by Jack Robinson

‘Shareconomy’ has a good ring to it.

Joining the apparently distant concepts of ‘sharing’ and the ‘economy’ creates the perception of people interacting with mutual benefits and trust. It’s a buzzword that has really taken off, and is now even recognised by the UK Government in their budgets. But how well does the term describe the disruption we are seeing in the transport sector?

Looking through the amazing 300+ solutions featured on our new Global Opportunity Explorer, there are great examples of companies using digital technologies to create peer-to-peer marketplaces. Since first being featured in the Sustainia100 publications, a handful of these solutions have experienced incredible growth over very short timescales, especially those in the transport sector.

Ridesharing reduces the need for car ownership in the population and makes it less burdensome and greener for those who can’t live without a car. That’s the power of sharing.

Frédéric Mazzella – CEO, BlaBlaCar

The high cost and generally low usage of private vehicles make them ideal candidates for the shareconomy. By either renting out a private car or offering space for extra passengers (also called ridesharing), a triple-win scenario is created. The vehicle owner reduces their ownership costs, the user gets access to competitively-priced transport and the ridesharing platform takes some profit for facilitating the transaction.

In our 2014 S100 publication we featured Bla Bla Car, a French company who were one of the first to develop and successfully scale ridesharing for long-distance journeys as a way to reduce costs and total vehicle emissions. People offering rides list their travel plans and number of extra spaces in their car on the marketplace, and travellers with the same journey plans can then apply for a seat. Back in 2014, they had around 7 million users and operated in 12 countries across the EU. Since then, the company has received more funding, expanded into 22 countries, and now has over 40 million users: a staggering increase of around 475%.

Drivy is another French company exploiting the preference for access over ownership to car transport, but operates with a slightly different business model to Bla Bla Car. The company allows users to rent privately-owned cars via an Airbnb-esque platform, which features location, prices, review functionality and customisable profiles. Since starting in 2010, they are now operating in five European countries with over one million members.

This access economy for rides has even extended beyond cars. Spinlister is a trendy new platform that allows users to rent out their bicycles, surfboards or ski equipment – items which can often sit idle in garages or lofts. Cool fixies in Copenhagen, paddle-boards in California or a set of custom skis in Vancouver await users looking for outdoor thrills.

These examples show that the concept of the ‘shareconomy’ is constantly morphing. Preferences for experiences over ownership, particularly in younger generations, has led to the shareconomy becoming more of an ‘access economy’, where sharing in its purest sense is limited. As these disruptive apps and digital marketplaces grow and diversify, the transport shareconomy will surely continue its surge, even if the name is a bit of a misnomer.