Collaborative Economy Market Update, March 31st, 2015

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Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Catalyst Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

The Collaborative Economy’s Money-Making Middlemen: The sharing economy resemble the California gold rush of the mid-1800s. A lot of people got involved. Some struck it rich. Only a few got filthy rich, but they created their own wealth by supply everything from tools to Levis. The Harvard Business Review identified three groups who are striking it rich in the Collaborative Economy. Power Sharers like Breeze and YardClub,are cropping up in large cities, where there is lots of demand. They buy assets in order to rent them to participants in the sharing economy. Power Operators, like Pillow and ZenDrive,provide support operations for freelancers, allowing them to focus on their primary business. Power Organizers, like Peers.org, provide platforms that create uniformity and trust for providers and customers alike. Read more at this link to the Harvard Business Review.

The National League of Cities Issues Major Report on the Sharing Economy: The NLC issued a 44-page report on March 10th that addresses how the sharing economy impacts five key areas in urban settings: innovation, economic development, equity, safety and implementation.Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities noted that, “There is an enormous potential to empower our communities with innovative new approaches to doing business.” The report asks and answers questions like, “Where do politics and innovation intersect as cities work to create new policies?” as it provides an analysis of what is currently happening in U.S. cities on the ground, in order to assist city leaders as they seek to make sense of the sharing economy. A copy of the complete report is available online.

Prequel to Open as DC’s First Successful Equity Crowdfunding Campaign: Prequel, a 17,000 square foot restaurant in the Penn Quarter district of Washington DC, is slated to open this spring as the first fully-crowded funded restaurant in the city. Following DC’s recently established crowdfunding guidelines, Prequel was able to raise $220,000 from 339 DC residents within 30 days using the EquityEats platform. EquityEats previous campaigns, which have focused on certified investors, have been unsuccessful. Read more about this story in The Washington Post.

The Technology Layers of the Collaborative Economy: The March 3rd edition of The Huffington Post featured an article by our own Jeremiah Owyang. In it, he revealed the five layers of technology that enable the Collaborative Economy to exist. In fact, the Collaborative Economy would not be able to function efficiently without sharable technological resources (e.g., smart phones), mobile apps, application inter-connectivity, trust enabled by social media, and cloud services. For more in-depth information about the technological enablement of the Collaborative Economy, read the full text of Jeremiah’s article here.

Collaborative Economy on the Rise: The sharing model in Asia has evolved into what is now known as a Circular Economy. In this model collaborative consumption is regarded with as much favor as Goods as a Service and other elements of the Collaborative Economy. The Circular Economy includes more emphasis on remanufacturing and recycling, as well as sharing the benefits gained from collaboration. Corporate giant, Phillips, supplies Asian companies with free, high-efficiency lighting in return for a portion of the energy saving. Singtex, a Taiwanese firm collects used coffee grounds from Starbucks locations and recycles them into products like T-shirts, socks and soap. Eco-Business has published an in-depth story on this growing phenomenon.

Joinem Raises $5 Million to Launch New Service: Joinem, touted as “the first community-powered digital retailer to monetize the full potential of social commerce,” has raised $5 million in new funding to launch its WePower collaborative purchasing website, introducing group buying to the Collaborative Economy. After successful beta testing, the Dallas-based enterprise is set to introduce its new platform that combines features of the sharing economy, mobile technology and ecommerce. WePower searches and connects seekers with suppliers to leverage the crowd’s collaborative power to secure the lowest prices for quantity purchases. To understand how Joinem will deploy WePower, read the article in Business Wire.

Yahoo Travel Promotes Sharing Services: Yahoo Travel ran a story on March 9th that promoted parts of the sharing economy as a means of reducing travel expenses while also enjoying an upscale experience. It wasn’t a big surprise to see Airbnb accommodations promoted as an option to hotel rooms. Airbnb wins on price and amenities. The story also recommended another emerging source of business ride-sharing that is cropping up in major urban corridors, such as LimoLiner, servicing Boston and Midtown NYC. The cost of LimoLiner is substantially less than air or train fare and the experience comes replete with first-class everything, including on board attendants, complimentary meals, WiFi, and “sparkling clean restrooms with fresh cut flowers.” Read the original report on Yahoo to learn more how inexpensive, no-hassle luxury is emerging in the sharing space.

“Ride-Sharing” Is Banned by the Associated Press: Although it could be considered a subtlety, as of January 2015, the Associated Press has officially begun referring to ridesharing as ride-hailing. This does matter in discussions about the Collaborative Economy because the AP sets the general standard for terminology used in written communication. The AP Stylebook has been updated to include “Ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft use smartphone apps to book and pay for a private care service or, in some cases, a taxi. They may also be called ride-booking services. Please do not use ride-sharing.” See the story in Greater Greater Washington for more information.

Is the Sharing Economy Really About Sharing?: Not according to Giana M. Eckhardt andFleura Bardhi, or any dictionary. Sharing refers to divided use, which is an aspect of the broader subject matter. This is why we prefer to use the term Collaborative Economy. Collaboration denotes working together. The authors rightly observe that this so-called sharing is, rather, economic exchange and, as we have continually maintained, an access rather than ownership model. When they stated that, “The access economy is changing the structure of a variety of industries, and a new understanding of the consumer is needed to drive successful business models,” they have validated Catalyst Companies’ raison d’être. Read their entire report in the Harvard Business Review and Jeremiah Owyang’s blog post “It’s Just the Economy.”

Image by Greg Lobinski used under Creative Commons license.

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