Event Rental Systems co-owners Corey Fiala, right, and Rob Weinstein work on software at the company’s offices at Fiala’s Albuquerque West Side home. Kevin Robinson-Avila/Journal
Corey Fiala, one of the two founding brains behind Albuquerque’s star startup, Lavu Inc., is at it again, this time with a new software-as-a-service company that automates all business operations for party rental firms.
Fiala co-founded Lavu with Andy Lim in 2010 and helped build the software that turned that company into an emerging global leader in point-of-sale software for restaurants to conduct business on mobile devices. Both Fiala and Lim remain on Lavu’s board, but they moved onto new entrepreneurial endeavors in 2016, after Washington, D.C.-based Aldrich Capital Partners pumped $15 million into the company and provided new executives to scale it up.
Since then, Fiala has plowed his technical talents into building another local software startup, Event Rental Systems, to offer comprehensive online automation services for companies that rent party and entertainment products like inflatable bounce houses and knockerballs. Fiala is co-owner and chief technology officer at ERS, which he runs out of his home on the West Side with co-owner and President Rob Weinstein.
The company is growing fast, with about 1,200 businesses now subscribing to the service in the U.S. and Canada. Its market potential helped lure another former Lavu-connected executive, Marc Chesley, onto the ERS board of advisers last fall. Chesley, a serial entrepreneur from Arizona, briefly served as Lavu CEO in 2016 after Lim stepped down.
“It’s a super innovative software service that’s on a real growth trajectory,” Chesley said. “They’re addressing a broad market that’s ready to harvest.”
Fiala and Weinstein actually launched ERS in 2008, before Lavu was founded. Weinstein owned a bounce-house rental firm, Funtastic Jumps, and Fiala built an initial software system for him to automate the business.
It worked so well that Weinstein sold Funtastic Jumps and focused instead on building Fiala’s system into a dedicated service for other firms.
“It automates just about every aspect of the rental business that can be automated,” Weinstein said.
That includes 24/7 online reservation services for customers and all administrative operations from scheduling delivery and pick up to billing and accounting.
Jim Edmonds, owner of Bouncey House Rentals in California, said the system automates his delivery of about 200 bounce houses on any given day.
“It brings sanity to the entire process, with mapping software to automatically route and schedule truck deliveries and pick ups,” Edmonds said. “It does everything from start to finish.”
The business grew slowly but steadily after Fiala departed for Lavu. But sales are up sharply now, with a 51 percent jump in business so far this year.
“We tracked an average of 1,000 event bookings daily over the last year among the firms that use our system,” Corey said.
The company, which now employs 14 people, is also launching a new service: ready-made “escape-room” games that ERS-connected businesses can rent to their customers.
Chesley said ERS is already the dominant player in software-as-a-service for party and entertainment rental firms.
“They have yet to even tap the international markets,” Chesley said. “It’s another terrific software success in-the-making for Albuquerque and New Mexico.”