Are Sharing Economy Businesses the Go-To Opportunities
The online survey, conducted by Environics Research with funding from the non-profit Metcalf Foundation, examined how people relate with the sharing economy in the Greater Toronto Area. It asked about their experiences working for sharing economy companies, as well as how they used sharing economy services. Nine per cent of respondents said they work or had worked in the sharing economy, providing services including rides, meal preparation, food delivery, cleaning, repairs, or rental accommodations. Among those respondents who had worked in the sharing economy, 71 per cent were under the age of 45.
Dallas-Fort Worth is trying to rise to the forefront of the growing on-demand economy. DFW is considered a major Texas market for two of the best-known, on-demand companies: Airbnb, an online marketplace for home sharing, and Uber, a ridesharing service, both based in California. It’s also been a breeding ground for health-tech companies like Teladoc, Family Health on Call, and Axxess, all of which specialize in different forms of home healthcare services. Projections show that dependence on disruptive technologies will only gain momentum, as the general population becomes more comfortable with artificial intelligence and machines, according to the “DFW 2026: Igniting Economic and Cultural Prosperity in North Texas” report recently released by Capital One and The Institute for the Future.
Last year capital flowing into the sharing economy and on-demand startups sector was down 35 percent from 2015 levels, while the number of deals fell 25 percent, from 375 to 282, according to the analysts at CB Insights. But 2017 is looking like a different story. The sector’s winning startups are going strong — strong enough, in fact, that investors want to fork over more cash. Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital both participated in Airbnb and Instacart’s most recent rounds. Although Airbnb and Instacart’s successful fundraising efforts show that capital is still available for growing sharing economy and on-demand startups, Lyft may have more of a struggle.
Arif Bhanji and his business partners, Zain Manji and Khalil Mangalji, created Fiix, a startup business that sends a mechanic to a customer’s door within hours of a booking. The services are requested through the company’s site or phone; the customer details what needs to be done and the mechanic fixes the car on the customer’s driveway, all without having to leave a car in a garage for hours on end. Their business has been brisk in the 10 months since its inception, racking up $1.4 million in sales. It has also caught the eye of Y Combinator, one of Silicon Valley’s top start-up incubators with a steady track record of investing in companies such as Airbnb, Reddit and Twitch. Working with Y Combinator gives the founders the opportunity to pitch to investors with millions of dollars on the line.
The information imbalances aren’t unique to sharing-economy firms—other internet providers like Google, Facebook, and Amazon all acquire vast amounts of data about their customers and use somewhat opaque algorithms to decide which content to promote, sometimes in ways that can have profound effects on other businesses. This paper’s authors argue that sharing-economy businesses bring unique risks, with so many customers reliant on the platforms for their livelihoods and with customers typically providing the services with both data and money, unlike ad-supported services like Google and Facebook that effectively offer a free service in exchange for personal data.
Turo, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer network, connects owners who list their cars with renters who register, with the company screening both sides. Owners and renters arrange to meet personally to hand over the keys. Much like Airbnb, car owners write online reviews of renters, while renters write review of owners. Turo, like other online platforms, allows buyers and sellers alike to create and build reputations. At Turo, owners set their own prices, based on supply and demand, with Turo getting a percentage that’s based on how much insurance coverage owners want. The network credits itself with inventing the type of insurance coverage that makes the arrangements possible.