5 Traits of the Sharing Economy Every Startup Should Know
July 06, 2015
It's no big secret that the global economy has shifted dramatically in the past few years. Many refer to this new economy as the Sharing Economy: an economy based on collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer lending that leverages people's underutilized talents, assets, and resources. Disruptive startups like Airbnb and Lyft have led the way and chances are that, if you're using Fiverr or Weleet, you're a part of this new economy.
Are you wondering if your idea, product or company is grounded in the Sharing Economy? If so, use these 5 traits to gauge how you measure up:
Does your idea, product, or company in some way save resources and help create a cleaner, greener environment?
Consumers today are more focused than ever on the long-term effects of short-term gains. If your startup or freelance work somehow creates a more sustainable form of living, you will gain an edge in the Sharing Economy. Beyond aligning with consumer values, creating sustainable products and services is good business, as often sustainability is a source of revenue and growth. Services like Liquid- a site to rent a bike from your neighbor- that preserve resources, minimize waste and/or contribute to a greener planet benefit from this model's profit potential and its resonance with users.
Does your idea, product, or company match underutilized assets with potential users, while also decreasing the transaction costs involved in buying from a third party?
Services like Zipcar or platforms such as Fon, a wireless sharing company with over 15 million hot spots globally, enable users to efficiently share resources. Similarly, platforms like Fiverr use innovative technologies to provide a seamless transfer of assets between members of a global community. Such transactions incentivize talented and aspiring professionals to utilize and develop their skills, in addition to providing small business and startups with access to a wide, diverse and affordable global talent pool.
Does your idea, product, or company benefit both parties of an interaction in a more meaningful way than just saving a buck?
In the Sharing Economy, transactions ideally benefit both parties of an interaction in a meaningful way beyond only financial gain. These benefits can be more difficult to measure, but are critical aspects of the interactions enabled by the Sharing Economy, such as enabling networking or giving an opportunity to share knowledge. For example, AirBnB hosts often provide more than just lodging for guests: they possess insider recommendations for visitors that can't be found in a guidebook, as well as flexibility beyond what a traditional hotel can accommodate. In exchange, AirBnB guests provide reciprocal flexibility, in that they are willing to rent a space for an unusual amount of time, or willing to rent places that are untraditional or don't provide standard hotel amenities. Interactions that leave both parties satisfied beyond just buying or selling a service elevate the transaction in a way that is unique to the Sharing Economy.
Does your idea, product or company allow people to meet, who might otherwise not meet, and feel like they're helping each other?
One of the most notable aspects of the Sharing Economy is that it connects people who otherwise might not have met. In an increasingly digitized world in which technological advances often eliminate the need for human interactions, the community-driven aspect of the Sharing Economy is one of its most powerful facets. Weleet's compatibility matching system for soloprenuers and independent workers is one exciting example of this notion in action. Weleet connects and allows people who would otherwise work from home alone to meet to cowork together on their (individual) projects in the same space based on personality and project needs, multiplying the number of connections that typically happen for the average solopreneur or freelancers in a single day.
Is your idea, product or company self-regulated by community ratings and rankings?
The Sharing Economy would not exist if it weren't for transparency: a system of rankings based on user-generated reviews creates a safe and largely accurate way of determining the value of goods and services. We can choose restaurants or lodgings based off not just one person's recommendation, but based off thousands of recommendations. On DogVacay, for example, dog owners find community members to house their dogs while they are away based on a star review system. Although such extreme transparency sometimes presents challenges to service-providers, user generated reviews creates the trust and regulation necessary for the Sharing Economy to flourish. In fact, it is precisely this building of “trust through transactions" that fuels the Sharing Economy.
How do you think Fiverr, Weleet and other popular platforms claiming to be part of The Sharing Economy really stack up? Let us know @Weleetweet, share this blog, and come cowork with the Weleet community!