Sharing Economy – Access Beyond Ownership

January 21st, 2015

Topics: Apps Customer P2P / Sharing Economy Platforms Value Chain

The first time I heard someone speak about the sharing economy was in 2013. One of our MBA Fellows did his research project on how the underutilization of owned physical goods is one of the many forces shaping the sharing economy. Since that time, I’ve contributed to this new economy by renting a carriage house in Martha’s Vineyard and a cottage on Lake Placid using homeaway.com, a condo in the white mountains using airbnb.com and I’ve also explored alternatives to dog kennels on DogVakay.com. Most of us are familiar with the “sharing” of rides using Lyft or Uber and the fashion options such as Rent the Runway and Poshmark.
In researching the topic for this year’s Tech@Tuck, I’ve come to two conclusions: a lot of good can come from this new approach to ownership and one of the first “sharing” companies is just now, this year, celebrating 15 years in business – so I was behind the times!
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with an executive at Zipcar and the stories I heard were invigorating. When Zipcar first launched, some called this concept “socialism” and exclaimed that no one would want to share a car. Today, the Cambridge, MA founded company has over 700 employees and is subsidiary of Avis Budget Group. (Did you know there are four Zipcars available here on the Dartmouth campus?) Membership rates can be as low as $6/month and this is the company that’s turning 15 this year! Truly, the massive cost of buying a car and the headache of maintenance can be avoided if your lifestyle and driving needs can be met by Zipcar.
But there’s so much more to share!

  • NeighborGoods: Save money and resources by sharing stuff with your friends.
  • SpinLister: Rent bikes, SUPs, Snowboards and Skis “from someone like you!”
  • TaskRabbit: Hire people to do jobs and tasks, from delivery, to handyman to office help.
  • LendingClub: Get cold hard cash. It’s cheaper than credit cards for borrowers and provides better interest rates than savings accounts for investors.
  • FON: Members share a bit of their home WiFi and get free access at millions of hotspots worldwide.

 

I believe “sharing” is green when compared to the old way of purchasing and discarding when you move or grow tired of your items. I believe making money off items you rarely use is just smart business and now tech makes it simple and cheap to execute. I also agree with many people who say that the sharing economy will breed new companies designed to enable even greater numbers of customers to take advantage of peer-to-peer moneymaking opportunities.
Have you partaken in the sharing economy? Please share your success or horror stories with us – we’d love to hear them!

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