Page 1

Issue 9

SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE The rise and rise of sharing economies ALL PUMPED UP The spectacular growth of spare room rental platform,

COME WORK WITH ME The pros and cons of shared offices

CROWDFUNDING 10 ‘must do’ projects

IN THE NEWS French frackers, smart cars, climate chaos, missing dawns, and other key news from the world of sustainability.

And so much more inside…

WELCOME Many years ago I used to publish a comedy magazine in Singapore. Yeah, I know, half way to funny in itself, but true. It was actually very popular and paid for itself by selling ads, which, generally speaking people paid for with money. Until that is, one of our regular customers, a wholesale beer importer phoned me up to say that he wouldn’t be able to pay his bill on time that month. On account of having used up his cashflow buying a huge amount of beer that he’d been offered at les than half the normal price. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and, just on the offchance, how would I feel about being paid in beer instead?

following morning one of his trucks turned up and offloaded a huge stack of beer at our office, and I can honestly say it was way, way more exciting than receiving a cheque. Over the next few weeks we gradually sold the beer at half price to our readers, who like

cars, seldomly used golf clubs, spare working hours, you name it, they’re sharing it. For more, see our main story about the growth of sharing economies on page 20 entitled, ‘Share and Share Alike’. Plus our normal round up of news from the world of sustainability (page 6), an indepth look at the phenomenal growth of spare room rental site Airbnb (page 42) and a selection of worthy crowdfunding projects and gadgets in our regular closing section ‘The Crowd’, on page 60.

Spare beds, spare seats in cars, seldomly used golf clubs, spare working hours, you name it, they’re sharing it.

What the heck, I thought. He was offering me nearly twice the value of the bill in beer in terms of what it would cost me to buy it at the supermarket, he had some really interesting brands from all over the world, and I’ve always been a sucker for beer. True to his word, the


us were rather thrilled. At the end of the day the ad cost the beer man about a quarter of the cash price, our readers got half price beer and we ended up with our money. Everyone a winner, as 70s disco band Hot Chocolate once so aptly put it.. It was my first experience of what is formally known as barter, but it wasn’t my last. Sharing our spare capacity, which is what we were actually doing, is coming back into fashion in a big way thanks to the internet. Spare beds, spare seats in

It’s been a pleasure sharing our thoughts this month on the subject of sharing, and we’d love to hear from you if yo have any thoughts you’d like to share right back with us. Enough using the word sharing? Yeah, I agree. Until next time. Joe Swain

ABOUT US: 2050 Magazine is all about renewable energy and our journey towards the day when the whole world will have access to cheap, clean, sustainable sources of energy. Something which we think will happen by 2050. As long as we all pull together and do our bit. This is our bit.

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CONTENTS 6 Sustainability News

20 Share and Share Alike 40 Using is the New Having 42 The Airbnb Story 48 A Matter of Trust 50 Come Work With Me 60 The Crowd









Depth of support for peer-centred sharing economies on show in car sharing test case Being billed the ‘Last Stand in Seattle’, the fight between Seattle City Council and its burgeoning ride sharing movement has stepped up a gear as, a memberdriven organization that supports the sharing economy movement, rallied in support. The Council is currently considering passing new regulatory legislation which will make car sharing illegal, but has been caught off-guard by the depth of opposition to their plans from the general public.


Hundreds of Peers members from the area joined forces with other ride-sharing advocates on the steps of Seattle City Hall to make the council aware that they want to see more sharing – not less – in their city. Peers members ChrisTiana Obey and Ben Nimmons spoke at the rally, along with John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft, and Alex Lofton, a committed Peers leader. The message at the rally was clear: Seattle should save ridesharing. If the current rules on the table pass, many people

will be unable to continue — a big setback for the thousands who have come to depend on the sharing economy to get around. “We believe in smart regulations,” said Lofton. “Peers members are fighting for rules that are fair, safe, and will allow innovation and transportation options to flourish. In cities everywhere, as we transition to a society that owns less and shares more, we need more transportation options, not less.”

EU 2030 CLIMATE GOALS PROPOSED European Commission targets: 40% emissions reduction and 27% Renewables production by 2030 After tough debate between member states, the EC has proposed binding targets for reductions in CO2 emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels. This will be achieved by “domestic measures alone� and not offsetting with credits from other countries.

Also included is a 27% target for renewable energy production: some countries such as the UK and Poland had argued for more flexibility and while this is binding at an EU level, no individual state targets are set. Pressure groups were disappointed that the energy efficiency target for 2030 of

a 25% improvement is only indicative and that targets for emissions from fuels will be dropped. The proposals will need to be approved by member states and European Parliament before implementation. Source: theguardian,


THERE MAY BE TROUBLE AHEAD... New research predicts extreme weather events every 10 years instead of every 20 El Ni単o is the warm phase of a natural climate cycle in the pacific; the shift in distribution of warmer water influences rain and storms around the world. Global warming will cause the sea temperatures to rise making it easier for an extreme el Ni単o event to occur. Historically the researchers focussed on modelling potential sea temperature rises, but this work was inconclusive. However, a new study from CSIRO, an Australian government body, defined an


extreme el Ni単o by its associated effects: an increase in rainfall by a factor of 10. The results showed a likely increase of extreme events to every 10 years (from 20). Whilst in some areas an increase in rainfall may be welcomed, previous extreme el Ni単o events have brought devastating droughts, wildfires and flooding to nations on the Pacific Rim. . Source:

