Using Sharing Apps to Bootstrap a Living Income

Here’s the core idea:  nearly everything can be unbundled and sold/rented/leased/etc. as small, individual units.  This applies to everything, from

  • jobs to
  • house/cars/stuff to
  • productive capacity of the systems you own (more on that later).

Unbundling, and the economic vigor it enables is at the core of the direct economy.   That’s an economy where everyone directly interconnects to get things done and many of the traditional middlemen get cut out.  If we’re going to rebuild the American dream, we need to leverage the direct economy to do it.

One portion of the direct economy is white hot right now.   It’s called the “sharing economy.”   As you will see, it’s poorly named.  Mainly  because it doesn’t have anything to do with sharing and it’s only a sliver of what’s coming via the direct economy.   Sharing economy apps/sites make it easy to turn your house/car/stuff into a source of income.

Here’s an example.

Selling a Place to Sleep:  Airbnb

Every home or apartment can be sold as a place to sleep for the night.  How? In the past, finding customers was 99% of the problem w/doing this.  Airbnb is an app/site that makes it easy for customers to find you.  It’s popular, over 140,000 people are currently sleeping in rooms that they found online.  Without this app, people like Anne in the suburbs of Boston would never be able to rent out a spare room at $30 a night.  Why?  Customers would never find her, nor would they trust her enough to take her up on the offer.

While the potential income stream of renting a spare room (or a tree house or a spare garage space) isn’t a silver bullet, it’s one of many potential income streams the direct economy offers.

Get it?



BTW:  Here’s the classic founder’s story for Airbnb that may resonate.  It starts when founder Brian Chesky couldn’t pay his rent on the San Francisco apartment he shared. So, he innovated:

“Unfortunately, my share came to $1,150 and I only had $1,000 in the bank, so I had a math problem — and I was unemployed,” said Chesky. But they did have an idea. The week Chesky got to town, in October 2007, San Francisco was hosting the Industrial Designers Society of America, and all the hotel rooms on the conference Web site were sold out. So Chesky and Gebbia (his roomie) decided, why not turn their house into a bed and breakfast for attendees?

The problem was “we had no beds,” but Gebbia did have three air mattresses. “So we inflated them and called ourselves ‘Airbed and Breakfast,’ ” Chesky, 31, recalled for me in an interview. “Three people stayed with us, and we charged them $80 a night. We also made breakfast for them and became their local guides.” In the process, they made enough money to cover the rent.

Here’s the unbundling idea applied to trust/brand:

It used to be that corporations and brands had all the trust,” added Chesky, but now a total stranger, “can be trusted like a company and provide the services of a company. And once you unlock that idea, it is so much bigger than homes.”

Sound familiar?

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Discussion — 5 Responses

  • Chris November 11, 2013 on 5:21 pm

    lyft – p2p car sharing, same concept. drivers get paid in “donations” with the company taking 20% of the cut. I have a neighbor who is driving for them making enough to cover car payments driving several nights a week.

  • Brian Genung November 11, 2013 on 11:24 pm in Seattle Beta. P2P food from gardens, urban chickens. Powering up the local food economy.

    • John Robb Brian Genung November 12, 2013 on 7:14 pm

      Thanks. JR