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Sharing Stuff: A review of challenges and unexpected results

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 9th, 2012


Photo by mtsofan via flickr CC

From “Collaborative Chats Recap: Stuff-Sharing: Where’s the Traction?” by Millicent Johnson on Shareable:

This month’s Collaborative Chats explored the world of peer to peer goods sharing services. While everyone loves the concept of sharing underutilized household items, these platforms have had a challenging time gaining traction. Throughout the evening we explored the challenges, lessons, and future of goods sharing. Joining the conversation were:

  • Tim Hyer, Founder and CEO, Getable
  • Micki Krimmel, Founder and CEO, NeighborGoods
  • Kip Harkness, Assistant City Manager, City of San Jose
  • Chris Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, NorCal Rental Group

Below are some reflections from the evening. Check back for the video next week!

What are the Biggest Challenges Facing Peer to Peer Goods Sharing Companies?

The conversation started by discussing the challenges of running a peer to peer goods sharing service. Micki said that when a lot of these services started a few years ago, people assumed that financial transactions were the only type of transaction that would draw people to share. Turns out people don‘t share household items for financial gain alone- it’s simply not the same return on investment as sharing your car or home. It’s a lot of work to post an item and take a picture, just to let someone use your power drill. She’s learned that the value for people who share their stuff is actually the social transaction and return. She reminded us that there are lots of ways that we transact with each other every day, like taking someone out to lunch in exchange for advice, that don’t involve a clear financial exchange but we still perceive them as valuable. She thinks that the challenge for the industry now is to figure out how to get people to pay for the value they receive through the social transaction of sharing.

Tim from Getable felt like the initial challenge for the industry is inventory of goods. When people are able to access a good they need immediately and seamlessly they’re more likely to rent or share in the future. That’s why Getable partnered with traditional sharing businesses like rental companies, to ensure a reliable transaction with guaranteed inventory of what people actually need to share. Micki challenged this assertion by pointing out that on NeighborGoods they have the opposite challenge – lots of inventory and people willing to share and not enough people wanting or looking to borrow, which was fascinating.

Check out the full post by Millicent Johnson on Shareable to read the responses to the other discussion points, below:
  • Is There a Cultural Barrier to Renting Goods?
  • New Ways of Thinking of Transactions
  • New Forms of “Neighborhood”
  • How Sharing can Help Governments
  • The Future of Goods Sharing