Image: February 8th 1983, a massive reddish-brown cloud advanced on the city of Melbourne. The dust storm was a consequence of devastating droughts induced by the extreme El Nino of 1982/83. The frequency of such extreme El Nino events occurring in the future as the Earth’s climate warms further is predicted to double [Credit: Australia Bureau of Meteorology/Trevor Farrar]




Chemical spill leaves 300,000 without water in West Virginia Up to 5,000 gallons of the chemical used in the washing of coal, was released into the Elk River from a facility 1 mile upsteam from the state´s biggest water processing plant. The governor declared a disaster; banned tap water use and the National Guard arranged to hand out bottled water. The ban affected not only residential use, but restaurants, hospitals and nursing homes. Clean


water was flushed through the system but it wasn´t until 10 days later that the ban was fully lifted. The responsible site had not been inspected since 1991: after the spill, its owner filed for bankruptcy protection. Source,,


ALREADY SMART Study shows electric cars’ compatibility with electric grids

Negative comment around electric cars has feared that the electric grid will not be able to cope with the increased levels of demand and would require restructuring and upgrade. A report from Navigant Research shows that this is a misconception stemming from a misunderstanding of the actual energy consumption of electric cars. 12,000 miles a year usage would add about a third to home electricity demand requiring only minor grid upgrades: this has already happened to much of the grid due to demand from air-conditioning. Furthermore, as cars are not charged during peak times, the increase in load is small. Data from current levels of electric car use has confirmed their limited impact on the grid. Source:



PLANTING THE FUTURE African plant breeding academy established in Kenya A new centre in Nairobi will first train 250 scientists and then sequence the genomes of “orphan crops”: native African plant varieties historically ignored by science. 101 food crops have been identified with the goal of improving pestresistance, nutrition and yield. They will then be offered to smallholder farmers across the continent. Advanced genomic techniques will be used for selection, but genetic modification will not. The data will be freely available and no intellectual property protection will be taken. The Academy is an initiative of the African Orphan Crops Consortium – a broad grouping of government agencies, companies, NGOs, scientists from the US, Africa, Europe and China. Source:


GET A REAL TASTE OF SPAIN EATWITH A LOCAL Discover the most delicious foodie community in the world PAGE 13



First ever global analysis shows a quarter of the world’s rays and sharks at risk of extinction An update to the International Union of Conservation and Nature´s “Red List” shows that rays, sharks and chimera (another type of cartilaginous fish) face a higher risk of extinction than other animals: only 23% of species can be categorised as safe.


A great part of the threat is unintentional (eg. in shallow waters where they are entangled in fishing nets), however, sharks and rays are increasingly targeted for commerce (particularly for shark fin soup, but also for medicinal products) and where they are seen as a threat to humans and fishing activities.

The threat of depletion is particularly elevated in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Thailand, with the Red Sea also home to a number of endangered species. Source:

Entrepreneurship leads to endless opportunities for those ready to grasp them.

Step forward. Start. PAGE 15

accelerator - academy - answers - impact - campus - spaces


Sunrise screened in Tianamen Square

With smog recently reducing visibility in the capital to a few hundred metres, the only way Biejing residents had to see the sun rise was on a huge LED screen. The New Year brought increased pollution levels: Beijing partille levels were measured at 26 times World Heath Authority safe levels, while in the Nothern city of Harbin these touched 50 times. In China, environmental concerns have long been sacrificed for economic growth and air quality in cities is frequently poor: particularly in winter when stagnant air patterns combine with increased winter coal burning. Source:


FRENCH FRACKERS First oil major enters UK shale gas market French oil company, Total, has announced a deal with an existing player to spend up to USD50m in developing existing and new shale gas exploration licences in England. The news is seen as a starting gun for accelerated development of the industry with the UK’s Energy Minster expecting 20-40 shale gas exploration sites to be drilled in England in the next two years.

Greenpeace accused the central government of “bribery” as it was expected to allow local authorities to keep all business rates (taxes): incentives of GBP100,000 and 1% of revenues were previously announced. The success of the fracking industry is not certain, but proponents claim that if 10% of estimated reserves can be extracted, they would cover UK demand for the next 50 years. Source:



COLONIAL COLLAPSE Chemical cocktail causes bee colony collapse In the last 6 years, an estimated 10million beehives have been wiped out in the US by Colony Collapse Disorder where the entire hive dies at once. Bees are vital to agricultural production and in the US, the problem has become extreme. For example, it now takes 60% of the surviving colonies to pollinate California’s almonds. A new study by the University of Maryland and the US PAGE 18

Department of Agriculture did not identify the root cause of CCD, but found that a combination of certain pesticides and fungicides that are not individually harmful to bees reduced their resistance to a parasite that causes the problem. This makes the problem more complex as attention will need to be given to how bees are exposed to pesticides and fungicides outside of their

home site and balancing this with the benefits to agricultural production that these chemicals bring. Source:


SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE The rise and rise of sharing economies Improvements in technology, egged on by the effervescent antics of the information revolution, is making it easier than ever for people to rent things to each other. A trend which, because of its integral peer-to-peer characteristics, has given birth (or more accurately perhaps ‘breathed life into’) the term ‘sharing economies’. But is all this ‘sharing’ just a short-term reaction to the global financial crisis, or the beginning of a whole new way of doing things? Joe Swain investigates. The old story goes that a recently deceased man is being accompanied to Heaven by an angel. The angel surprises the man by asking him if he would like to have a quick look at Hell before they hop into the gilded swan chariot for the final leg of their celestial journey. The man agrees and is surprised to be shown to an enormous banqueting hall where the tables are heavy with delicious food and large bottles of the house wine, a cheeky little Spanish rioja. More surprisingly, is that despite all the food, the people of Hell are thin and hungry, and, with the possible exception of a table of supermodels, desperately unhappy. The angel explains that while they are allowed to eat as much food as they want, they can only do so with a six-foot long fork. A limitation which sees most of them spending PAGE 20

the remainder of eternity, a little on the bony side. When the man finally gets to Heaven, the angel shows him into another banqueting hall, which turns out to be exactly the same as the one in Hell, its tables also heavy under the weight of a sumptuous feast. But the people in Heaven look well fed, healthy and happy. “Shorter forks?” The man enquires. To which the angel replies, “Actually, no. They’re six feet long just like the ones in Hell. The only difference here is that people feed each other, rather than themselves.” Old ways, new methods Which only goes to show that sharing isn’t a brand new concept, despite what you hear these days about the prolific growth of ‘sharing economies’. Indeed, you don’t even need to be dead to take part.

But it does help if you have something to share, like a spare room, a seat in your car to work, a set of golf clubs you rarely use, a desk in your office, room in your house to look after someone else’s dog for the holidays, a car to rent (that might otherwise spend your holidays in an expensive airport car park), a wi-fi network, an inflatable bouncy castle, or, god forbid, an expensive wedding dress. Everyone’s doing it and not just with things. People are running errands for their neighbours, sharing intellectual copyrights, swapping work hours, and even insuring each other against ill-health. All of which has been made so much easier by the internet, in terms of its ability to match supply with demand (using smartphones, GPS and maps), handle payments (where applicable), and utilize social networks and recommendation systems to solve trust issues. But is all this sharing of spare

capacity and under utilised assets just a flash in the pan reaction to the global economic crisis? Is it here to stay, or will it all just fizzle away once people have more money in their pockets again? Will it be battered down by the inevitable regulatory backlash (“Do you have a permit to rent out that skateboard sir?”)

or will people power force the rules to be changed to accommodate what many people are heralding as a far more resource-efficient way of ‘doing business’.

companies offering platforms to facilitate all this sharing, and the millions of people who have signed up to use them, are certainly evidence of a fairly good start.

State of the market

The most often cited examples perhaps being Airbnb, through whom you can rent out your spare room, and Snappcar or

The rapid growth over the last five years of internet

“Why on Earth would you want to stay in a stranger’s house instead of a perfectly good hotel? Have these people never watched Psycho?” (Thomas Friedman, New York Times) PAGE 21

‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

Wheelz, who will help you find people to rent your car to. These are no Mickey Mouse operations. They boast the sort of opt-in customer networks many larger, more established companies can only dream about. One of the reasons they’ve grown so quickly is that all they’ve really done is tap into resources that already exist. They’re not buying fleets of cars or building hotels. They’re

simply encouraging ordinary people like you and me to use their network to rent out our spare stuff, and taking a small percentage of the deal for their trouble. And there’s certainly a lot of spare stuff around when you consider that the average car spends 93% of its time parked outside either your house or place of work; or that the average amount of time a power drill is used in a year is

just 13 minutes; or that 75% of all exercise bikes, like mine, would be more aptly described as ‘expensive clothes racks’. Okay, I made that last one up, but I bet it’s not far off the mark. The point being that all that spare stuff has a value. Rachel Botsman, author of ‘What’s Mine Is Yours’, and an authroity on collaborative consumption generally, has calculated that the peer-to-peer rental market

“We couldn’t have existed ten years ago, before Facebook, because people weren’t really into sharing,” says Nate Blecharczyk, one of Airbnb’s founders.

Airbnb’s ‘anyone can do it’ approach has been particularly popular with tech-savvy members PAGE 22

alone is worth $26 billion. One can only assume that when you add in the cars, the golf clubs and the wedding dresses, that value would double or even treble. Again, I’m no economist, but go with me here. Call it what you will A wider definition of the sharing economy could also comprise peer-to-peer lending (although not everyone would view cash as a spare fixed asset), or house owners putting solar panels on their roofs and selling the excess power back to the grid, or barter exchanges in which people directly swap one good or service for another. The one term they all seem to have in common perhaps is ‘spare’. Spare capacity, spare time, spare parts. Other terms used to describe this process include ‘collaborative consumption’, ‘asset-light lifestyles, ‘collaborative economies’, ‘peer economies’, and ‘access economies’. The overall mantra perhaps being that access not ownership is now king. All of which is encouraging people to dust off their ‘things’, sign them up with the appropriate platforms and make a little money back on them when they’re not using them. And what’s wrong with that? There are those who might argue that this is little different from taking in lodgers, running a bed-and-breakfast, owning a timeshare or getting involved in a car pool. But that would be to ignore the powerful effect technology has had in reducing both the hassle factor for participants and their transaction costs. Thereby making everything so much more scalable.

