KitSplit, a community marketplace that allows videographers, filmmakers, and photographers to rent cameras and equipment Airbnb-style, was born out of frustration. While founder Kristina Budelis, a New York City-based videographer, was producing video for The New Yorker, Vogue, The Guardian, and others, she would frequently need to rent gear she didn’t have. That often came with two obstacles.
One was all the time and energy needed to shuttle around New York finding, getting, and returning gear for projects. “Sometimes I would literally spend more time picking up and dropping off gear than on the shoot,” she recalled. The second obstacle was knowing nearby colleagues had gear she could probably use (which would help save time), but no way to find out what they had, if it was available, or if she could rent it. “Why isn’t there a way to find these people in these communities and make my life easier?” she asked herself. Her cofounders, Lisbeth Kaufman and Ken Amarit, had also experienced the pain points around camera rentals firsthand, and the trio decided to make creators’ and videographers’ lives easier by founding KitSplit.
“We found that 90 percent of individuals who work professionally as videographers or filmmakers don’t own everything that they need for every shoot,” Budelis says. “It’s really difficult to have all of the gear that you need for every job.” So KitSplit made it simpler. With tens of thousands of users located in over a dozen cities in the United States, KitSplit has become an invaluable tool for professional videographers everywhere.
Saving time and finding everything in one place
The first major perk of KitSplit is its resolution of the primary challenge Budelis faced: finding rentable gear easily. “There wasn’t a place where you could say, ‘Hey I need this rare lens, who has it?’ You would really have to ask around, or call up different rental houses to find who has what you need,” she says. So KitSplit was designed to provide “one easily searchable place that has all the options.” A simple search on the site for the gear you need and your location pulls up all the options available around you. And those research results won’t just include gear from individuals. “We have dozens of rental houses on the site. The same price that they offer, they also offer on KitSplit,” Budelis says. In other words, even places you used to have to call to check availability are now easily searchable.
Being able to quickly find equipment can also save a lot of time, but KitSplit saves professionals time in other ways, too. “There are a lot of people who in the past might have spent an hour or more each way going to rental houses,” says Budelis. Now, time spent picking up and returning can be cut out with KitSplit’s ability to help you find a rental option near you, and also provide delivery options (for an additional fee) that bring gear to and from videographers. “We partner with a third-party company. If I’m renting from you and I want the gear delivered as I check out on KitSplit, it’s very quick and easy to just select ‘Delivery’ and say, ‘I want this during this window of time.’ You could bring down what previously was four hours to half an hour or even under that. That can create more time for the shoot, make room in your day for another shoot, or just allow you to get home sooner for some well-earned downtime.”
Cutting costs and protecting equipment
Just like Airbnb offers travelers more budget-friendly options for accommodations, KitSplit offers cost-saving opportunities for videographers. “We have individuals, production companies, and studios on KitSplit, and often their prices will be less than rental houses. It’s usually 30 to 50 percent less than traditional options,” Budelis says. But the company also helps earn you money, not just save it, via passive income. “There are so many freelancer and production companies out there who own thousands or tens of thousands worth of gear that just sits around gathering dust a lot of the time,” says Budelis. “We have top users who are making hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a month renting out their gear on KitSplit. That can really help them buy more gear, or perhaps be more picky about the jobs they take and be more empowered to financially only take jobs that they’re excited about.”
The anxiety of lending someone something valuable can be especially heightened for videographers, considering their camera equipment is their livelihood. “Your camera might be the most expensive thing that you own, or up there after your house and car, so handing it off to a friend without having a really clear idea of what will happen can be a little nerve-wracking,” Budelis says. That is especially true without insurance — something videographers have to deal with not just when renting from individuals, but also rental houses, where insurance is often required but not provided. “That’s another painful and sometimes time-consuming process, where you have to call up multiple brokers. We’ve heard some people say it literally took them days to get the appropriate insurance policy,” she says.
That’s why KitSplit has insurance in place and offers it via a simple click at checkout. “KitSplit helps with providing peace of mind because we make sure all gear rentals are insured, we have a contract, and we help if anything goes wrong,” says Budelis.
Connecting with other videographers
“Being a freelance videographer, filmmaker, or photographer is often not an easy journey. It’s highly competitive and there are big barriers to entry,” Budelis says. Using KitSplit can help with that too, by bringing creative people together. “We’ve heard a lot of great stories about someone renting from another filmmaker in the neighborhood and meeting someone new who works in their field,” says Budelis. “Often, collaborations will come out of those meetings, and people will end up hiring people or inviting them to events.”
Kitsplit even hosts events to bring professionals together to mingle and learn. It’s all part of the company’s overall goal — one that all videographers can benefit from. “We feel very passionate about empowering creators and making it easier for them to rent gear and make amazing work — or if they own gear, to rent it out and make an extra revenue stream and make their lives easier in that way.”