Monday, July 28, 2014
Blogs SF Gate: "nine marketplaces that help people make money off their spare time, goods or services are Silicon Valley's latest craze. Airbnb, which lets people rent rooms or apartments to travelers, is a pioneer in this movement, called the sharing economy.
Now a San Francisco company called Near Me offers a "just-add-water" software platform for companies large and small that want to create their own sharing economy marketplace. Near Me sells the ability to create the Airbnb for anything.
Canal boats in Amsterdam, dog-sitters in New Zealand, and golf clubs and golf lessons in South Carolina are among the markets Near Me has powered, said co-founder and CEO Michelle Regner.
"What they're doing gives companies the opportunity to craft their own great experiences," said Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Crowd Companies, an association for enterprises interested in the collaborative economy. "Something similar happened 15 year ago during the rise of MySpace and Friendster. A bunch of companies emerged that let other companies host their own version of social networks. Now we're seeing that pattern repeat itself with sharing marketplaces."
Says CEO Michelle Regner in her recent blog post, "Sharing platforms like Lyft, TaskRabbit, DesksNear.Me and GetAround can satisfy our needs with quick solutions. Using these tools has freed me to be involved with my business, spend more time with my child and earn some extra money all at once. I can assign projects on TaskRabbit, work out of a remote desk space using DesksNear.Me, all while renting my car on GetAround when I’m not using it. I end up using what’s available to make my life and the lives of those around me - better. But I’m not just interacting with a computer. I’m interacting with real people. And people are the heart of the sharing economy.
The sharing economy uses the basic concept of “needs” and “haves,” bringing the concept of “needing” one another to the forefront, connecting people that would have never been connected. Human interaction is being digitally reintroduced in a much more powerful way—connecting a family from Ireland to an art designer in San Francisco who shares their home on the weekends."
Near Me, which so far has been backed by its co-founders, hopes to raise its first round of funding shortly, a relatively small infusion of up to $3 million. That will let it move its 14 employees out of a cramped 900-square-foot space in the South of Market neighborhood. Meanwhile, one day a month it uses Desks Near Me to rent "a bigger, more amazing space" as a change of pace.