Archive for the ‘Collaborative Economy’ Category

How To Use Price to Compete In The Collaborative Economy


numbers-money-calculating-calculationIf you want to compete with startups like Instacart, Uber and Etsy, there’s one aspect of your product or service that you might want to re-evaluate: your price.

As we revealed in The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, a report I co-authored with technology strategist Alexandra Samuel, cost savings is a key driver in the growth of the collaborative economy—the economic phenomenon where people get the products and services they need from each other instead of buying them by traditional means.

The report, based on a study by Vision Critical, the leading customer intelligence platform provider, shows that price is a significant driver to the growth of the collaborative economy. We found that a great majority of sharing transactions are at least partly motivated by price. Our study shows that getting a good price is an extremely or very important factor in 68 percent of sharers’ latest sharing transactions.

In fact, we found that more than half of traditional purchasers—those who choose traditional ways of buying instead of using a sharing service—will consider the collaborative economy if it means saving 25 percent. Cost is an even bigger factor among younger customers like millennials and Gen Zs.



For traditional companies that want to win back customers who are now participating in the collaborative economy, price is a critical competitive tactic. If the buying option were less expensive, an overwhelming majority (70 percent) of sharers would consider buying instead.


So what does this mean for established brands that are in the crosshairs of the collaborative economy movement? These tactical considerations are a good start:

  1. Lower your price, if possible. Financial savings is a big motivation for sharers in the collaborative economy, and your customers will switch from sharing to buying if it means more cash in their pockets. Offer other value added services, such as on-demand services, insurance, and more.
  2. Reduce cost of ownership via rental. For companies that sell expensive, infrequently used products, enabling access via rental models to your products could be an easy way of participating in the collaborative economy. We’ll share some real-world examples in our upcoming webinar.
  3. Empower your customers to sell back pre-owned goods. Establishing a used goods marketplace could make sense if your customers are already buying or trading your pre-owned products. Not only does this prove product durability, a commitment to the environment, it also provides opportunity for upsell later.

Join me on December 1 for a live Vision Critical webinar for a deeper dive on how to use price as a competitive tactic in the collaborative economy.

Infographics: Growth of Sharing in the Collaborative Economy


Participation in the Collaborative Economy has grown by 25 percent in the past year alone. That’s one of the key findings we shared in The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, a Vision Critical report I co-authored with tech strategist Alexandra Samuel.

As the infographics below shows, more than 110 million North Americans now do some form of sharing in the Collaborative Economy. More than half of North Americans now get the products and services they need from each other, peer to peer, instead of buying from established corporations.


The rapid rise of the Collaborative Economy raises an important question for businesses: what’s driving the growth of this movement? More importantly, is it a permanent shift in customer behavior? Data in our report, which draws on input from more than 50,000 North Americans, provides some crucial insight on these issues.

We found that a big driver of growth in the Collaborative Economy is the adoption of newer forms of sharing services. In 2014, 16 percent of American sharers engaged in only one form of sharing: by buying and/or sharing pre-owned goods. This year, that number is down to 10 percent because people are trying a broader range of sharing services.

Looking at the various categories of sharing services, we’ve seen an across-the-board increase in sharing. Sharing of goods is still the most common form of participation in the Collaborative Economy, but there’s also significant growth in crowdfunding, space-sharing and custom products. Online learning, a sharing category we included for the first time this year, is already seeing a 15 percent participation rate.


The growth of the Collaborative Economy isn’t about to stop anytime soon. Based on people’s intent, we’re predicting that eight in 10 Americans will be part of the Collaborative Economy by 2017—a 20 percent increase from 2015. Growth of “neo-sharing”—participation in the latest generation of sharing services—will fuel the overall growth of the Collaborative Economy. For every person who has participated in a form of sharing in the past 12 months, there’s a new person who intends to try that type of neo-sharing in the year to come.



Clearly, the Collaborative Economy is here to stay. Combating startups, complementing sharing services and gaining a deeper understanding of the empowered crowd is an urgent call for established corporations today.

So what does this mean for established corporations? Three things:

  1. This is not a fad or trend—it’s a movement that’s here to stay. Adoption is accelerating due to social trends, economic conditions, and availability of powerful technology.
  2. Not all behaviors are the same. As indicated above, the sharing of goods is dominant, but every industry must first understand how their market segment is changing.
  3. Established companies must lead this movement by changing their business models to suit the needs of changing customer preferences. We’ll share more, in our upcoming webinar.

To learn more about the growth of sharing, join me inThe New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, a live webinar with Vision Critical founder Andrew Reid on December 1.

The Real Mythical Creatures of the Collaborative Economy: Centaurs, Unicorns, and Pegasus


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Above: Version 1.1, with updated data. Version 1.0 is available here.