There are several factors behind the growth of sharing economies: 1. Peer-to peer rental systems are often cheaper and easier for renters. 2. Lenders can earn useful extra cash from assets they already own. 3. Paying for access to things that we only want to use occasionally or temporarily is nearly always cheaper than buying them. 4. The rise of the internet has made it ever easier for the exchange platforms to play matchmaker between supply and demand. 5. Smartphones with GPS capability and mapping systems are helping us find those things – be it a cheap room to rent or a set of golf clubs to borrow - when we need them, and where we need them. 6. Social networking groups and selfpolicing recommendation systems are helping to promote the vital ingredient of trust within the systems. 7. The payment side of things is being neatly taken care of by established internet payment routes such as Paypal. 8. Being seen by many as a more ‘sociable’ way of doing business. 9. Being seen by most as environmentally friendly – let’s use what we already have, before we start building new ones.

Another massive difference is the availability now of so much more data about people and things, which effectively PAGE 23

‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

disaggregates physical assets and allows them to be consumed as services (whatever that means, I read it in the Economist). Is it because we’re poor? For those who believe that all this sharing has sprung from austerity, there’s no denying the fact that a large proportion of peer-to-peer

rental firms were formed between 2008 and 2010. When getting your hands on cash for investment was like trying to squeeze blood from a stone, and people in general, their savings dwindling, were scraping around for inventive new ways to pay the gas bill that didn’t involve taking in laundry. (Although now you come to mention it…?)

Indeed, a recent article in the Economist described the growth of sharing economies as “a post-crisis antidote to materialism and overconsumption.” A position supported by Airbnb which claims that its members in San Francisco (where the company started) rent out their homes for an average of 58 nights a year, making

“People are looking to buy services discretely when they need them, instead of owning an asset,” says Jeff Miller, the boss of Wheelz, a peer-to-peer carrental service that operates in California.

Bike sharing schemes are now commonplace in most major cities. PAGE 24 An online service allowing individuals to rent out their spare room, or whole flat to other site members on an occasional and/or temporary basis. Founded in August 2008 and headquartered in San Francisco, Airbnb povides a platform for individuals referred to as “hosts�, generally private parties, to rent unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests. As of September 2013, the company had over 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. Listings include private rooms, entire apartments, castles, boats, manors, tree houses, tipis, igloos, private islands and other properties. Users of the site must register and create a personal online profile before using the site. Every property is associated with a host whose profile includes recommendations by other users, reviews by previous guests, as well as a response rating and private messaging system. As of July 2011, the company has raised $119.8 million in venture funding.


‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

$9,300. RelayCar similarly claims that their car owners make an average of $250 a month with some making as much as $1,000.

business model to genuine sharing, which generally assumes that the assets are ‘spare’ rather than created for the purpose.

All of which makes me start thinking, “Hey, that’s not bad, $1,000 a month. Might be worth buying a car just to rent it out. Or maybe a few, followed by a fleet and we can call it something catchy like ‘Bertz’ and maybe hire space for them at airports…hang on!” (If you get my drift).

“The market will probably go that way a bit,” says James Wilpole, a UK-based market analyst. “We saw the same thing happen with E-bay, which when it started was dominated by ordinary people taking advantage of the new technology, to buy and sell spare things. But now, a few years later, there are far more ‘power sellers’, people who buy in bulk and then use E-bay to sell to the general public, or to other traders. It’s a natural progression and one which

But that’s getting into the realm of asset creation - a collaborative possibility through crowdfunding sites perhaps – but a different

we will likely see affecting the new sharing networks as the big boys realize that while they are competitors to their businesses they can also be used as part of it.” An observation supported by the $13m investment by GM Ventures (the investment arm of America’s biggest carmaker) into Relay Rides in 2011 and Avis’s purchase of Zipcar for $491m in January 2013. Good for the planet Perhaps the second greatest driver after economic incentive, is the fact that in almost all cases, sharing existing assets more efficiently rather than creating more partly used ones, is infinitely more sensible in terms of resources. Or more precisely, our planet’s dwindling resources. A fact most people involved in sharing economies, both as renters and rentees, are aware of. A recent survey revealed that the majority of people who would be prepared to use a sharing website, do so because they think it is an environmentally sound thing to do. As Thomas Friedman put it recently in the New York Times, “Just think how much better all this is for the environment — for people to be renting their spare bedrooms rather than building another Holiday

PAGE 26 A Community lending site. You’ve got stuff, but not all the stuff you need. Dutch startup (and TechStars London’s first cohort member) Peerby, is hoping to unlock the value of that stuff with a collaborative consumption model that allows users to post requests for items they need - a power drill or a lawnmower - from their surrounding community. Peerby claims that 80% of its requests are fulfilled by other Peerby members within 30 minutes of being posted. They maintain that this is because on Peerby, you aren’t dependent on having to find what you’re looking for before you request it.

