Want to Create the Next Air BnB? Here's What's Stopping You

Air BnB/Screen capture

I recently wrote that the biggest barrier to sharing may be ourselves, but as the collaborative consumption revolution continues to make big bucks, it's becoming increasingly evident that this barrier is slipping away as we use technology to reinvent age-old systems of bartering and peer-to-peer business transactions.

Nevertheless, this new way of looking at business requires a fundamental rethink of some basic assumptions that most of us have grown up with. TriplePundit has an excellent summary of the challenges you must overcome if you want to be the next Air BnB:

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that “collaborative consumption” is all the rage. Whether it’s peer-to-peer marketplaces for housing, transportation, services, or old clothing — the idea of using technology to facilitate economic transactions between two individuals (rather than between consumers and companies) is coming into its own.

The Airbnb of Anything: The Growth of P2P Markets featured leaders in this fast-growing industry talking about their challenges, and what they’ve learned along the way. The key takeaway? If you want to be successful in this space, you need to solve two problems: fear and inventory.

The first problem, fear, is probably what everyone thinks about when they consider barriers to collaborative consumption. I mean, who in their right mind would let a stranger take their car for a day or crash on their couch? But the building of online reputations and community-based policing of norms has shown that this is much less of a challenge than you might think.

The second challenge, inventory, is probably more burdensome. If you want to build a peer-to-peer car sharing service, how do you get enough providers and users to build momentum and get things going? This is the problem we encountered with my own neighborhood tool share scheme, with way more people willing to lend than needing to borrow. Despite my declaration that it's OK to be a freeloader, the idea fizzled out as it began to feel like "Sami's personal begging list".

Luckily, there are solutions to all these problems. Check out the Triple Pundit post on the challenges of collaborative consumption to learn how industry veterans have overcome some of these biggest barriers.

Tags: Consumerism | Economics | Living With Less | United States

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