I never thought I would start a business when I met a random guy at Eat ‘n Park one day in the fall of 2012. But I did, all thanks to Craiglist and the Eat ‘n Park Super Burger.
When Digital SLR cameras finally started to fall under the $1000 mark, I pulled the trigger on a Canon Rebel T2i. I had some lenses from my old film days and I was in love – but you can never have too many lenses! So, I’d spend time searching craiglist for people selling lenses locally and came across this odd post from this guy offering rentals. At that point, I had purchased too many lenses myself so the idea of generating some revenue appealed to me. So, I posted my own ad! And sure enough, in February of 2012 I did my first rental job. I met my first customers at a local McDonalds with a basic contract I came up with myself. Looking back, I kind of laugh at myself, but it was a start.
And then I made a pivotal decision: I registered a domain name, and one that turned out to be a home run. I was familiar with companies such as lensrentals.com and borrowlenses.com. My thought? Why not stick with the theme but regionalize it? My goal at the outset was not to compete with the national mail-order companies – I just wanted to be a local company. So, I went with pittsburghlenses.com.
That decision led to two things. 1) The site soared up google’s rankings and was the top hit for searches such as “camera rental in pittsburgh” within a matter of months 2) It got Rick’s attention. Who’s Rick? Rick’s that guy out by the airport whose ad I had seen on craigslist. Rick called me that summer and wanted to talk about joining forces – but my summers are so nuts that I didn’t have time for it. He thought I was blowing him off, but I wasn’t. That fall, once my real job schedule calmed down a bit I called him up.
We met one day at the Eat ‘n Park in Wexford and figured out that we got along really well and had complimentary skill sets. It wasn’t that day, but shortly there after we decided to go all in and form one company.
From our humble beginnings, Pittsburghlenses.com has grown and changed over time. We’ve added new people to our operations, greatly expanded our inventory, and had the chance to work some of the biggest names in the business. We’ve helped local photographers and videographers get their start, come through in a pinch when people have needed things last minute, and gone places and tackled projects neither of us could have imagined on that fall day in 2012.