Start-Ups

10 sharing economy underdogs you should know

There are hundreds of startups in the sharing economy and collaborative consumption industry. Here are 10 you might not have considered.

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Image: StillFX/iStock

The sharing economy, or collaborative economy, or peer-to-peer consumption — however you want to phrase it — is transforming the way we relate to one another and is starting to shift our economy. By now, most of us are familiar with the main players — companies like Airbnb, Lyft, Feastly, and TaskRabbit. But, there are many startups that go unnoticed, even though they are faithfully displaying the mission of the collaborative economy.

Here are 10 sharing economy startups that are making strides in the industry.

SEE: We-commerce: The sharing economy's uncertain path to changing the world

1. Skillshare

Skillshare offers a different approach to collaborative education. With this website, users can pay $10 a month for a subscription to thousands of online courses in business, design, fashion, photography, video, and more. The founders are trying to reinvent the education system, from the ground up. Anyone can teach at Skillshare, they just have to fill out this application.

2. Getaround

Use Getaround to search for cars in your area that you can rent hourly or daily. All rentals include insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance. You simply sign up with your smartphone and find cars (if you're a renter) or jobs (if you're a driver) through the app. The company reports that every car on Getaround takes 10 cars off the road,and the service is available in several cities in the US.

3. TimeBank

TimeBanks USA is nothing new — the service was formed in 1995 — but it's a fresh way to look at sharing economy companies. People trade their skills in whatever field for someone else's skills in another area. For instance, they exchange time as a tutor, maid, tour guide, babysitter, chef, or otherwise. The organization is trying to start a movement, promoting timebanking in cities around the world.

4. Open Shed

"Why buy when you can share?" is the tagline for this collaborative consumption company, which is based in Australia. Use the website to search for tools, electronics, or camping gear that you can buy, rent, or borrow from people in your area. For instance, rent this projector for $20 a day or $50 a week. It's a novel idea to give people access to tools that are often only needed one time or in specific situations.

5. Pivot Desk

Find and share office space with Pivot Desk. This company was created for small startups and teams to find spaces to work with month-to-month contracts. The spaces are available in more than a dozen cities and users can also choose specific neighborhoods they want to work in in larger areas such as New York City

6. My Turn

My Turn allows businesses to share assets in order to have a better impact on the environment. This public benefit corporation has a marketplace where people can find products, tools, and office equipment that aren't being used by other companies. To get started donating, businesses, universities, or other organizations can upload their inventories to the cloud platform, look through their inventory, and then manage reservations and rentals for the things that would normally be gathering dust, all through My Turn.

7. PiggyBee

PiggyBee connects people who need to ship something with travelers who are headed to that same destination. It's crowdsourced delivery. Users post an object to send, pick a reward (such as pick-up from airport or a trip upon arrival) and then wait to see who wants to travel. As a traveler, you can simply post what reward you want and where you want to go. Some things that people ship are boxes of clothes, furniture, or food.

8. Vayable

This service aims to redefine the travel experience. Locals volunteer to partner with tourists, serving as historians, tour guides, and friends. The people signing up to take tourists around are often Peace Corps volunteers, journalists, musicians, tour guides, and students — really, anyone can do it. The guides create their own hours and can get paid virtually anywhere around the world.

9. EatWith

EatWith is a service to find locals to share meals with in a variety cities around the world. While most of them are in Europe, the company is constantly expanding. You can book a specific date or contact a host and request a date in advance. For instance, one host in Cape Town is offering a "French country style-dinner" for $34 a person. The couple is offering a choice of three different menus at their home.

10. CasaVersa

CasaVersa is a home-swapping service. It's small, but it's starting to catch on. Users find a person around the world to swap homes with for a vacation. You spend time on the website getting to know the people you will be swapping with, and eventually completely immerse yourself in their world for your stay. Users can charge money upon finalization of the exchanges, or they can use an "IOU" exchange for a later date. The first time costs, but the more you use the service, the cheaper it gets — until it's eventually free. More companies like CasaVersa are emerging as an alternative to Airbnb.

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About

Lyndsey Gilpin is a former Staff Writer for TechRepublic, covering sustainability and entrepreneurship. She's co-author of the book Follow the Geeks.

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