Collaborative Economy valuation is through the rainbow-beaming clouds. These highly funded, fast-growing, media-hounded startups are the portfolio darlings of any venture capital firm, while this crowd-based, on-demand, collaborative category enables people to access resources from peers using efficient mobile devices.

The Collaborative Economy market has received a total of $25 billion in investor funding, but not all companies are equal. Using the “mythical” creature lexicon of Silicon Valley, we’ve sorted Collaborative Economy startups based on highest valuation. We didn’t even include the “Little Ponies” that are valued at $10 million – $100M as the list would be in the hundreds.

Working with VC Dave McClure of 500 Startups, who has been championing a number of these fun terms, we constructed this handy little chart so you could see which startups have achieved high valuations.

Is this space over-funded? Over-valued? I’m sure that’s the case for some of these companies, as frothy tech markets are a normal part of the startup scene. The difference between these startups and prior years is that they are generating revenue from every transaction. In fact, most startups take a 10 to 15% cut from every transaction in the marketplace. One danger of over-valuation means that acquisition becomes near impossible, with the most obvious exit being an IPO.

If the valuations are incorrect, kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll amend the database. We plan to  eventually publish an updated version.

Related resources:

(And yes, we know the plural of Pegasus is Pegasi.)

Report: The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, 2015 Data on the Rise of Sharing


The biggest shift in the business landscape since the Internet continues to grow—and established, traditional companies need to act soon in order to compete. That’s one of the key findings in The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, a report I co-authored with tech researcher Alexandra Samuel, released today. The report is an update to Sharing is the New Buying, a 2014 report that, for the first time ever, mapped the prevalence of the collaborative economy and its impact on the business world.

You can download the full report The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, at no cost.

What is the collaborative economy?
The collaborative economy is an economic movement where common technologies enable people to get the goods and services they need from each other, peer to peer, instead of buying from established corporations.

You don’t have to look very far to see how disruptive the collaborative economy has become. Today, the world’s largest hospitality brand—Airbnb—owns not a single room or hotel and is worth $25 billion. Uber, valued at over $50 billion, is the world’s largest taxi service—and it doesn’t own a single vehicle. Barely four years old, the online grocery shopping service Instacart is already worth $2 billion.

Overall, the collaborative economy has produced 17 billion-dollar companies and 10 so-called unicorns. Collectively, sharing startups have already received $15 billion in funding—surpassing the social media space that spurred giants like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

How big is the collaborative economy?
In one word: massive. We used Vision Critical’s customer intelligence platform and discovered that at least one in five customers now chooses sharing as their initial preferred option. The past year alone has seen an impressive growth in the collaborative economy. In North America, participation in this space has grown by 25 percent. More than 110 million people in the U.S. and Canada have participated in some form of sharing in the past year.

The collaborative economy encompases many different categories and different forms of sharing. Last year, we looked at 11 categories; this time, we explored 13, adding online learning and Bitcoin to the list. It’s worth noting that all categories that we looked at this year have seen some growth in participation—reiterating the impressive growth of this movement.

The following inforgraphic is a portion of the full report, which you can download at no cost.


Is sharing here to stay?
To determine the staying power of the collaborative economy, we asked people who stopped using sharing services in the past 12 months why they did so. In every category of sharing, about 2 to 6 percent of sharers report skipping that form of sharing in the past 12 months even though they had previously tried it, so we asked them why. Is it due to disenchantment with the sharing movement?

What we found is that people who stopped sharing in a certain category are doing so not because of dissatisfaction but because of experimentation. Indeed, 70 percent of people that have used a given form of sharing (but not in the past 12 months) say they’re likely to try that form of sharing again in the future. And, in fact, people who’ve dropped out of one or more categories of sharing are the people most likely to be engaged in other forms of sharing. In other words, people are trying different forms of sharing, sometimes to the detriment of other categories.

Dissatisfaction is not a factor. Where a sharer has given up on a form of sharing in the past year, only two percent of those instances are due to the sharer having a bad experience.

Will the collaborative economy grow even more?
Based on people’s intent to try different sharing services, we’re forecasting that eight in 10 Americans will be part of the collaborative economy by 2017. But the bigger threat for companies is this: as many as three in four traditional buyers have indicated that they might choose sharing instead of buying in the next year. For every person who has participated in a form of sharing in the past 12 months, there’s a new person who intends to try that type of sharing.

The continued, rapid growth of the collaborative economy makes it clear that sharing is not a fad. Figuring out how to compete in this space is an urgent issue for companies today, and it’s one of the main reasons why I founded my company, Crowd Companies. To remain relevant, brands need to get closer to their customers and identify the business models that make the most sense for them.

If you’re not yet feeling the effects of collaborative consumption, it’s only a matter of time. Sharing is disruptive and the companies that win in the collaborative economy recognize that they must change with and for their customers in order to thrive.

Download the full report The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy to learn more.

