We live in an awesome time, don’t we? As little as 5 years ago, we barely had the tools, frameworks and platforms that we have today in order to build a startup to do almost anything.
Do you know what the most interesting thing to me is about the on-demand, sharing economy? It’s not because of the crazy valuations (even though they are crazy), it’s because I personally feel that one aspect of those businesses touched a chord, deep inside humanity. The desire to help each other.
Since we roamed the world in tribes of prehistoric man, we’ve always been and needed to be, social creatures. We then moved to live in villages, towns and cities. However, as time went by, and our cities got bigger and bigger, we lost that sense of community, the connectedness that we’ve had with other people who were physically closer. Since then, with the advent of the internet and social networks, we can now stay connected to people both near and far, building not only those physical communities but communities of interest. With technology, we’ve come full circle back to that original community of “people helping people”.
The other main key aspect of these businesses is that they allow people to leverage what they already have, typically something that is sitting there idle, currently doing nothing. Uber leverages that car, which, according to some studies, is only driven 10% of the time. The rest of the time it’s sitting in your driveway or your garage or in the airport parking lot. AirBnB leverages that spare room you never use. Localtools leverages that bandsaw or that hammer drill that you only used once and is sitting in your garage.
We are really in the very first initial stages of the on-demand sharing economy. If you just took a quick look around your house, I’ll bet that you’ll find at least 100 new startup ideas, based on something sitting right there in front of you.
Take a look now, and see if you can cast your eyes on something shareable and portable. Maybe you can set up a book sharing service, or a fine china sharing service, or a DVD sharing service, or a piano sharing service, or a laptop sharing service. Sure, some of these ideas might be outrageous and probably a non-starter (for example, I’d probably be too concerned that someone might break fine china, where maybe a silverware service might work) but why not a laptop sharing service. There are companies right now which will allow you rent a car for use as Uber driver, why not start a Macbook rental service for developers who want to build iOS apps (since you need a Mac to build iOS apps, and there are probably tons of developers outside of Silicon Valley who might not have a Mac)
That’s just a few possibilities. Just look at everything you have which you are not using at the moment: is there some way someone else can use it? As long as it’s not too personal an item, then if you ask me, its fair game.
— image: Tom Borowski