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03.02.2015
Five years ago, everybody was excited about the idea of using tech to borrow things like power drills. Digital strategist Ana Andjelic argues that brands need not be left out of the collaborative economy boom; they simply have to reorient their marketing approach around creating value, and the complete consumer experience. Read More>>" class="">Are Airbnb, Zipcar, Etsy, and Uber really all doing the same thing? Already there were a bevy of startups with dreams of facilitating the community-shared power drill.
Of the eight sites listed above, only NeighborGoods is still around—after it ran through its seed funding, it was salvaged by an investor with a personal interest in the idea. It was a beautiful idea that struck hard, but when it died, nobody seemed to notice (some publications continued to cite SnapGoods, for instance, a year after it shut down). For Gary Cige, who founded a peer-to-peer rental platform called Zilok in 2007, inspiration struck after he actually did need a power drill on a Sunday in Paris. I went online and I was like, okay, $175 to buy something I’m probably going to just use once. Williams’s mother took articles about SnapGoods to show her neighbors, and for the first time, Williams felt that she really understand what he did.
But most of these platforms soon discovered a discomforting incongruity between enthusiasm for the concept and actual use.
SnapGoods and NeighborGoods had more people who wanted to lend things than wanted to pay to use them.
Is it really worth your time to trek potentially 25 minutes to go get something that you spent $15 to use for the day, and then have to trek back? Schwartz moved from Cincinnati, where she had founded Share Some Sugar, to New York, and she slowly stopped answering customer service emails until she shut the site down about three years ago.
Parking Panda once marketed itself as a way to share parking spaces with neighbors, but now many of its shared parking spaces are in restaurants, hotels, commercial garages, and airports.


Last year, he and his cofounder, Sebastien Martel, founded MyNeighbor, a platform for renting and borrowing anything. Maybe the sharing economy really has come full circle, and what started as an idea about sharing among neighbors will finally turn into popular tools for sharing among neighbors.
Even Berk, who stopped looking for funding for Neighborrow in 2009, who believes that the core problem with the idea was not trust, insurance, funding, interface, or anything other than human apathy, is still trying to make the sharing economy work. Click through for previous Fast Company coverage of the sharing economy." class="">The sharing economy is a much-loved idea that, in its purest form, has not taken off. American consumerism had been tamped by one of the worst recessions in history, concerns about the environment were growing, and new online networks provided a connective thread that could help us get by on less by sharing things with our neighbors. Entrepreneur magazine named NeighborGoods one of its 100 most brilliant companies of 2011, and it’s hard to find a publication that covers technology that did not mention the idea of sharing the power drill.
And nobody seemed to ask the question of how an idea that everybody loved so much, an idea that made so much sense on a practical and social level, morphed into the pure capitalism that it is today.
The people for whom the answer is yes were unlikely to be using platforms like SnapGoods, which generally attracted upper middle class early adopters who were comfortable with technology.
Rent the Runway successfully rents dresses, but from a warehouse full of 65,000 garments, not from stylish neighbors.
It’s rather that they have little to do with the original promise of the sharing economy.
Now there are courier services in many urban areas that will whisk your power drill from point A to point B for a minimal fee.
If someone requests something from Neighborrow that isn’t already on the inventory list and costs less than $250, he will buy it from Amazon, send it to them, and ask them to send it along to the next user who wants to rent it. While sites like Airbnb and Uber became giant companies, the platform on which we would share our power drills with neighbors never took off. And Zipcar, acquired by Avis in 2013, successfully changed the way we rent cars, but we’re definitely not meeting each other by doing so.


Neighborhood social network Nextdoor has scaled across 69,000 communities, proving that neighbors do want to connect.
When Nielsen polled more than 30,000 Internet users, 23% of them said they would be willing to rent their power tools to neighbors. Maybe, he thought, he could convince livery drivers to transport goods for a fee when they had empty cars (a great idea, it turns out, that Uber would later embrace). Facebook recently added a feature that makes it easy for people in groups to buy, sell, and trade items. So I went online and I was like, okay, $175 to buy something I’m probably going to just use once.
A change she made right away was removing the option to rent goods, which ensured the platform would truly be focused on neighborhood favors. In order to address the problem of more people posting goods than renting them, he refocused the site so that people could advertise the things they wanted. Peerby, the most successful current peer-to-peer rental platform, says it has processed more than 100,000 transactions and has 500,000 users. But it was so easy to find something online to buy that I figured oh gosh, it should be this easy to find something in my neighborhood. After he appeared on the Today show, for instance, Berk says about 2,000 people signed up for Neighborrow in one week. He shifted his attention to creating that technology, today called Knod.es, and shut down SnapGoods.
Now he is the managing partner of a strategy and product development consultancy firm called proofLabs Group.



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