By external blogger Aart van Veller
The unstoppable rise of the sharing economy
I hope you all agree with me that the transition towards a sustainable economy is a necessary one. The question is: How should we shape this transition? How are we going to change an economy that currently has a "take, make & waste" mentality and runs on fossil fuels towards an economy that runs on sustainable energy and recycles its resources? Fortunately, this necessary transition comes with many opportunities and I will advocate one of them here: the sharing economy.
If we want everyone to participate in this transition of our economy, we need to show that a sustainable economy functions better in all aspects. Let's prove that it improves our quality of life instead of reducing it. If people keep thinking sustainable goods are expensive, there’s something to feel guilty about and small quantities, nothing is going to happen. Proving the opposite however seems to be quite a big challenge.
Fortunately there is an increasing number of innovative entrepreneurs who are using new business models to take on this challenge. The core of these successful business models is sharing. The sharing of products, services and experiences usually facilitated by innovative technology. The focus is on having access, not ownership.
The idea of access instead of possession isn't new. Think about renting cars, DVD's or bicycles. All have by now become mainstream and represent a substantial business sector. What is new is the infinite number of possibilities that the internet provides, and the fact that there now is a whole generation of digital natives (50% of the global population are younger than 27 years old). This is what makes the 'sharing economy' successful. Let me share three great examples of the 'sharing economy' with you:
It's finally possible! Being able to drive a car in the city centre of Amsterdam, without the high costs of owning one or the hassle of parking, and a minimum of CO2 emissions. How does it work? Car2go is really easy: after registering you will receive a card that you can use to unlock any one of the 300 available electric Smart cars in the city. You pay as you go, 0.29 EUR per minute, no monthly fee. The electric Smarts can be traced on the website or by using the App. Online reservation is possible but not mandatory. The best part is: you don't need to return the car to a certain place or time and you can park anywhere for free!
The story behind AirBnB begins with the original and somewhat strange name, which is short for AirBed And Breakfast. In 2007, Founded by 3 friends, who as alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design, knew that a prominent design conference was coming to town, but that all the nearby hotel rooms had been booked solid. Living the 'creativity can solve problems' creed of their alma mater, they decided to offer up their place, along with tasty breakfast and local hospitality, to a few friendly strangers attending the event. Two air mattresses, a thousand dollars, three new friends, and many high fives later, the entrepreneurs realised an opportunity. “Time to scale” one would say, and this is exactly what AirBnB has been doing the past 5 years. They now offer accommodations in 19,000 cities in 192 countries and can successfully report 5 million nights booked on AirBnB.com. The average New Yorker making his/her house or apartment available can earn an average of $20,000 dollar a year. No small feat during this financial crisis!
More than 70% of all American households owns a drilling machine. This means USA residents own 80 million drilling machines. Here's the catch: these machines only operate for an average of 13 minutes in their entire lifecycle. A huge waste of money and resources! This goes for for many other appliances and other resources in an average household. We can do this differently through Neighborgoods - a platform where people can borrow or rent appliances from people in their neighborhood. A big success in the United States and currently also operational in the Netherlands.
Just imagine: A business model that provides access to products, services or experiences without the hassle of having to look after and pay for the ownership of all these things that we only use a fraction of the time. This can only be described as a business model ready for a new unstoppable generation.
Interested in reading more about the 'Sharing economy'? Check out http://collaborativeconsumption.com.