The Rise of the Sharing Economy

The Rise of the Sharing Economy

August 25

For every service we humans needs, from a house to stay in to a ride to a sitter, there is a startup that is changing the way to do things.

Grocery stores and even McDonald’s are making it easier for us to get things done. I’m sure you have seen the self-checkouts at the store, and in Europe, McDonald’s decided to try out computers, meant to make it easier to get your order right, but also to track how many Big Macs are sold.

Whether you call it the “convenience economy” or “sharing economy,” there are a lot of companies leveraging this trend to provide services.

Though it is a trend, this isn’t a new concept. Media like BetaBeat wrote about this back in 2011 when startups like TaskRabbit — the outsourcing of errands odd jobs — and Zaarly — home services — came on the scene.

Which industries does it work for? Just about anything someone needs done. AirBnb is taking advantage of the home-sharing market; Uber and Lyft are letting the average citizen be your taxi service; DogVacay provides pet sitters. The list goes on and on.

Recently, Business Insider reporter Steve Kovach chronicled his trip to San Francisco where he used convenience apps for everything.

Kovach tried apps like Sprig (delivers gourmet food), Washio (for dry cleaning/laundry), Postmates (food pick-up) and Instacart (personal shopper for grocery store).

Which industries doesn’t it work for? That’s not easy to say. It seems like for every service people want, you can just as easily find someone who says it will reduce his work. One of the more vocal groups has been transportation, where taxi companies are lobbying cities not to allow Uber and Lyft a share of the market.

And, there have also been some stories about people having bad experiences with AirBnb. One of the worst I came across was in California where a renter claimed to have squatter’s rights after occupying and paying for an AirBnb rental for over 30 days. In that state, after 30 days, you attain tenant’s rights, and formal eviction proceedings have to be done to get them out, according to the article.

In addition, Kovach noted that while he got what he asked for from a particular app, there were some drawbacks:  “Many of these startups still rely on a network of contractors who are paid only on commission and tips. TaskRabbit…recently tweaked the way it assigns tasks to its contractors, which caused many to complain that they had essentially been put out of work.”

It’s kind of interesting to note that while big cities with a plethora of taxis aren’t digging Uber and Lyft coming in, it seems like the perfect app for smaller cities and towns where you already have to call a cab or limo service.

My editor came across an awesome article about people getting in random cars thinking they are with the driving services. The tweets are hilarious. I found it crazy that there were that many people driving around with their doors unlocked.

From the way things are going, I don’t see these apps going away soon, and there will undoubtedly be more to come.

Photo credit: Richard Drdul via Flickr