This week saw the “Share: Catalyzing on the sharing economy” conference being held in San Francisco. It strikes me as appropriate that San Francisco should host the conference as this city seems to have produced more than its fair share of share-economy businesses. Ride-sharing companies Lyft, Uber and Ridejoy are all San Francisco-based companies, as is the somewhat controversial AirBnB, the short-term accommodation rental company.
It isn’t just limited to private companies, however. The Bay Area Bike Share is a partnership of local government agencies, including Caltrain and the San Francisco Municipal Transport agency who have supplied 700 bikes across the region to maintain a bike-sharing system that makes getting around the area easier, and a little more fun.
The San Francisco conference came hot on the heels of the charmingly titled “Oui Share Fest” held in Paris, France the week prior. The Oui Share “think and do-tank” launched in Paris in January of 2012, and in two short years now spans 25 countries and over 2000 members and contributors. It’s clear the idea of the sharing economy is one which resonates deeply with many.
In the framework of both sustainability and diversity, the sharing economy makes perfect sense. At its simplest, it’s about creating a community in which we do more with – and make better use of – what we already have, which is why the sharing economy also identifies as ‘collaborative consumption.’ While the core principle is really nothing new, we now have the technology in place for the sharing economy to truly gain global momentum. The ease with which online communities can be created around specific services also allows for peer-to-peer reviews, increasing trust and reputation – both essential to building a solid sharing economy.
With all this in mind, here are 3 interesting sharing sites that are hoping to be the sharing economy’s next big thing:
Leftover Swap is one of a number of food-sharing sites that are beginning to crop up. Leftover Swap is an app that serves both people looking for food, and those looking to give theirs away. Users can log in and see what food is available in their area, or take a photo of their leftovers and post it to the site for pick up. The people behind Leftover Swap say it’s a great way to reduce waste, help people out and build a better sense of community. It might not be for everyone, but with an estimated 40% of food wasted in the US each year, it’s certainly an interesting new approach to reducing that figure.
Snapgoods started off with the very simple idea of lending out high-end household goods on a peer-to-peer basis, and pretty much sums up the whole ethos of the sharing economy with the tagline “own less, do more.” Interestingly, it will shortly re-launch as ‘Simplist’ which looks to be more of a smart-networking tool, again underpinning the value of building a strong community as the basis of a sharing economy.
Pley is “the largest LEGO library in the world.” It’s a mail-order subscription service in which members pay differing monthly fees and create ‘playlists’ (similar to a Netflix queue) chosen from hundreds of LEGO sets. Each set is washed and sanitized before it is sent back out to a new customer, and there is no charge for the inevitable missing pieces. What a smart way of giving families access to educational, non-online toys in a low-cost, sustainable way.
If you have any insights into your experiences of the sharing economy, as ever I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to get in touch!