The sharing economy - or as some people describe it, the collaborative consumption economy - is big business. And as the ins and outs of AirBnB and CouchSurfing and Kickstarter are best left to those who have a need to use them, I'll content myself here with a few stats that give you an idea of just how big that business is - or is going to be.

First, a definition: The sharing economy is about monetising the surplus value of the things you own by giving others access. (Or put another way, collaboratively recirculating the dormant use of assets, facilities or skills, for money.) It's a highly disruptive economic proposition that's also (mostly) dependent on the social web and trust.

It's also moved from the online platform to the offline. Here are some of the stats:

AirBnB, has 800,000 city listings globally and in 2012 generated $180m in revenue.
Couchsurfing has had 3 million people users.
ZipCar recently sold to Avis for $500m.
Car sharing now is predicted to generate revenues of $3.6billion in North America by 2016..
Crowd funding - built around the online model - is forecast to exceed $5billion in contributions by the end of 2015.
In 2012, Kickstarter hosted 73,620 projects, generating $381m in funding (44% were successfully funded). One interactive comic book - where you get to pick the end that you want - raised $10m itself. The originator now gives it away.

And globally, 2 million trips taken via bike share per month.

Bike share: the revolution

A quiet revolution that began with free (too much damage and theft) and is now, in its fourth generation, IT-based, bike shares are popping up all over the place. Real Estate Development and Finance Anlyst Lee Sobel lays out the facts on bike share (and points us to this cool bike trip animation here.)

The bike share of today is usually a membership model that's joined with a credit card, unless you're low income, in which case special arrangements apply, like joining via phone or library, often at reduced rates. This allows the bike you're using to be monitored on where it's taken from, where it is now and where it's put back. Members usually get the first 30 minutes free (is it because he's a financial analyst that he knows to adjust the seat before logging on, so as not to waste those precious 10 seconds taken with adjustment from seat position 10 to 6?) and then they're charged a fee per 30mins thereafter.

Data shows that most trips are 22 minutes on average and therefore most revenue comes from tourists and - wait for it - gay members. (I'm disappointed that he didn't explain more about the latter.) If a station is filled, you can get 15 mins extra and go to another station.

The San Fransisco pilot project has apparently also established the base operational model, looking at job, residential, and retail density, as well as topography and other factors to drive the location of the stations. Each network typically has 20 - 30 stations, costing about  $43,000-$50,000 per bike station with 20 bikes in each, with about  $25,000 in maintenance each year.

It's an upfront and ongoing cost that can be met from a variety of sources, with a series of benefits that span both the health and social arenas.

New Orleans food start ups

Perhaps it's the fact that after Katrina, New Orleans lost a third of its restaurants. Or perhaps, they just love to eat. But I am astounded at the number of food incubation examples that are going on in New Orleans.

For instance, Edible Enterprises  is home to 29 start ups. With a recommended $2,000 before you begin, both young [people but more commonly older people, can simply swipe their membership card and access the shared commercial kitchen, logistics and marketing facilities.

Another venture, Cafe Reconcile, teaches disadvantaged kids the whole food industry. Each chooses an element of the industry to learn about, but they also get other teaching too: vocabulary, work and life skills, with the prospect of work with chefs around town at the end of it.

There's also a strong agricultural industry in the city. With a Community Support Agriculture initiative that sells produce not from regional farmers, but from the city's experimental farm and a host of backyard growers, urban micro-farms, and community gardens.

Finally, the Tulane Teaching Kitchen, an initiative of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, and the first dedicated teaching kitchen to be implemented at a medical school, is moving into a big box space, where it will give hands-on training for medical students through culinary medicine classes as well as continuing education for the healthcare and foodservice industries.



AuthorAmanda Falconer
Categoriessharing economy