If you live in Central Oregon, odds are you have more than enough outdoor gear to keep you on the river in the summer and on the slopes in winter.
One OSU-Cascades graduate decided to provide an outlet for those looking to make some money with that extra gear, and an affordable option for outdoor-lovers looking to rent.
It’s called Seekqua — an app invented by Michael Boles, who’s lived in Central Oregon since 2017.
“It derives from the Indigenous name for Mt. Jefferson, and that’s Seekseekqua,” Boles explained to Central Oregon Daily News.
It all started back in 2020 when Michael and his friends were brainstorming ideas to capture the Central Oregon tourism rental market.
“Then I was like, well, you could just take it all to its bare bones and have a peer-to-peer model and have software just run it.”
Soon after he graduated from OSU-Cascades with a degree in Business Administration in 2021, he did some traveling in Europe and asked everyone he met about their thoughts on his idea.
“Overall it was like, ‘yeah, why doesn’t this exist? We would all use this platform,'” Boles said. “And and so I could see really quickly that it has a global reach.”
When he returned home, he started working on the Seekqua app full-time, with a soft launch last December.
The concept is fairly simple.
“People are able to log in, create an account and list their gear for rent and they set their own price,” Boles explained. “They set the dates that are available. They set the time in the schedule for people to come and pick it up and drop it off. And right now, we’re developing more of a streamlined platform to have people that are on there as tourists or just looking to buy a piece of equipment.”
To protect users, those renting out their gear list the full price of the item, and if it is not returned or is damaged beyond repair, users will be billed for the full price.
Since its launch, the app has gained nearly 1,000 users in Central Oregon and beyond, with rental items from mountain bikes to camping gear to skis.
With the upcoming addition of a buying option, Boles hopes Seekqua will act as a resource for local rental shops rather than a rival.
“I want to not become competition with local shops in any town, but then instead allow them to have a platform where they can showcase their brand new bikes and surfboards and snowboards and skis for sale,” he said.
The goal is to facilitate not only gear rentals, but human connection.
“Just to have a connection between a tourist and a local, I think that that appeals to people, and I think Central Oregon is a great spot to showcase it and start with because of all the outdoor recreation options that we have here,” Boles said.
He believes the app will encourage younger people to spend more time outside instead of on their screens.
“I found that in my own personal life it’s really important for, you know, mental health and just being productive and work and school,” Boles said. “And so I think this offers a way for younger people who can’t necessarily afford to buy brand new pairs of skis or even renting skis from some shops in town.”
His next step is adding options for users to purchase and try out the gear before buying.
Boles is also hiring for a few different roles to take his product to the next step.