Your Mom Had It Right All Along: Sharing Benefits Everybody

Mar 13, 2011   //   by Bradley Short   //   Blog, Company Profiles, Leadership, Social Entrepreneurship  //  7 Comments

Take a look in your closet, your garage, and your storage unit.  If you’re like most Americans, then it is full of years’ worth of stuff that is essentially unused, was probably expensive, and definitely took natural resources to produce.

For over a decade, people have realized that there is untapped opportunity in the piles of accumulated junk that fills up their houses.  That’s why eBay has become so successful.  But what about the stuff that you might use someday, just not every day?  Why not put your built up assets to work for you?  Let others rent your things when you don’t need them.

“Netflix for everything!”

Services like Rentalic will take eBay’s idea of making your unused stuff profitable to the next level.  Rentalic’s founder and CEO, Punsi Abeywickrema, told a group of us at SXSW how his service will be “Netflix for everything.”  They utilize social technologies to enable person-to-person renting.

When items get rented out, the amount of time any given item sits dormant is drastically reduced.  Therefore, the utility of any given thing skyrockets.  The owner knows that their purchase will bring money back to them and value to renters (all while helping the environment).  At its core, it really is just about getting more value for everyone out of a single item.

Sharing in action

One of the most visible examples of this same idea that is already catching on is in car-sharing.  Many cities have embraced companies like ZipCar and Zimride which are making each single vehicle much more useful.

In Austin, car2go is a great car-sharing service that allows members to pick up cars from all over town, drive them where they need to, and then leave them on just about any public street for anyone else to use.  It has been a great success, has recently partnered with Whole Foods, and is rolling out even more vehicles this month.

An industry ready to grow

More entrepreneurs should start considering these new ideas of communal ownership when devising new businesses.  Developers can create the technological solutions that the industry will need.  And ordinary people can become “micro-preneurs” by letting others rent their goods.

So what does this mean for established companies?  Automakers like BMW and Smart have already started producing vehicles designed specifically for sharing.  Businesses in other sectors should follow suit.  Sharing consumers will also demand higher-priced, higher-quality goods (no planned obsolescence here), and they’ll also be more willing to have their products serviced.  They will return to the manufacturer over and over and in doing so, will become closer to your brand (if you can deliver the services they need).

Sharing is good for enterprise, communities, and the environment.  So follow your mother’s advice, and share!

  • Jonno Norton

    Awesome

  • http://www.businessearth.com/category/blog Bradley Short

    Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

  • Lillian

    Great article!
    I’m a big fan of Rentalic and use it all the time!
    I rent out my text books, snow chains, party dresses etc.
    and I borrow things like a cordless high power vacuum cleaner to clean my car

  • http://twitter.com/mwang81 Monica Wang

    The sharing industry has such a great future and I’m glad that people are beginning to take the initiative to get more people involved. Rentalic is not only a great way to make money with things you already own, but it is also a great way to find people who are also interested in reusing and sharing.

  • Caitlin

    Even when the economy wasn’t what it is today sharing was a good idea.  Now, it’s an even better idea.  Sites like Rentalic make you money where before you might have been losing money.  There’s really no reason why everyone has to have one of everything and barely use it.  I think the sharing industry is the new, more sustainable alternative to useless consumption and I’m happy sites like Rentalic are helping this happen!

  • Ding

    Punsri, the founder of Rentalic, has really started something revolutionary. When I first learned about Rentalic, I was shocked that something this useful hadn’t been created yet. I will be watching closely as P2P sharing networks grow, especially this one!

  • http://www.businessearth.com/category/blog Bradley Short

    I’m excited to hear all of your enthusiasm about Rentalic and sharing.  For those who’ve used the service (or something similar) before, what made you feel comfortable enough to try it for the first time?