coverage on things like cars, and group buying mechanics that can enable a whole community to go in together on something everyone in the neighbourhood needs. “We’re going to look at renting, because for a power drill, sure it just lies around and you might as well lend it out,” says Peerby co-founder and CTO Eelke Boezeman. “But if it’s your racing bike, that’s a different story. We’re also maybe looking at subscription. But the key thing is that when I joined Peerby, I never thought this would work. Now, every day we have 25 exchanges, and that’s for a system that people still definitely aren’t used to.” (Original source:

So how do you make money from something that is more successful the more it can encourage people to act somewhat altruistically and spend less money rather than more via sharing with their neighbours? Peerby sees multiple routes to revenue, including premium subscription plans for members who want more, possible rental mechanisms for high-value items, offering insurance


‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

Inn and another and another. ... The sharing economy — watch this space. This is powerful.” Rules and regulations But it’s not all been plain sailing for the new sharing platforms. Airbnb for example are already being forced to fight their corner against those who are suggesting that they are effectively hotels in nature and that they should be subject to all the same rules, regulations and taxes as other hotel operators. And while Airbnb is not responsible for its members tax affairs (if you rent out your spare room, the income

is taxable) they are arguing that its members shouldn’t be regulated in the same way as a Holiday Inn. That the rules need to be changed to take into account the different nature of the business model involved in peer-to-peer rentals. In the same way that a small bed and breakfast establishment is governed by a lesser set of rules than hotel chains. “The sharing economy can create winners and losers, and property owners are winners and hotel owners are losers [in this case],” says Martín Varsavsky, founder of the highly successful wi-fi sharing platform

“Sometimes those who gain are atomised and gain little individually, while those who hurt, hurt a lot, and then organise very well. Those are the forces against sharing.” The response of sharing economy companies encountering obstacles of this sort should be to rally the forces that stand to gain while making the case, wherever possible, that the forces of disruption can be good for ‘traditional’ businesses too,” he says. “In the case of hotel stays versus apartment stays, there have been studies done that have shown there’s a market that hotels don’t address very well. And that is the market

Office sharing is now one of the biggest growth industries around the world.

PAGE 28 An online platform for renting out your own car or renting somebody else’s. The site links up lender and borrower, offering everything between the small Smart to the spacious Mercedes Sprinter. SnappCar ensures that the whole procedure runs smoothly. This above all means payment and insurance. The latter is an important point, as the insurance covers all costs in the event of damage or theft, and automatically covers all vehicles rented out via SnappCar. Along with comprehensive vehicle insurance, liability cover and Europe-wide breakdown assistance are also included. SnappCar also guarantees all due payments. This not only includes the rental charge, but also any surcharges for dirt, delayed return or late cancellation, whether incurred by lender or borrower. Car owners can set their own day prices, as well as the charge per kilometer driven. Interestingly, many owners prefer not to bill for the latter. The rental price includes the SnappCar fee of 10 euros, out of which the company can provide the above-mentioned, comprehensive insurance cover. (Source:


‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

of families with children, for whom hotel stays can be very expensive. So Airbnb fills a niche of families who travel and their presence is actually accretive to the city. For example, the city of Paris studied this and concluded that Airbnb was a good thing, because it’s bringing even more people to Paris overall, and the economy was doing better, while hotels were not really getting hurt.”

“A recent survey revealed that the majority of people who would be prepared to use a sharing website, do so because they think it is an environmentally sound thing to do.”


Sharing economy companies who fail to convince the established players that they add value are likely to become unstuck, adds Varavsky. “With [P2P file-sharing services] Napster and Kazaa, when people started sharing songs in a way where there was no value for the record labels or copyright holders, they fought them like crazy and closed them down. The sharing of music had to come up with a concept more like Spotify, which makes use of the same P2P technology that Kazaa used to use, but it left money aside to pay the record labels – so the model became legal and now it’s a success.” Taxi operations based on sharing principles are also encountering a regulatory backlash from established competitors. (“Miss, miss, they haven’t washed their hands, or done their homework, or got their permits in place, or paid you a small fortune for the privilege of owning a licence,

which, if I remember rightly from our conversation on the golf course, was meant to be a bit more exclusive than this?) Persistent lobbying from whom has already resulted in peer-to-peer operations being banned in several US cities. And under current rules, you can sort of see their point. Insurance requirements Then of course there is the whole issue of insurance. After an ‘incident’ in 2011 in which an Airbnb member’s apartment was trashed by a visitor and her valuables stolen, the company not only decided to compensate her for damages but to also introduce a blanket $1m cover for all future rentals. Peer-to-peer car-rental services are also keen to provide insurance as part of their deals. RelayRides for example, spent 18 months finding an underwriter for the $1m policy that now backs each driver during rentals, although the effectiveness of that cover remains untested A service which allows traveling members to stay at other guest’s homes, on the couch perhaps. Couchsurfing was founded in 2004 and sold to the private for-profit corporation Better World Through Travel in 2011. The website provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event. As of January 2012, the website had 3.6

million members. In March 2013, the website had 6 million members in 100,000 cities worldwide. In August 2012, Couchsurfing closed $15 million in funding from lead investor General Catalyst Partners, with participation by Menlo Ventures and existing investors Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network. The additional funding brings the company’s total funds raised to $22.6 million.


‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

at law. “For many service providers, insurance is a considerable expense and one which the general public expects,” says Wimpole. “Sharing platforms who provide a similar service, even on a peer-to-peer basis, should expect to have to provide something similar and to absorb that cost into their overall business models. None of which will be a death knell for the sector, just a bit of a reminder that rules and regulations aren’t there purely to stifle entrepreneurial enterprise.”

