Tag Archives: Collaborative Consumption

Sharing is Caring – Living and Vacationing on Collaborative Consumption

I was planning on doing another entry on Collaborative Consumption a couple weeks ago, but took a spontaneous vacation instead. I was offline for about two weeks.

Because I planned my getaway literally as I was going and didn’t want to spend too much money, I naturally turned to collaborative consumption.

Question: Can I find a place cheap place to stay at the last minute? Answer: Yes!

Question: Can I offer rides and get people to pay for my gas? Answer: Of course!

Question: Can I find a place to stay for FREE? Answer: Yup!

Question: Can I find work during my vacation to make some money? Answer: Absolutely!

During my vacation I stayed free on people’s spare beds and couch through Couchsurfing.

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When I was just passing through and not staying at that city, I used AirBnB.

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I spent about $350 during my trip that lasted 11 days. That’s less than $32 a night. I was in five cities and two countries. Not bad, right?

What was great about AirBnB was that I was able to look through a lot of rooms on my phone and get real-time feedback from the listers. I was able to see the pictures of the very room I would be staying at and compare my options. I could have done this through hotel apps, but communicating with the hotels via a centralized messaging system would have been impossible.

Real-time booking with real-time feedback = Quickest way to find a place to stay for cheap.

One of the better places I stayed at had access to a private beach. It had everything I needed, including a kitchen, mountain bikes, canoes, and a super comfortable pillow top bed. Check out the view!

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On my way up the pacific northwest coast, I had the opportunity to pick up a few passengers through RideJoy. It took a few back-and-forth, but there was definitely a community of riders looking to hitch a ride. I ultimately decided to do my drive alone because I thought it would be more relaxing that way.

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That said, had I taken three to four passengers that were interested in riding with me, I would have made about $260. That would have more than paid for my gas! Ironically, I picked up two hitchhikers on my way back.

hitchhiker A word of advice to those who are considering picking up hitchhikers: Make sure you check that they aren’t armed before you let them in your car. One of the men I picked up had an eight-inch blade on his belt that I didn’t notice until he hopped in my car. That kept me alert the whole two hours he was in my car!

When I was in Seattle, I had the opportunity to drive SideCar. I even turned on my driver app, but ultimately ended up not driving. I did take a SideCar to go somewhere though and had a friendly chat with the driver. He said that the demand there was pretty good.

Why didn’t I drive SideCar up in Seattle? Well, for one thing, I was on vacation. But, really, I didn’t feel comfortable driving in a city where I didn’t know any of the roads. My point is that, if I wanted to, I could have easily done it.

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Think about it. This changes everything. Someone could move to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or any of the cities where SideCar operates and start working immediately provided that they have been approved by SideCar.

Collaborative consumption create a very mobile and flexible workforce. It could be a great solution to unemployment and underemployment.

In San Francisco, I average about $25 to $30 an hour when driving SideCar. If I had driven about five hours in Seattle and had given rides up and down the Pacific northwest coast, I would have made about $400. Considering I spent about $350 on AirBnB, this means I would have made money on my vacation (not including food). 

images-2Back to Couchsurfing. I love this site. I absolutely recommend it, not only because it’s a way to find a place to stay for free, but also because it helps you to explore a new city with someone who already lives there. It’s like getting a free place to stay as well as a free tour guide if your host is willing to show you around. This is the epitome of the concept of “sharing is caring.”

In my last blog entry, I talked about InstaCart. I think Seattle, where I spent a few days, would be a great place for InstaCart. The locals told me that the City has seen an influx of young professionals lately. They say that there is a growing number of tech start-ups and that Google, Microsoft, Boeing, and Amazon are hiring aggressively.

Young urban professionals who are tech-savvy? It seems like Seattle would be a natural expansion point. In fact, I saw Safeway and Whole Foods delivery trucks several times while I was there.

growthI am not sure what InstaCart’s expansion strategy is, but it seems logical to me that it should partner with new condos, apartments, and even companies to  drive mass-adoption. For example, if you live in ABC apartments or work for Company XYZ, you get a code that gives you a discount or a Y number of free deliveries to get you to try out the app.

In an interview I read about InstaCart, its founder Apoorva Mehta said, “The hardest thing is the logistics of people, and managing quality of service on a collaborative consumption model.” Deliveries to the same location (apartment or company) would help with logistics, which seems to be one of key points to InstaCart’s success.

What’s my conclusion?

Collaborative consumption provides a whole new way of consuming and working. It allows people to quickly rent out their homes. It allows people like me to spontaneously book rooms without having to make a reservation a week in advance.

