While at OuiShare Fest, I met many entrepreneurs from variety of startups/companies, from small organizations to larger incumbents like Airbnb. Throughout the next few weeks I’ll be featuring some of these collcons organizations. Here’s a company involved in home swapping — Knok.

“Knok is one of the many companies that has joined the collaborative consumption movement and offers a platform where members from different parts of the world can find each other and agree on a home exchange for their vacations. With Knok, members can meet families from all over the world and decide to swap each other’s homes for a short period of time and save up to thousands of dollars. With home exchange, families can enjoy the space and the amenities of a home rather than a hotel room,  experience a city like a true local, and soak in a new culture and make friends with locals. The concept of home swapping truly makes the world smaller not only because you get to stay in a comfortable home in a new country, but also because you create new friendships with your home exchange partners leading you to have a network of friends from all over the world.”

intercambio de casas - knok - paris

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Global Sharing Day this Sunday

by Lucy on May 29, 2013

On June 2, our friends from the People Who Share in the UK will be hosting the 2nd Global Sharing Day, with satellite events taking place all over the world focusing on this year’s theme: food. Lots of meal sharing, community building and fun times will be had by all, so be a part of it! We’ve rounded up 5 great ideas to take part in meal sharing this coming Sunday and 6 great food organizations based in Toronto:

Meal sharing ideas:

  1. Host a dinner party/get together at your house and invite your friends! Next level up is to get your friends to bring a friend you don’t know. If you’re really into the sharing spirit, use a platform like Mealsharing and share a meal with locals and/or travelers in your city.
  2. Have a potluck and get your friends to bring food instead of you cooking it all, for those looking for a little less work 😉
  3. Pack a picnic lunch at the park and enjoy the outdoors. Great for family outings with one or more families. Check out BlogTO’s list of the best parks in the city for picnicking.
  4. Go out for a meal with your family or friends. Try out a new place, such as the Depanneur which hosts drop-in dinners, workshops, supper clubs, and a weekend brunch made with local and organic ingredients.
  5. Take a cooking class and then savour your hard work. Fun date idea for couples! Take a look at some listings on Uniiverse here.

Food-related organizations in Toronto:

  1. Not Far from the Tree – Collaborative fruit picking that puts Toronto’s fruit to good use by picking and sharing the bounty
  2. The Stop – Community food centre that strives to increase access to healthy food for all
  3. Cultivate TO – Aims to turn urban backyards into a sustainable source of fresh, organic food
  4. Fresh City Farms – Organic and local produce delivery
  5. Divide and Savour – Food swapping events
  6. Harvest Noon – A space for U of T students and members of the wider community to eat, cook, learn about, and express their love for food

Don’t forget to watch Sharing Economy TV for live feeds of meal sharing events around the world and tweet with hashtag #GlobalSharingDay to spread the word and share your stories! Enjoy! Nom nom nom


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We recently received an email from Web Thrift Store, a website that turns people’s excess stuff (like electronics, art, clothing, jewelry) into cash for charities, a tax deduction for the donor, and a bargain for the buyer.

Here’s how it works:

“Any nonprofit can start a “virtual” thrift store without holding inventory, and with zero financial risk. When a supporter lists an item they’d like to donate, it gets listed in our marketplace, and the proceeds from its sale go to the nonprofit. It’s a way for buyers and sellers to do good, and for charities to engage supporters without asking for money. Donors receive a tax receipt for 100 percent of the value of their item, prepaid shipping labels, free shipping supplies and free pickup from the United States Postal Service.”

Take a look at their video below.

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Recap: OuiShare Fest

by Lucy on May 22, 2013

ouisharefestPhoto from stefanoborghi.com

OuiShare Fest was an amazing event in Paris that brought together thought leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators around the world to discuss collaborative consumption and the sharing economy.

Here are some of my personal insights and notes from the event:

Future of travel

This was a panel featuring representatives from Airbnb, Bedycasa, Knok and Love Home Swap. It was interesting to note that these travel organizations help boost local economies, such as the restaurants and shops that may be located in less touristy areas of big cities.

In terms of key success factors, liquidity is super important, the idea that a user can derive value from the platform whenever they need it. For this, there must be a critical mass of listings in order for users to get the accommodations they were looking for. “Stickiness,” or customer loyalty is also a huge factor in the success of these platforms. Each company has to determine what prevents users from moving from platform to platform and creating barriers to switch.

Surprisingly, Airbnb’s marketing is made up of 60% word of mouth, which they believe to be more reputable than advertisements. We’d agree with this, as hearing from a friend about a new product or service is much more effective than a one-dimensional advertisement.

P2P marketplaces

After hearing from P2P entrepreneurs from companies such as Vide DressingSharetribeAirbnb and Gidsy (now Get Your Guide), the big takeaway with these marketplaces is that user generated content (UGC) is everything. That’s why curation of content is necessary in order to build consistency in the product/service being offered and branding. In addition, the supply side requires much more support in order to create the liquidity and critical mass mentioned previously. All entrepreneurs noted that extra support was provided, whether it was with new Airbnb hosts or with promotions for users to upload their clothing on Vide Dressing.

The speakers also discussed the need to build a community around the platform, which is crucial to reach users. So is viral word of mouth marketing through key innovators and community leaders. They also noted that offline meetings with members helps to “humanize” the site and allows those behind the organizations to get to know the people who are using the platform. At the end of the day, the stories behind the transactions are what people really resonate with.

