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The Shared Economy - some valuable shared insight
by Startacus Admin
A couple of weeks ago we ran a fab competition to win a ticket to the Share Summit in London, a one day event focusing on the shared economy.
In the spirit of all things sharing, winner of said comp Ben Byford was asked to share some valuable insight on his experience of all the key happenings and debate, and most importantly what he took away from the event. Over to Ben to share all...
It became apparent early in proceedings that there were several interpretations of the sharing economy. To start proceedings, Benita Matofska introduced the afternoon in an almost un-conference fashion (where participators rule instead of the organisers) giving us reign to ask questions and add our own experiences to the conversation. She illustrated the benefits and progress that her business and businesses around the world were having with networked sharing business propositions. Co-operatives who are getting involved are “Future proofing their businesses”. We were told that a Deloitte study said that sharing companies are more profitable than non sharing.
But what are sharing companies?
The roster of speakers portrays internet based companies that use network technology as a means to centralise what might already exist on a local scale (say in local classified ads) or in new ways to create a community around a purpose, activity, or utility. The activities of couch surfing, spare room rental and car sharing illustrates what one might think of as a sharing economy business proposition, but it was clear by the other participants that many more business ideas are sprouting from each sector and also companion services.
Astonishingly, as well as company directors being in attendance, there were insurers, lawyers, loan agencies, privacy experts and government representatives. The sharing economy seemed to be building interest from third party services to support ideas. Does one need to be verified to use a service? Did the government need powers to investigate foul play? How could your data be stolen or fraud be detected? The playground of these supplementary services and the powers they are given are still kind of up for debate.
It was stressed by one of the speakers that sharing in business wasn’t a new activity, and secondly that the sharing economy wasn’t a new sector in itself but a term that could be used for any business in any sector. Consumer education was also mentioned as currently lacking in marketing activity. Much like green or low carbon slogans have gained traction, sharing businesses should be using their community/social or green credentials to attract customers (or participators one could say).
After the introduction, two round table discussions and two coffee breaks the afternoon was over. There had been discussion on the new review and how old legislation should be updated in this networked economy. There was very sound advice alluding to tax reform to enable SMEs to start a company and do their own taxes easier. Since there has been a recent focus on entrepreneurship in the media and in education I’m surprised that this hasn’t already been achieved.
There was also advice for entrepreneurs that investors are, or at least should be, looking at “the balance sheet of life” when making their investments. Does that company have a strong proposition and a thought out plan / market? But also does the business benefit human beings in a green and social way? Does it empower, enable, adapt or build on anything, for example. And perhaps this really was the mantra for the day, given in Benita’s intro: “Adapt, enable, buy, build. Businesses should see themselves as a part of a larger community that they are able to empower."
Cheers Ben and thank you for your valuable insight. You can follow Ben Byford on Twitter too.