Henry King spent part of his eighth-grade year at Manhattan Beach Middle School designing a website — and now it’s been launched.
King is an athletic teen.
But the problem with teens, and all children, is that they grow — and outgrow their clothes. For athletes, that also means outgrowing often-expensive equipment. King knows this well, with his family having to buy the next size up in skis and bicycles for him too often over the years.
The constant churn of buying new equipment, though, gave him an idea: Instead of throwing the equipment away and buying new gear, King said, would it be better to give it to someone else who can use it — and then find his next items from someone else who might be in the same boat.
So he coded an sports gear exchange website, called EquipX. It’s not a website for selling and buying, but one for trading.
Doing so, however, proved easier said than done.
A few years ago, King, now 14 years old and a freshman at Mira Costa High School, took online classes with the UCode programming academy for children ages 6 to 11. He enjoyed it so much, he said, that after finishing the progream, he researched other coding courses to participate in during his free time.
He officially started putting the website together from scratch about six months ago.
EquipX is mid-launch, King said, but there are already a handful of items ready to be claimed on there, including dance costumes and a karate uniform. He kicked off the action himself, he said, posting a bike that another user has since gotten.
Users can search for what they need and reserve the item once they find it. Then, the site will link them with the person offering the gear via email so they can coordinate a pickup spot, King said.
The idea is that people are trading locally with their neighbors, King said.
“Everything about site is local,” he said, “because if you’re going to connect with a semi-random person, it’s more trustworthy to make sure they’re in your local community.”
For extra protection, the site doesn’t store personal information, said the young programmer’s father, Edward King. Rather, it only asks users for their names and email addresses and communication happens only between the two parties who are exchanging the goods.
EquipX, according to the website, is for people who enjoy surfing but don’t go out enough to warrant buying a heavy duty wetsuit, families with children who outgrow skis and winter jackets faster than they can buy them, and everyone in between.
“As children grow out of cleats (that were) used for one or two seasons but are in good condition, they’re maybe not good enough to sell but certainly good enough for someone else to use,” Edward King said. “Someone else can get two to three years of use; it reduces waste.”
The site is targeted to cities across the South Bay, including Hermosa Beach, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Torrance, Henry King said. Users can filter items by location in the EquipX marketplace, he added.
The younger King, who is also a track-and-field athlete, has asked PTSAs at Manhattan Beach schools to spread the word about the new site — a way to engage one of his likely audiences.
“If the majority of people are families or people in the same school system, there should be an underlying element of trust,” the elder King said. “There’s no monetary component where (the items are) expected to be top notch,” which puts traders at ease.
The younger King, though, does have plans to monetize the site, he said — and then give his earnings to help people in need.
“Once we scale the site and have more users, I may add Google advertising,” King said, “and use that money to help local underprivileged sports teams who may need gear.”
His father echoed the importance of that.
“Within the South Bay, the privilege is when people grow out of equipment the majority can afford to buy new,” Edward King said. “How amazing would it be to take that (future advertising) money and use it for the families who don’t enjoy those luxuries?”