I had a call earlier today with someone who told me that the sharing economy was not sharing because we charge people for things.
Now, this article is just an idea, but it's an idea worth sharing -- I'll let you determine whether or not it's worth spreading.
The more value we can extract from a single asset, the more sustainable our society will be.
This idea that the sharing economy is about me trading something with another person in exchange for cash is not the magic of the sharing economy.
The magic of the sharing economy is not that I share something with you, it's that something shares multiple uses and different value to different people. We have to shift our focus from what we share to how the object, tool or resources share multiple purposes. In other words, it isn't the object that gets shared; it is the object that is sharing its purpose.
Let's take Uber for example. Although I'm sharing my car with you, the remarkable thing about Uber's business model is that the cars are sharing multiple uses. We used to have delivery drivers AND taxi drivers -- now we just have Uber drivers. Do you get it? The magic of the sharing economy is less about the single utility of a platform or asset, but finding multiple use cases.
Since Uber is now a Unicorn, let's look at how five different startups are helping us to maximize space and items through shared uses. And, since I'm from Toronto lets focus on what's going on in my back yard.
1. Your Home is Also A Set
500Startups invested in SetScouter for good reason. The brainchild of production people Alex and Lidia, Set Scouter, allows you to rent out your home as a set. While it seems as if it is about you renting your space to me for money it is the fact that your space doubles as a set. It is an entirely different asset to the person that lives there than the person who shoots there. The magic is that what's worth $1,500 a month to one person can be worth $1,500 a day to another. Ultimately, what the sharing economy ensures is that we maximize the utility of the assets we have through technology.
2. Your Garbage is Someone's Dinner
Well, maybe not YOUR garbage. Flashfood is a startup that helps grocery chains get rid of soon to expire produce quickly and efficiently. This business has several bottom lines in the sense that not only do they make money, but they also help the environment and increase access to healthy food for lower income individuals and family. What was about to end up in a landfill by being on the brink of expiring ends up in the mouth of someone who needs food immediately.
3. Your Junk is Someone's Treasure
Bunz Trading Zone is one of the biggest Facebook groups in Canada. Between multiple Facebook groups, they help Torontonians find what they need. Some of the things you might find include clothing, food, jobs and lots of tokens.
The way the trading zone works is simple. You have something you don't need -- let's say you baked too many brownies, and I have something I don't want, let's say a sled in the summer. But you can use that sled for an art project. You post that ISO a sled (In Search Of a sled) and that you are willing to offer brownies in exchange. I haven't eaten yet today, and they look really good. We each get what we need from something we would have thrown out, and the world continues to turn.
The level of community that has developed between the online and offline components of Bunz aren't so dissimilar to Pokemon Go. Only instead of Pikachu, I picked up a pair of shoes. Hmm... That makes me wonder if people are trading Pokemon in Bunz right now? Totally a possibility, it just depends on how many tokens you have.
4. Your Parking Spot is Anyone's Parking Spot
Looking for a place to park can be a big pain in Toronto. Just yesterday the CEO of Flashfoods was towed on West Queen West for parking there during rush hour. Rover is solving that problem by making it easy to access under-utilized driveways as a place to stash your car. I may not have my license yet (yes I'm 28) but I understand how much of a pain parking in urban areas can be. At the same time, the daytime is usually when other people who still drive themselves places (can you tell I have no intention to drive a car) aren't using their driveways.
5. Your Restaurant is Also an Office Space
Where do you work from? Well if you are a freelancer, remote worker, and general purpose creative like me you've probably spent a lot of time at coffee shops terrified about going to the bathroom and feeling obliged to spend $15 not to feel like a squatter. RNDMWRK (Random Work) was an evolution of something I was working on where the name Random made a lot more sense (Random Dinners).
RNDMWRK is building a community of people who work from under-utilized spaces. The spaces are unique bars and restaurants across the city when they are closed. In addition to providing a place to work we also use those same spaces for community driven events that members can volunteer to host. In a lot of ways, we are taking one asset with one use and adding two additional use cases for space -- events and workspace. We have some friends with similar ideas south of the border, Spacious, who recently had a viral article in Business Insider.
Think what these companies are doing is cool? Well sharing is caring and everyone wins.
This blog has been updated.
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