Former Manalapan resident Mike Podhorzer wants to make sure that you do everything you want and that you don't do it alone. The Manalapan High School alum has created a website that literally allows you to rent a person to do something for you, or with you.
Podhorzer, a life-long Manalapan resident until 2008, launched his rent-a-friend website, Pal Locale, at the end of November 2011. The completely self-funded site is an online community that people can join for free. Users can indicate whether they want to be “rented” for something for payment or simply choose to rent another user.
"Pals", or people being rented, can either supply services such as tutoring, babysitting, cleaning, etc., offer up their free time and friendship, or provide companionship to go somewhere or do something. For instance, do you feel like going to a ball game, but don’t want to go yourself? Rent a pal to accompany you!
Pals can set their own price by the hour between $10 and $50 an hour in $10 increments, Podhorzer explained. The pal can also stipulate that their fee is negotiable, as the price may be dependent upon the specific request by the renter. Once a renter and a pal connect they will decide when and where they are meeting and then compensation will take place in person.
Renters can post an event on the Pal Locale website requesting to rent a pal. Then, other users can peruse these requests and contact the renter if they are interested and available to be rented for that purpose. Additionally, renters can search the website and then directly contact a pal they want to rent.
Podhorzer, who achieved a Bachelors of Science in Finance from the University of Maryland, came up with the concept of Pal Locale two years ago.
“I had heard about several sites from friends that allow you to literally rent a person or outsource tasks to be completed by other members of the site,” Podhorzer said. “I was also, of course, quite familiar with Craigslist and thought that there had to be a way to marry all these concepts.”
And with that, Pal Locale was born.
“Soon after, the entire collaborative consumption industry seemed to take off, from car sharing, to bike sharing, to social eating companies, which validated to me that this was the space to be in,” Podhorzer said.
Pal Locale is different than other classified sites because it provides accountability to the renters and the pals as information about all users is required, whereas most other classified sites allow users to be anonymous.
The renters can rate the reliability of their pals (and likewise the pal rate the renter) after they meet up. This feedback goes directly on the user’s profile page and it is used to calculate a feedback rating percentage, Podhorzer explained. When searching for someone to rent, users can sort results based on the user ratings so that the highest rated pals appear at top of the page. Comments can also be made about the pals, which also appears on their profile.
While no background checks on the users are performed, Podhorzer said he encourages users to report any issues that occur during the meeting.
Pal Locale’s users are currently in the hundreds and the website services people across the country.
“The goal,” Podhorzer said, “is to create a thriving community that connects people to one another, allows them to make some extra money, and makes it easy to find someone to teach, assist or join them in whatever they request.”