more scalable. I stayed working at Microsoft until I felt confident that the experience we had built at GeerGarage was ready to scale up for the first time. That moment finally came in September 2023 and I made the jump to go all in. Growing GeerGarage to its full potential finally required my full attention.

Leaping to go all in on a business is incredibly stressful and scary. After a few weeks of soul searching and reconciling with the decision I’d just made I began to realize that the sharing economy we had built was leaving out a key stakeholder - the retailer. When all is said and done, people need to buy things before they can lend them out. Rental is also oftentimes a precursor to buying something. I have come to believe that the sharing that occurs within our community must coexist alongside retailers and also directly benefit them. Only then can the sharing economy we are looking to create truly be a win-win for all.

I’m super excited to begin to incorporate retailers and other organizations into our marketplace as partners moving forward. We have several big ones that we will be announcing in the coming weeks so stay tuned! With their help I believe we can begin to change humanity's consumption habits for the better and make rental more mainstream. Thanks to all of you for your support along the way and I look forward to what the future holds for all of us!