Related Resources

Ten Reasons Why Investors Love Shared Transportation



Half the funding in the Collaborative Economy goes to transportation.
By our count, the Collaborative Economy has been funded $25 billion, one of the highest funded tech industries, ever. For comparison, global social networks have been funded a mere $6 billion, which is just a quarter of the Collaborative Economy. Within the $25 billion funded, $13 billion has been invested in the transportation space, which is 52% of all funding dollars.

What’s shared transportation? Chances are, you’re already using it.
First, let’s define the category of shared transportation. It includes: 1) rides as a service, and 2) vehicle sharing. If you’ve taken a ride as a service like Lyft, Uber, Ola, or Didi, you’ve participated in shared transportation. If you’ve experienced ridesharing or carpooling with startups like BlaBlaCar in Europe, you’ve also participated. If you’ve borrowed a car from a peer using startups like RelayRides, Getaround, or a boat from Boatbound, Sailsquare, or Boatsetter, you’ve participated in sharing vehicles.

Five startups in Europe, India, China, and the USA are receiving the funds.
How is this $13 billion of funding distributed? First of all, it’s hard to fully calculate, as some of the debt financing to Uber makes it difficult to truly tabulate. Here’s a breakout of the top startups: Uber more than $6B; China’s Didi more than $4B; Europe’s BlaBlaCar more than $2B; America’s Lyft more than $1B (who partnered with Didi); and India’s Ola Car more than $600K. These startups lead the overall top-funded tech companies, even across multiple sectors. See full stats on this multi-tab Google sheet.

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Above Graphic: The Collaborative Economy has been funded over $25B, but $13B (53%) has gone to the transportation sector, see full multi-tab Google sheet for more details.

Ten Reasons Why Investors Love Shared Transportation

So why have VCs invested so much capital into the transportation space? There’s at least ten reasons why this category is so attractive:

  1. Everyone needs it. We’re all dependent on mobility and transportation; even shut-ins need services and goods brought to their homes. The physical movement of goods and services is the lifeblood of an economy, and now it’s digitized for all to harness using these technologies.
  2. Most people will live in big cities. Multiple urbanization studies indicate that most of Earth’s population will reside in large dense cities, many inside of “Megacities” which have more than 10 million inhabitants. The rise of the population, and the density that comes with it, means that shared vehicles and shared rides are inevitable.
  3. Rapid global adoption. While various carpooling efforts have existing for years, the mobile-based apps phenomenon triggered massive growth. Adoption numbers cited from startups show a rapid increase in adoption globally. The ability to access a ride is as easy as downloading an app and connecting it to your credit card.
  4. Vehicles are mostly idle. Vehicles, whether they be autos, boats, or trucks, are some of the least used assets that we own. We’re often in our homes a third of the day, but vehicles are only used 5% of the time or less. These idle assets that clog up parking, streets, and neighborhoods can now be activated in car sharing, reducing the number of cars on the road.
  5. They’re expensive assets. Many view vehicles as depreciating assets, or in some cases, liabilities that require payment plans, insurance, gas, maintenance, parking, and more. For those in an urban environment, the costs can increase even further with storage costs, parking tickets, and more.
  6. An easily shareable asset. Unlike personalized clothes, perishable food, or seasonable sporting goods, autos and mobility services are easily shared from person to person. In most cases, humans can interchange seats or vehicles as easily as they change their daily outfits.
  7. Positive sustainability impacts. Investors like Structure Capital, Collaborative Fund, and Sherpa Ventures have shared their investment thesis in the world demonstrating their commitment to reducing waste, making the world more efficient, or helping communities.
  8. Extends value to other industries. The transportation space isn’t limited to just the value of cars or taxis, but extends its impact to many other industries, including: 1) Logistics, shipping, and storage; 2) Personal services like retail delivery, home cleaning, and other on-demand services; and 3) Impact traditional car loans, insurance, and more.
  9. VCs are likely to fund competitors. Venture capitalists are pressured to have an appropriately rounded investment portfolio to match their thesis. When one VC firm funds Lyft, the other investors need to round out their portfolio, meaning they’ll fund Lyft’s competitor to ensure they don’t miss a trend.
  10. Immediate revenue generation. If there’s one thing that makes this category so attractive to investors, it’s that each transaction generates 10-15% cash flow to the tech startup. Unlike struggling social media startups who are still searching for their revenue models, this market generates direct revenues for every transaction –- with low costs.

This is just the start of the shared transportation space.
Other players like Google are expected to enter this space; telecom companies like Verizon have launched auto sharing applications; and BMW (client), Daimler, Ford and others have launched car sharing programs, which all spur the movement forward. Furthermore, self-driving cars are being produced by Uber, with their recent acquisition of over 50 CMU professors to build said self-driving cars. With Apple, Google, Tesla, and other Silicon Valley heavy hitters building autonomous vehicles, they will no doubt make them available as shared services, where you can have a vehicle fetch you –- instead of you having to own one.

