The sharing economy has already changed the world, and it has brought a surprising trend
of decentralization to our culture. While centralized organizations (i.e. governments, banks, unions) aren’t always the most ardent fans of the sharing economy (see the Boston taxi cab driver unions vs. Uber as an example), the average citizen, whether we realize it or not, is set to benefit in jaw-dropping ways as new technologies and ideas break out. (And Chicago will certainly not be left behind; see point 3 below about the new parking sharing economy.)
The most important question is this: what will we be sharing in the future? Here are a few exciting sharing trends that society will enjoy as these ideas (that are, frankly, still in their infancy) blossom to maturity:
1. We’re Sharing Ideas for Cars: Crowdsourcing Car Design and Manufacturing
Local Motors is severely disrupting the automobile industry and challenging every major company to rethink how they do things. His company actually crowdsources car designs from the public, and then he uses micro-manufacturing to 3-D print the custom-designed cars at a tiny cost compared to the traditional model of the giant corporate car manufacturing plant. Although 3-D printing is not anything new, the way Local Motors is crowdsourcing car design ideas (and then combining that with micro-manufacturing tech) is indeed new, and it’s making headlines.
As YPO.org observes:
Local Motors uses a cloud-based platform to break down the crowd into idea creators, idea developers and commenters/critics. So if there are 10 developers for every creator and 10 commenters for every developer, a project with five creators might have 500 people adding constructive comments to the idea. That creates real business power that would be difficult to get within a traditional organizational structure.
2. Sharing Capital for Early Stage Startups
OurCrowd is becoming one of the primary trailblazers in the Wild West of investor crowdfunding, the exciting new peer-to-peer style approach to raising capital for startups. OurCrowd rallies investors around a startup, gets the investors to evaluate it, and then team up to fund it.
3. We’re Sharing Our Private Parking Spaces
ParqEx, an app that is designed specifically for Chicago and its parking challenges, is leading the way in the helpful new trend of parking space sharing, in which owners of private parking spaces lease their spots to drivers. The ParqEx app, for example, allows drivers to search for private parking spaces based on location, and then reserve the space by month, week, date, and even hour. In addition, the owners of parking spaces can use the app to lease their spots and earn some extra income — a win-win for everyone involved.
4. We’re Sharing Our World-Class Education and Practical Experience (for a Very Low Cost)
Sure, we share our homes, investment funds, parking spaces, cars — heck, even our car design ideas — so what’s next on the share list?
Student debt and its depressingly high growth rate in the U.S. is finally pushing people to find other ways to get educated. Enter startups like Skillshare. Its premise is simple: use a low cost Spotify-styled subscription approach that gives members access to extremely high quality online classes.
And it’s not mediocre, thrown together imitations of education. We’re talking world-class educators, many of whom are at the top of their fields. In addition, Skillshare is changing the game by changing the definition of what makes a great teacher. They are looking for real-world leaders who have years of hands-on, practical experience — i.e. a successful Fortune 500 executive instead of a professor who can teach about business theory at an Ivy League school, yes, but has little real world experience or success. For example, want to take a screenwriting class from actor James Franco? No problem. How about a marketing class from Seth Godin? Go for it.
The scary thing is that the sharing economy is just getting started, and the examples above represent only a small fraction of what is happening.
The future is very bright.