Peer-to-peer product service systems
Sustainability advocates generally love the product service system model because, in theory, it reduces consumption, and provides the owners of the products with incentives to maintain those items for as long as possible. You may associate this business model with movie rental (Netflix) or car-sharing (Zipcar), but the types of products offered on a “rental” model continues to grow: designer handbags and dresses, for instance, are now available in this manner.
Several start-up, however, are taking the product service system beyond a business-to-consumer relationship, and offering individuals the opportunity to make a little cash by providing needed items on a short-term basis for a small fee. A couple I’ve just come across:
- Rentalic: Need a wheelbarrow for a job around the house? Seems kind of silly to buy one if you won’t use it regularly, but do you really want to keep bugging your neighbor for his or hers? That exact situation inspired Punsri Abeywickrema to launch Rentalic, “an innovative web platform that enables person-to-person renting between friends, family, and communities.” Need a tool? A baby carriage? A DVD copy of MR & MRS SMITH? They’re all available from other people willing to rent them out. Neighborgoods works on a similar model.
- RelayRides: This one isn’t yet off the ground, but when it launches in Baltimore, RelayRides claims it will be the first person-to-person car sharing service. Got a car that sits idle for periods of time? This service allows you to rent it out. You won’t even have to meet renter to give them keys: RelayRides will have a mechanic install a device that allows them to access the vehicle. They also provide insurance for the times when someone else is driving the car, and check the background of potential renters.
While peer-to-peer networks are nothing new (think Kiva or Freecycle), I’m almost certain combining it with the product service system is. Know of other companies doing this? Let us know about them…