Read more on the next phase, how self-driving cars will disrupt the crowd, here. The funding in this market is just setting the stage for much larger disruptions on the horizon.


(Creative commons image from Franganillo)

Ten Ways Mobility-as-a-Service Changes Your Lifestyle


Just about everything related to transportation is now becoming automated, on demand, or available to borrow.

Over a few short years, an abundance of VC-funded apps have emerged that crowdsource just about every aspect for transportation, car management, and more. The Collaborative Economy has a branch of commerce that’s being dubbed the on-demand economy. Most of these apps are related to transportation, personal services, or logistics.

The transportation sector is the most funded industry in the Collaborative Economy.
In my ongoing studies of tracking market funding of this market, the transportation sector has received the most funding, over $14B, out-funding all other industries. The lion’s share going to ride-sharing apps like China’s Didi, India’s Ola, and America’s Uber; yet there are hundreds of other business models emerging that are related to other aspects of car ownership, car management, and cars as a service.

Here are just ten examples, most which I have used:

  1. New cars come to you. Rather than go to a dealership to test drive a car, Tesla brought a test drive car to my front door with a friendly sales associate. They let me test drive the vehicle without having to leave my own neighborhood block.
  2. Auto repair comes to you. A local Silicon Valley auto repair company reminded me of my car maintenance schedule. When I agreed, an account associate came to my house in a loaner car and swapped it out for my vehicle. They later returned my car repaired and tuned up.
  3. You  rent out your idle car, generating money. This was the first time a stranger drove off with my family vehicle. I listed an idle car on RelayRide and a European college student borrowed it for the weekend. I generated a bit of cash from an idle, depreciating asset.
  4. You don’t have to own a car to drive a car. There are many services in which you can borrow a peer’s car such as Getaround or RelayRides from other owners. Or, there are a variety of short-term car rental companies like Zipcar, BMWDriveNow, and in some cities, Car2Go.
  5. You don’t need long-term car insurance. In many urban cities, car ownership is diminishing and with that, so is long-term car insurance. If you’re only going to borrow a vehicle for a day or a few hours, now you can be covered with fractional insurance from MetroMile.
  6. Borrowing cars is a breeze, so you can rideshare. We’ve all heard of Lyft and Uber drivers generating revenue from their idle time – but what if you don’t have a car? Breeze enables fractional ownership so nearly anyone can use one of their vehicles and start generating revenue as a driver.
  7. You don’t have to park your own car. SF is dense, traffic is congested, and parking is around $25 a day. When I drive to the city, rather than park my own car, Luxe, Carbon or Zirx will park my car for me, all done via their apps, for $15. Read about my experience using Luxe.
  8. Car washes come to you. I used Luxe and a valet fetched my car at a push of a button on an app, saving me time, frustration, and money. They also offer a $40 car wash service (local prices are approximately $30), and they brought my car back to me at the end of the day, spic and span, saving me time.
  9. Gas stations come to you. The latest set of apps include Purple (LA) and Filld (SF), a service where the gasoline is brought to your parked car in under three hours, for less than a $5 fee. Why go to a gas station? It now comes to you. There’s an interesting discussion of the pros and cons on my feed.
  10. You don’t even need to own a car. Most of the time, I don’t even drive to congested SF. A Lyft or Uber fetches me while I get work done on my laptop connected to a Mifi. This saves me time, reduces frustration, lowers parking woes, and increases productivity. However, living in an SF suburb, car ownership is still a necessity.

Emerging industry has limitations; shakeout looms. 
In just three years, my lifestyle around transportation and car management, has radically changed to become faster, more efficient, and more productive. This, of course, comes at a cost; hard-earned money is traded for convenience. The jury is still out on the environmental sustainability of some of these services. Not all of these startups can survive; there are too many players in each category, many are over-funded by VCs,and most startups aren’t generating a profit. All of these are signs for the inevitable shakeout for the dominant players to emerge.

Spawned in Silicon Valley but spreading to a driveway near you.
Living in Silicon Valley is a bubble. Attitudes toward adoption are friendly, it’s a test-ground for new technologies and services, and the culture and environment is not representative of any other culture. One thing is for sure, that the best of breed technologies quickly spread to other cities at a rapid pace, through mobile devices. At one time, disbelievers of social media proclaimed it was only for Silicon Valley techies, but it has quickly spread over the global internet.

More disruption ahead as self-driving cars emerge in a few short years.
What’s next for mobility? We’re in a transition phase, as most of the apps and services listed above will be disrupted as self-driving cars emerge from most car manufactures by approximately 2020, just five years away or sooner. I’ve documented the multiple disruptions and opportunities that will emerge when self-driving cars join the mainstream.

(Photo from Pexels. BMW is a customer of my company, Crowd Companies)