As I can also sympathise with the growing number of residents in cities around the world like Barcelona, Dublin and Amsterdam to name but a few, who are complaining about rowdy bunches of short term renters (or ‘stag parties’ as we used to call them) suddenly gaining access to their previously sedate apartment block, partying all night and vomiting in the lift. All thanks to a pennywise apartment owner on another floor, renting his place out for 50 bucks a throw every time he goes away for the weekend.

Nuisance factor

The danger being that while

some regulations need to be amended to protect both consumers and the general public, incumbents in a capitalist market place do have a tendency to try and destroy their competition. To be fair, the way most companies are set up these days they almost have a legal obligation to their shareholders to attack the opposition, in whatever form it comes. “There are going to be battles, that’s for sure,” says Wimpole. “Those most likely to be damaged by the rise of sharing and renting markets, are bound to fight back where they can and the easiest way

“Collaborative consumption is a natural phenomenon, made so much easier to achieve by recent quantum leaps forward in communications technology.” (James Wimpole) PAGE 32 A car-sharing portal. “What we do is connect cities by creating a new transport network based on empty seats in cars,” says co-founder Nicolas Brusson. Drivers post on the website that they have, for example, three empty seats for their journey from London to Manchester on Friday evening. They set a fee of £15-£20. Passengers get in touch, and pay in the car or via the BlaBlaCar site. “The reason it’s taking off right now is the macroeconomic factors around us. Petrol prices going up, the cost of owning a car has gone up dramatically all over Europe – especially in the UK, when you include petrol, insurance, depreciation, MOT, tax and so on – at a time when disposable income hasn’t. “On the driver side, we have an equation where the problem isn’t buying a car any more, it’s owning one – and that’s helping us to convince drivers to share their ride. On the other side, you see the same dynamic. Train prices, especially, have gone up dramatically in the past five to 10 years. If you want to book a train from London to Manchester for Friday evening, you’re going to pay £50-£70 one way, when BlaBlaCar is going to cost you £15. So we offer a last-minute, flexible, super-low-cost transport network.”

BlaBlaCar, which received $10m in a venture round led by Accel Partners in January 2012, is free at first, allowing users to discover the service, be introduced to one another online and pay in person, thereby building up a level of familiarity and trust, says Brusson. “Then, as soon as we have enough people in the service, we introduce an online booking service, where essentially the passenger will pay online and we manage not only the interaction but also the transaction. The company holds on to the money, until the driver and passenger ride together and rate each other. Once we have the feedback that it worked, we transfer the money to the driver and take a commission fee.” For tax and insurance reasons, drivers aren’t allowed to make a profit on the journey, merely to cover costs. (Source:


‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

to do that is to turn to the rule book. But I think this is too big a phenomenom to be strangled so easily and much like the music industry was forced to change when digital music sharing became pandemic, so other industries will find themselves being forced to

of trust. “Why on Earth would you want to stay in a stranger’s house instead of a perfectly good hotel? Have these people never watched Psycho?” Which, ignoring the fact that Norman Bates was actually running

traction with niche travelers”, wrote Thomas Friedman in the New York Times last year. “I mean, how many people in Paris really want to rent out their kid’s bedroom down the hall to a perfect stranger who comes to them via the Internet? And how many

“People are looking to buy services discretely when they need them, instead of owning an asset,” says Jeff Miller, the boss of Wheelz, a peer-to-peer carrental service that operates in California. change as well.” The trust issue Another obstacle to the growth of sharing economies, and one which is nearly always cited in an incredulous tone by those reporting on the success of Airbnb, and other similar set ups such as Roomorama, Wimdu and BedyCasa, is that


a very bad motel, is often accompanied by a single story about a woman somewhere in America who had her Airbnb apartment apartment trashed in 2011. “I first heard Brian Chesky (one of Airbnb’s founders) describe his company two years ago and thought it was a quaint idea that would find limited

strangers want to be down the hall? Wrong. Turns out there is an innkeeper residing in all of us!” All such models rely heavily on ratings and reciprocal reviews to establish trust between users. Renting a room in a relative stranger’s apartment in a foreign city seems far less scary when you can read A world-wide wi-fi sharing network. Founded in Madrid in 2006 by Martín Varsavsky with the objective of “cloaking the world in free Wi-Fi by encouraging people to share their home connections.” Now the largest Wi-Fi network in the world, with almost 12m hot spots in more than 100 countries. “My general thinking at the time was that we live in a world in which benefits are only accrued through economic growth and the endless consumption of resources, and that there have to be other ways that are of more benefit to people,” he says. “Why should everyone have their own car when most of the time they are not using them? Think of a marina full of boats. How frequently do those boats go out?” When Varsavsky launched Fon, it ran into determined opposition from telecoms businesses, which said that the company’s vision of shared Wi-Fi was against their terms of service. “What we showed with Fon was that you would only share with those who share back,” he says. “We actually created a new incentive for people to sign up for DSL or broadband connections, which was to sign up at home, to roam the world. This became so true that T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and BT all became shareholders in Fon.” Another area set to boom, he predicts, is the sharing of expensive equipment for gardening, DIY and even farming. “These are all things that are bought, used extremely little and are likely to be shared. Social platforms will play a big role in this and open up all these categories, because people can just say, ‘I need this’ and there’s an instant audience. All these [sharing economy] sites have log-ins with Facebook, Twitter and Google+, which removes the friction, enabling us to make more rational use of our assets [like these]. That’s one of the reasons why the sharing economy is here to stay.” (Source: PAGE 35

‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

positive reviews from previous guests. And visa versa, opening your doors to a stranger doesn’t seem nearly as mental when you have access to reviews from other hosts they have stayed with. Some platforms will even go so far as to carry out background checks on their members, to assess their

driving credentials, credit histories and criminal records, while others are now using social networks such as Facebook to allow potential renters or rentees to see if they have any connections in common. RelayRides admits to relying heavily on user reviews when it comes to assessing the level

“The idea of renting from a person rather than a faceless company will survive, even if the early idealism of the sharing economy does not.” Nate Blecharczyk, one of Airbnb’s founders


of care its members exert in terms of cleanliness. “Such systems tend to create norms that keep owners and renters in line, because they fear the repercussions of bad reviews,” says founder Shelby Clark. “Other people on the site will be less willing to do business with them, and they may be kicked out altogether. “ An online and mobile peer-to-peer marketplace for neighbourhood errands and small jobs. The story goes that one blustery February Boston night in February 2008, Leah Busque and her husband were about to go out for dinner when they realised they’d run out of dog food and didn’t have time to get any. Later that night the conversation turned to a business idea: an online marketplace where people could outsource little jobs (such as running to the corner shop) by connecting with others nearby. With headquarters in San Francisco, the company has received funding totalling $37.7m to date, and now has over 13,000 background-checked TaskRabbits in 14 US cities. Particularly popular for small businesses seeking vetted, temporary staff, particularly in events, office

administration and customer service, a demand which now accounts for 30% of TaskRabbit’s monthly revenues. “We are a much lighter-weight model that’s easier for a small business to utilise and much cheaper,” says Busque. “We only take a 20% cut of every transaction, whereas a lot of the staffing industry can take far more.” For tax purposes Task Rabbits are considered independent contractors responsible for their own tax returns, but how a fee, say for assembling Ikea furniture (one of the site’s popular tasks), relates to minimum wage legislation is so far untested. Busque’s vision is to revolutionise the way we work. “By providing people with the tools and resources to set their own schedules, be their own bosses and say how much they want to get paid is incredibly empowering. It has huge implications for the global labour force.” (Source:


‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

“Renting a room in a relative stranger’s apartment in a foreign city seems far less scary when you can read positive reviews from previous guests.” The majority of platforms in which trust and feedback is important ensure that there is a confirmation delay when one member enquires about the availability of another member’s rentable item, allowing the latter to make a decision on whether to proceed or not based on applicants peer reviews and ratings. While being rejected in this way might not be what the applicant wants to hear, they


aren’t afforded a platform to voice any grumpiness as only those who are party to an actual transaction are usually allowed to post a review. The review system also has the effect of rewarding members with good credentials while quickly weeding out members with bad track records. As Thomas Friedman put it in the context of Airbnb, “Their real innovation is not online rentals. It’s “trust.” It created

a framework of trust that has made tens of thousands of people comfortable renting rooms in their homes to strangers.” What next? Ultimately the world is full of spare resources and has been for a long time. The difference now is that thanks to the internet it’s become increasingly easy for people to put those resources to use An online peer-to-peer marketplace that permits drivers to book parking spots situated predominantly at private properties rather than in parking lots or on-street. At the same time as generating revenue for property owners, ParkatmyHouse aims to realise savings for drivers by allowing them to park on parking spots that are otherwise poorly utilized. ParkatmyHouse claims to be the world’s largest marketplace for parking with over a quarter of a million customers. The company was founded by Anthony Eskinazi in September 2006 after he experienced parking difficulties while attending a baseball game in San Francisco. In July 2011, ParkatmyHouse raised venture capital from BWW i Ventures, the venture capital arm of BMW. In late 2012, ParkatmyHouse formed a partnership with Transport for London, SSE plc and chargepoint manufacturer, Chargemaster, to install free electric vehicle charge points on the driveways of property owners currently renting out their driveways using the website. Once installed, the charge points can be reserved online by third parties using the ParkatmyHouse website. (source:


‘Share and share alike’ (cont)

“As Thomas Friedman put it in the context of Airbnb, “Their real innovation is not online rentals. It’s “trust.” relatively easily. There are obstacles to the growth of the sharing sector overall, not least statutory regulation, but the shear size of the sector and the speed at


which it has grown suggests that it is very much here to stay. As somebody said when I explained the concept to them recently, “It just makes sense, so much sense.” A peer-to-peer lending and rental site. At Rentoid you can rent anything from a beach buggy to baby gear. You can search for things to rent using the search engine where you can enter your location and the object you wish to rent. You can search by category. The category list is very extensive including listings such as: toys, motorbikes, art, collectibles, DVDs, airplanes, party supplies, etc. You can also browse for stuff for rent by choosing to search through the: random stuff, rockstar stuff, and quirky stuff. When you search you can see a photo of the item along with the category it belongs in, the suburb it is located in, the cost for: a day, week, and month, and its availability. If you have rented from someone and have enjoyed your experience you can click on the user and see what else they have to rent. It is easy to post the things you want to rent as well. If you have an item that you barely use, rent it, make some extra money and let someone else enjoy using it. (Source:



