Ever since our twin to twin blood transfusion where upon birth we had to equally share out all our cells, like a bag of Haribo, sharing has been both a struggle, but also a way of life. Sharing birthdays, sharing friends, sharing chips, the list is endless.
Last week we spoke at the City Women’s conference alongside some top business female powerhouses, Evan Davies, the chief design and digital officer at Barclays, the head of campus at Google and a room full of equally intimidating and inspiring folks.
One of the topics was “sharing culture” and we heard from the queen of the “sharing economy” Debbie Wosscow, the creator of Love Home Swap (basically the real life business from the film The Holiday) and the UK country manager from Air Bnb – the poster child of peer to peer services and now worth over $13 billion. From monetising your spare rooms, trading in your old wardrobe, crowd funding, sharing your motor, there’s money to be made in sharing, no mistake, but is it more than that?
Is our trust in strangers beautiful or insane? This is where the crux lies – for centuries we’ve been swapping our hedge trimmers, chapping on doors asking for baking powder and leaving friends’ houses with armfuls of books like Matilda, but technology has meant that we can divvy up and swap our assets with people we have never even met. The figures suggest we’re trustworthy souls – with the sharing economy now worth over £9bn worldwide and 25 per cent of Brits involved, the industry is growing all the time, so we wanted to take a look at what businesses are out there already . . .
• Dogvacay: Basically loaning your dog to someone else, nice and cheap and somebody lovely gets a pooch for a week or two, but essentially you may as well hand your dog to a random outside Tesco.
• Relay Rides & Getarounds: These companies allow you to borrow your neighbour’s Porsche (consented, of course) and gives you the option to leave your car for people to rent when you’re off on hols.
• Task Rabbit: If you’ve ran out of mates to do you favours, this site means you can hire people to do your odd jobs around the house, moving, shopping etc and the business assures people are put through a stringent vetting process (vet, rabbits… get it? Never mind!).
• Lyft & Sidecar: Car ride sharing service, just a taxi no? No, this service is based on a donation not a fare, let’s hope whoever picks you up likes the same radio station as you.
• Fon-Sharing Wifi: This is alright in theory but it’s difficult to tell hundreds of people to GET OFF when you want to get on to Netflix. We’re not entirely sure how this works, but we’re sure it’s useful!
• Neighbourgoods:This is the electronic version of nipping round for a cup of sugar, minus the natter over the fence.
Some of these are more on the side of sub-letting rather than directly sharing, and obviously there’s the legal mountains of tax avoidance, insurance and all the regulations that currently stand that don’t account for these activities, but it’s a lovely idea in practice. A lot of this may seem like whimsical ideals, but a lot of these industries are making a profound change and it could bleed into other sectors. What happens when we place these principles upon healthcare and education? Even though some might think technology alienates the personal touch, actually the reverse can also be true and neighbours can meet through gardening or power tools sharing online. Any business models that challenge the norm and support freelancers and self-employment (initiatives such as PeopleperHour) are OK in our books, speaking of books we’ve got three boxes to shift, anyone want ’em?