Who would have thought that these days, you can travel the world and stay in someone else’s house, work in someone else’s office, and use someone else’s car to get there? This is basically what the Sharing Economy is all about. If there’s one thing that Airbnb and Uber have taught us, it’s this: what’s mine is yours—all for a certain fee.
What is the Sharing Economy?
ThePeopleWhoShare.com defines the Sharing Economy as “a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations.” It further breaks down the components of this kind of new economic system wherein the ten building blocks are People, Production, Values and Systems of Exchange, Distribution, Planet, Power, Shared Law, Communications, Culture, and Future. Basically, in the sharing economy, people trade and exchange their goods and distribute them across the globe. Also known as the “Peer Economy”, this kind of economic system is a type of collaborative consumption where people everywhere can rent out their items that are lying idly by to others who have an immediate use for them, often relying on a review system to build trust and approval ratings from the community.
Who are the top players?
Everyone in the country is familiar with Uber, the transportation service where car owners can rent out their cars and ferry the community around the metro as “everyone’s private driver”. Of course, Airbnb is also one of the pioneers of this new economy. Flashback to the year 2007: It all began in San Francisco when founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia could no longer afford to pay rent. They decided to rent out their loft for some cash. “We didn’t want to post on Craigslist because we felt it was too impersonal,” says Gebbia. “Our entrepreneur instinct said ‘build your own site.’ So we did.”
They started with three renters paying $80 each, and eventually got more inquiries via their website. “At that point we started to brainstorm what a larger, international version of the site would be. That was basically our market research. People told us what they wanted, so we set off to create it for them. Ultimately while solving our own problem, we were solving someone else’s problem too. We were at a point professionally where we were very ready to pursue our own idea. We were anxious though, like waiting in line for a roller coaster. We didn’t know exactly what was ahead, but we knew we were in for a ride,” he shares. The rest, as they say, is history, and Airbnb is now one of the largest accommodation providers in the world. Simply look for where you want to go, and you can connect with various home owners who will rent out their houses to you for a fee.
Speaking of Airbnb, what about an “Airbnb for dogs”? With DogVacay, you can forget about leaving your beloved pets at the kennel whenever you go away. As “the leading online service connecting pet owners with over 20,000 loving sitters across the U.S. and Canada”, DogVacay offers luxurious daycare fun for pet owners around the world. Dog sitters can connect with each other and take care of pets along with full time customer support and daily updates so that pet owners can travel with peace of mind. “DogVacay has paid out millions of dollars to its 11,000 hosts across more than 2,500 cities in the U.S. and Canada,” says DogVacay spokeswoman Corinna Pieloch. “The U.S. pet services market is $11 billion annually and surprisingly there are 78 million dogs in the U.S. – more dogs than there are kids.”
Now, imagine lending your trusty old microwave to someone who really needs it right now. Instead of letting your kitchen appliance sit on your counter gathering dust and growing its own mold culture, you can actually make money off it by renting it out to other people. You can do just that with SnapGoods, as well as a myriad of other things with the big players in the Sharing Economy. This online marketplace allows people to share their stuff around the neighborhood. It all began when co-founder Ron Williams wanted to take a motorcycle ride with his girlfriend one day but didn’t own a motorcycle. When he eventually found one he could rent, he had a difficult time doing so. “I had to take $2,000 cash out of the bank for a deposit, plus I didn’t know the guy. It led to an ‘aha!’ moment: What if the entire scope of consumer options was available not just to buy or sell but to grab as I needed it?” recalls Williams. Hence, together with co-founder John Goodwin, they launched the site. “It’s not really just about demand; it’s about demand and also giving people the ability to assist. Even if I don’t have what this person is looking for, I know somebody who does,” says Williams.
Fon is another innovative company that provides a “global WiFi network” for users no matter where they are in the world. No more fumbling around for WiFi when you’re in remote places abroad—members of the Fon community can share their bandwidths with each other to provide WiFi signals and connect with each other’s hotspots. The company Pley, on the other hand, rents out Lego sets to kids. The “Netflix for Legos” company sterilizes each set, of course, and this allows children everywhere to get access to the classic plastic bricks for a cheaper price than if they were to buy their own sets.
TaskRabbit is an online workplace where people can outsource tasks to their neighbors. In this platform, contractors can bid on jobs (much like UpWork, another online workplace where freelancers can connect). TaskRabbit helps neighbors help each other out with tasks like raking yards and building shelving units. It certainly makes doing chores around the house easier, doesn’t it?
To be continued.
Cathy Dellosa Lo is a freelance writer by day and a geek by night. She constantly struggles between sniffing the novels lined up in her bookshelf and trying to whip up something unusual in the kitchen, much to the dismay of her loving husband. To this day, she still has not cooked a decent meal. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero for her future children, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. She also maintains a personal blog on her rookie misadventures as a noob wife at http://quirkylifeofthenoobwife.blogspot.com/