Michel Bauwens — P2P foundation

Michel Bauwens is one of the founders of the P2P Foundation, “an international organization focused in studying, researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices in a very broad sense.” The website serves as a “knowledge commons,” a perfect term for a website built by collaboration. For him, P2P is all about creating value outside of institutions. He also highlighted an interesting concept, market and non-market approaches to the sharing economy. For example, Airbnb is a for-profit company where they and their users make revenue from accommodation rentals. Couchsurfing is a non-profit B Corporation where the accommodation is free. He raises the question, who takes the risk and who captures the value?

Public policies and the sharing economy

This panel was all about redefining public services and civic engagement by incorporating the sharing economy into local municipalities.

Panelist April Rinne from Collaborative Lab had a lot of insights on what’s already happening around the world. Apparently Seoul in South Korea is set on becoming a “sharing city.” This article goes into more detail, with this excerpt from Seoul’s mayor Park Won-Soon, “the world is paying attention to an economy based on sharing, not possession. By expanding the sharing culture which we used to have in the past, community culture can be revived. It can also help us save social expenses spent for safety and welfare.” Another example from Airbnb is the potential partnership between the p2p giant with the Rio Olympics, allowing local residents to take advantage of the global sports event.

Finally, Bay Share is a organization in San Francisco that connects all sharing organizations in the city. This is a great idea that allows groups to collaborate, share resources and gain more credibility behind a larger over-encompassing group. We would love to have something like this in Toronto and are currently putting together a map of organizations involved in the sharing economy here in Toronto — stay tuned!

Shareable cities

Similar to the panel above, this session was also about the integration of public services and sharing (if you think about it, libraries are a great example of this). Governments can help “incentivize” sharing, working with existing companies/incumbents to make sharing more mainstream.

One socially innovative example brought up by Lauren Anderson of Collaborative Lab is an app from Australia that allows people to take photos of things left on the curb for others to pick up. This saved many items from going to a landfill, and brings together waste management (government),  technological ingenuity and collaborative consumption.

En somme

Tomas Diez from Fablab Barcelona said something that really resonated with me when he referred to collaborative consumption as “high tech/medieval”, which I think describes this movement nicely. Being at OuiShare Fest with hundreds of people passionate about sharing and collaborative living was a fantastic experience. The conference reinforced that this concept is not a fad, but a global shift in the way we live, consume and connect.

See OuiShare’s YouTube channel for speaker interviews and more highlights 🙂


We’ve taken points from Rachel Botsman’s book What’s Mine is Yours and articles from Fast Company and Shareable to consolidate what we believe to be the most important factors for a successful sharing platform:
  1. Value for the user | The user has to derive value from the platform and be willing to pay for the service. The platform should provide a practical and convenient solution for a reasonable price. On the other side of this, for platforms that allow users to make profit off their assets, the profit must outweigh the effort involved.  As well, the items most worth sharing have lots of idling capacity, as the ownership of a product that is used for a just a few minutes makes little rational sense.
  2. Trust between strangers | An environment that facilitates reputation-building allows for trust to be developed between strangers, an important buy-in when getting new users to use the platform. This also helps to build “belief in the commons,” aka a communal give-and-take where every person’s participation creates value for another. Finally, the best platforms feel more like a community than simply a marketplace.
  3. Critical mass | There must be variety in selection and easy accessibility, providing the user with enough choice so that he/she is satisfied with what’s available. This is specially important for P2P marketplaces to ensure that users are able to find what they need. To reach this tipping point, marketing to the right channels, word of mouth and community advocates/leaders can help substantially. Critical mass also helps in getting potential users to make the switch over from shopping to sharing.
We believe that 1 is the most important, as a platform may have a great reputation system and lots of interested people, but if it’s not solving a problem that people are willing to pay for, it won’t succeed. See Adam Berk’s article on this for more insights. 2 and 3 kind of come as a package, as they both facilitate a well-developed system of getting what you need from people you can trust. Let us know your thoughts and other factors we may have missed.




Upcoming Collaborative Consumption Events

by Lucy on April 22, 2013

The next few weeks will be an exciting time for the sharing economy. 3 global conferences about collaborative consumption in 3 great cities — San Francisco, Paris and London.

mesh2013San Francisco | April 24-25

mesh2013 brings together the instigators— entrepreneurs, designers, city planners, engineers, city gov’t provocateurs, engineers, makers, artists, proto-typers and all doers — those actively building products, services, policies, and communities. We are experimenting relentlessly with new forms of access, openness, funding, business models, delight delivery all enriching our world. It’s time to rethink and re-emerge, together.”











Paris | May 2-4

The first major European event dedicated to the collaborative economy. This three-day festival will bring together a global community of entrepreneurs, designers, makers, economists, investors, politicians and citizens to build a collaborative future.

Not just another business conference. Co-designed with its community, OuiShare Fest will feature a wide range of hands-on activities and great live music.”

We will be attending OuiShare Fest, representing Unstash and collaborative consumption in Toronto/Canada! We’re super excited and will be sharing ideas, stories and insights from the conference.






London | May 10

“Join us on the 10th of May for a one-day conference themed on ‘the economy of sharing‘. This event is the first one in Europe to showcase how technology is allowing people and businesses to move away from ‘asset ownershiptoresource access‘ – a more efficient, democratic and sustainable economic model. Join us for a discussion and celebration of collaborative consumption, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and a whole host of entrepreneurs and visionaries ready to shape the world of tomorrow.”


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