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Real Business : 2013 Issue 1
Australia has an estimated 50 related inter- net sites where you – normally the abused consumer – can transform into an empowered supplier. Do you have a spare room in your house? rent it out to a visiting traveller. not using your parking space? Charge a fee for another person to use it. Your car sits idle most of the week? hire it out to commuters. You’re driving to melbourne next week? why not act as a courier? On the demand side, it’s for those who don’t want to buy a car, but need one occasionally or for people who’d like to grow their own vege- tables, but don’t have a garden. If you need a bouncy castle for your five year old’s birthday party, why buy or rent one at an inflated price when you can hire it cheaply from a friendly neighbourhood co-consumer? Sharing communities Australian sites are commonly adaptations of successful international ideas. There is Pozible (a crowdfunding platform modelled on kick- starter), Airtasker (a task and errand network based on taskrabbit), and drivemycarrentals (car sharing similar to relayrides, see more on previous page). A unique Australian example is stagebitz, which provides users with stage props and scenery. One of the best-known local operators is Open shed, which aims to match people’s unused tools and belongings to others in need. It has close to 1000 members Australia-wide, who share anything from clown suits to slide projectors. The challenge, says co-founder Lisa Fox, is to achieve “hyper-localism”. If someone has a drill on offer in Victoria, it is not much use to someone in Queensland, so the site needs close-knit communities to work. Fox says she hopes to build on ready-made com- munities such as schools or local councils, but there is some way to go. Among the sites worldwide, those dealing in non-product assets are proving more effective. People offering money, skills, space and time can match these things without location con- siderations. however, some product-sharing sites have prospered. Platforms such as rent the runway and Bag Borrow or steal give users access to designer clothes and accessories with- out having to shell out thousands or dollars. maternity rentals are also gaining in popu- larity in the Us and Getable, a rental platform, is now being described as the Amazon of the rentals market. A possible poster child for the movement is Airbnb, which matches holiday homes and spare rooms with global travellers. It now shares out millions of rooms globally each year. Last year it raised Us$112 million in venture capital investment. the trust factor many say the movement’s weakest link is its inability to build in trust or creditworthiness. People won’t rent a car to a stranger or hire out a pre- cious belonging that might not be returned. Botsman counters this by saying people are beginning to use their own social media to identify and verify each other. Your profile on Facebook, twitter and eBay is not just a resume, but your passport to proficiency and trust. As the sites mature and critical mass is achieved, members accumulate repu- tation, a more valuable currency than solvency or credit ratings. People are even lending each other money with no banks involved. In the Uk Zopa is the most reputable social lending site, announcing itself as the place where “lenders get lovely returns, borrowers get low-cost loans and money becomes human again”. The default rate on people-to-people loans at Zopa is reportedly just 0.7 per cent. so far it has lent out £110 million. In Australia the idea is just beginning – there are igrin.com.au and lendinghub.com.au. Open shed’s Lisa Fox recognises there are still far more bystand- ers than participants. to succeed, the movement needs to build trust and critical mass, but to change the world we live in will take nothing less than a complete reversal in consumer behaviour. 30 Real Business iSSUe 1, 2013 big idea goCatCH is an australia-wide smartphone app that connects taxi drivers directly with passengers. through the free app, the driver takes bookings while the passenger can see the driver approaching in real time using gPS technology. Co-founder andrew Campbell says passengers and drivers are being “disintermediated” from both the Cabcharge system and the taxi call networks. it now has about 80,000 passengers signed up with job volumes growing at the rate of 20 per cent a month. the app offers an electronic audit trail, doing away with receipts, and awards drivers with points if they are willing to take shorter fares. “earn gold status and we give the driver the longer, more valuable fares,” Campbell says. www.gocatch.com Catch a cab Clothes FindaUniform www.finda uniform.com.au the Clothing exchange www.clothingexchange.com.au Property Space out www.spaceout . com.au land Share www.landshare australia.com.au Freight sharing loadMax www.loadmax.com.au Peer-to-peer travel airbnb www.airbnb.com Couchsurfing www.couch surfing.org Errand networks Meemeep www.meemeep.com taskbox www.taskbox.com Unique experiences locongo locongo.heroku.com mmMule www.mmmule.com
Issue 3 2012