Seekqua: Sharing Gear and Sharing Outdoor Passion | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Seekqua: Sharing Gear and Sharing Outdoor Passion

Michael Boles, an OSU-Cascades graduate, launches outdoor gear rental app to bridge the gap between locals and tourists

Growing up in Salem, Michael Boles wasn't the stereotypical "Bend kid" who was on bikes, skis and kayaks before learning to walk. He got into snowboarding late in high school and wanted to explore his adventurous spirit in college, at Oregon State University-Cascades.

In 2016, his freshman year, Boles and his dorm hallmates created a bartering system. The thrifty outdoor-curious students passed snowboards, kayaks, climbing gear, shoes and bikes across the halls, trading gear to test out the various outdoor sports Bend has to offer. Boles had some snowboards he let people borrow, and in return, he got to try rock climbing, mountain biking and wave surfing at Bend's Whitewater Park—sports he had always wanted to try.

click to enlarge Seekqua: Sharing Gear and Sharing Outdoor Passion
Jose Gomez
OSU-Cascades grad Michael Boles is the founder of Seekqua. Seekqua unites locals and tourists with an online-offline platform that provides affordable and accessible outdoor recreation.

"That's when I got to figure out which sports I was going to pick up as hobbies and be passionate about," Boles said. "And I didn't really realize at the time, my freshman year of college, but that kind of set the groundwork for the vision of this app. It's about giving people access to the outdoors and bringing the price to go outside a lot lower."

Seekqua was born from a brainstorming session with Boles and his OSU-Cascades buddies, in spring 2020, on how to serve the tourist community around the world.

Boles graduated with a degree in business administration that spring, and after hours of planning, troubleshooting and creating, he founded and launched Seekqua in December 2022. The number of people using the app is growing every day.

Here's how it works: Download the app, create an account, enter your location, explore gear to rent or post your gear to make money, offer affordable outdoor accessibility and add to the app's options. The app categorizes gear by sport, including ski, surf, camp, mountain bike, snowboard, electric, kayak, paddle, golf and more.

Locals, tourists, part-timers and everyone in between can download Seekqua to rent and list outdoor gear. Have a kayak lying in your garage? List it and make some money. Visiting town and want to try out some snowshoe trails? Rent out a sweet pair from a local. Looking to enjoy the warm weather and get into mountain biking? Demo a listed bike through Seekqua.

Bend is the app's home city, but the app reaches locations around the globe. As Seekqua grows in Central Oregon, Boles said he's excited to see it expand in other locations.

click to enlarge Seekqua: Sharing Gear and Sharing Outdoor Passion
Jose Gomez
Seekqua unites locals and tourists with an online-offline platform that provides affordable and accessible outdoor recreation.

Just like Poshmark, Mercari and other popular rental apps, there is a small 10% markup on the rental side to pay for app services. If people fail to return or "steal" gear, they will be charged the market value price. This policy ensures protection for renters.

"It's been really tough, but I want to kind of break down this barrier between tourists and locals," Boles said. "I see a lot of gatekeeping. And I understand that there's a time and a place for it, but people can be uncool about it. We're all people and we all want to live our best lives, so I just want to connect people through this."

The app's spring update will include a demo (rental) option and buy option. People can choose to rent out or sell their gear, offering users a way to try gear out before they spend the big bucks. The update is expected to launch at the beginning of April.

Boles sees the app as a connection to human interaction, to people's stories, to uniting tourists and locals, to get outside, to explore.

"Seeing the trends of people's screen times going up, growing up as Generation Z, I've noticed that there needs to be a balance to that," Boles said. "In my personal life, I've found the balance in outdoor recreation. I've seen trends grow in that as well, where I think other people also agree with me. You know, spend a whole day on your laptop or your phone. You need to balance that out and have like a real pure experience outside in nature. And I want to bring more people to have that option, have that accessibility to go outside and do cool things that are going to push them outside of their comfort zone. Show them just how to take risks and find friends and community in that sense."

With his soft launch and quick success, Boles is looking for funding to expand his app, solidify a strong insurance plan and raise capital, he said.

The Seekqua app is available at the App Store and Google Play.

Allie Noland

Allie graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in journalism and public relations. She loves writing articles that have anything to do with the outdoors and culture. When she’s not writing, you can find her skiing, playing volleyball, backpacking, gardening or sitting at a local coffee shop.
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