Collaborative consumption allows ultimate job flexibility. I could’ve easily turned on my driver app and made a few hundred dollars or given rides to offset the cost of my gas. I could have turned on my shopper app when I had two hours of down time to do some grocery shopping (that is, had InstaCart been active in Seattle).

We all have idle inventory, whether it’s a spare bedroom (AirBnB), a car (SideCar or RideJoy), or a few few hours of free time (InstaCart). Maximizing the utilization of these unused resources deliverers convenience for the consumers and wealth for the suppliers.

Sharing is Caring – Living on Collaborative Consumption

I don’t know how many posts I’ll write on this topic, but I want to share a bit about my current research on collaborative consumption (I’m using this term broadly).

I signed up for Lyft, SideCar, TaskRabbit, Instacart, and Exec. I am fascinated with share economy, peer-to-peer services, and collaborative consumption. I am convinced that there is a generational trend among Americans in their 20s-30s, especially the urbanites, to shift from ownership and fixed-schedule to sharing and flexibilty.

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When I told my parents about what I was doing, their initial reaction was, “Uhh… you are giving rides and delivering groceries to random people? Isn’t that dangerous?” But once I explained to them how everything worked, they had an ah-ha moment. My parents aren’t up-to-date on the latest apps or web-based services, but even they see the value of what companies like SideCar, Instacart, and TaskRabbit are. doing.

We, young professionals, are transient. We may live in New York for two years and then move to San Francisco before settling in Chicago 10 years later to raise a family there. On top of that, even if one decided to stay put in one place, he or she is likely way too busy with life to run all their personal errands. Wait for the bus when you are running 10 minutes late? Try to find a cab during rush hour? Forget about it! Let someone else pick up your groceries and dry cleaning and pick you up when you need to get from point A to point B!

So how has it been working out for me? Here are the results by the numbers. I will write more about my experience with each of the companies in my next post.

After two weeks of driving around 82 people through SideCar, I have earned $847.20 in donations. Just a side note: If you take SideCar, please tip your  drivers! Please do not pay less than the suggested amount, especially if you get a car late at night or make multiple stops.

From Instacart, I have earned $209.20 after 12 deliveries. I suck at getting groceries for myself because I never know what to get. After seeing what others buy, I now have a much better idea of what to get for myself! Killing two birds with one stone!

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After hopping around the Bay Area to complete six tasks on TaskRabbit, I have made $203.  I’ll write more about some of the tasks I’ve run in my next post, but here is a picture of a task that required me to pack lunches for 40 school-aged kids. In the process of writing this, I got assigned to this task again, except that this time I need to pack for 70 kids! Naturally, I am being paid more for the task. Score!

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So, after having worked part-time for 13 days, I have made $1259.40.

I have not been fully approved for Lyft yet and have not finished my application process for Exec. I intend to sign up for Getaround as well. I am basically doing everything related to collaborative consumption, except for AirBnB since I live in a studio.

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(I want my own pink mustache!)

Now, I am not doing random tasks and driving people around SF only to make a few dollars. If I wanted to make money, I would probably start playing poker again, as my average hourly profit at a casino is about $50.  Or, I could just teach GMAT for $80-$100 an hour. After all, I did relatively well on the GMAT and have an MBA from a top 10 school to prove it. But I wouldn’t learn anything useful doing those things.

This is a great way for me to learn how these companies in the collaborative consumption space and peer-to-peer services operate from the ground-up. In a way, I am investing in myself through this experience.

I have learned a lot already and have suggestions for improvement for all three companies. I also have thoughts on how one making a living through these services could maximize his or her profit. More on that in my next post…

If you need help with some errands, look me up on TaskRabbit: www.taskrabbit.com/jonathanlee00! Unfortunately, you can’t ask for me specifically on Instacart, but I generally work during the day on weekdays. Tips are of course appreciated, and don’t worry I won’t blog about what weird things you may order. I’ll just laugh at you. 🙂 As for requesting me on SideCar, well, you can’t do that either, but I’m sure I’ll run into you if you are a frequent user in San Francisco.

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(Aspiring to be the best dressed SideCar driver. See that Foursquare badge?)

There is an entrepreneurial spirit in all of us. The platform the aforementioned companies have provided is great for micro-entrepreneurs. Trust me on this, this is already big and it’s about to get ginormous!

Be on the look out for my next post. I have some interesting stories to share from my rides and deliveries!

By: Jonathan Lee
Twitter:  @hi5at5