Say experts at the Franhofer Institut As the momentum of the shared sector gathers, experts at a top german university are helping businesses new and old to get to grips with the keys challenges to success


“Before established industry companies can successfully position themselves amid changing consumer patterns, they have to understand what is motivating people to share products in the first place.” It is too early to tell what impact changing consumer patterns will have on mainstream industry, and how this in turn will affect the demand for products and services, but the Fraunhofer Institut’s newly formed Shared Systems Design competence team is helping companies tackle the challenges posed by the sharing economy. More and more of us are seeing the virtues of “using” rather than “buying.” While individuals are taking advantage above all of the chance to share such things as cars, holiday homes or consumer goods, the attraction for companies lies in sharing infrastructure, facilities or high-end equipment. Not only do these sharing trends make sense as an efficient use of resources, they also open up a vast array of new operator and business models. There is already a wide range of offers out there, borne out of greater awareness for sustainable development and based on information and communication technology systems with advanced functions.

Whereas to begin with, most ideas were worked up by end users, now a raft of new companies is offering sharing as a service. Chief among them are newly formed companies such as accommodation portal Airbnb and lending community whyownit, as well as offshoots of established companies such as Car2Go. Even though the bulk of sharing opportunities available today are still improvised and aimed at a very specific audience, the market for sharing already boasts significant turnover. Recent studies are predicting not only strong growth, but also that sharing will spread to new areas of application. To tap this potential, Fraunhofer IAO (FraunhoferInstitut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation) has formed the Shared Systems Design competence team. The team brings together experts in technology and innovation management and pools their know-how to work with companies to develop concepts and solutions for the sharing economy.

The business-to-business (B2B) segment is taking center stage, with B2B infrastructure in particular offering plenty of opportunity to make more efficient and effective use of resources. Strategic development of technological and organizational solutions for the sharing of resources is one key aspect of this work. But before established industry companies can successfully position themselves amid changing consumer patterns, they have to understand what is motivating people to share products in the first place. The new Fraunhofer IAO team engages in trend analyses, works up scenarios and creates sharing systems with a focus on their organization, business models and platforms. The experts also determine which products are suitable for sharing and the technologies required to make sharing them a success.




How 3 blow-up airbeds inspired a multimillion dollar business in just 6 years Most stories you read these days about the growth of ‘sharing’ economies, start by mentioning, a six-year old internet platform that connects people looking for a place to stay, to people with spare rooms to rent. A simple idea that not many commentators at the time thought would grow to boast the quarter of a million global listings it now has. Many of the listings are in cities such as New York, where they have 23,000 rooms available, and Paris where they have a similar number. Cities where hotel rooms are not only expensive, but often hard to find. Not so if you’re prepared to stay in someone else’s spare room though. As Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky told the New York Times,

“Tonight we have 140,000 people around the world staying in Airbnb rooms. Hilton has around 600,000 rooms. We will get up to 200,000 people per night by peak this summer. We have listings in 34,000 cities and 192 countries,” he added. “We are the largest short-term rental site of its kind in China today, and we have no office there.” Apparently it all started with a few blow-up air beds. Bored of his course at the Rhode Island School of Design, Chesky drove to San Francisco and crashed on the floor of his friend Joe Gebbia’s apartment with whom he had agreed to split the rental costs. “Unfortunately, my share came to $1,150 and I only had $1,000 in the bank, so I had

a math problem — and I was unemployed,” said Chesky. But, as fortune would have it, the very same week Chesky arrived in San Francisco in October 2007, the city was playing host to the Industrial Designers Society of America, and getting a hotel room of any kind had become an impossible task. Which is when they dreamed up the idea of turning their own apartment into an impromptu bed and breakfast for all those roomless conference goers. “The problem was we had no beds, but Gebbia did have three air mattresses. So we inflated them and called ourselves ‘Airbed and Breakfast,’ ” Chesky, 31, told the New York Times. “Three people stayed with us, and we charged them $80 a

“According to the Guardian newspaper in the UK, Prince Hans-Adam II offered his entire principality of Liechtenstein for rent on Airbnb ($70,000 a night), complete with customized street signs and temporary currency.” PAGE 45


night. We also made breakfast for them and became their local guides.” The additional income enabled them to cover the rent that month and in the process, gave birth to an idea that has since grown into a multimillion dollar company and helped more than a few other people to make additional money from their apartments too.

Chesky continues. “We have dozens of yurts, caves, tepees with TVs in them, water towers, motor homes, private islands, glass houses, lighthouses, igloos with WiFi; we have a home that Jim Morrison used to live in; we have treehouses — hundreds of treehouses — which are the most profitable listings on our Web site per square footage. The treehouse in Lincoln, Vt., is more valuable than the main

A quite phenomenal growth rate for a company which is essentially encouraging ordinary people to invite strangers into their homes. As Friedman explained it, “While it sounds like Chesky is just a global rental agent with more scale, there is something much bigger going on here. Airbnb’s real innovation is not online rentals. It’s ‘trust.’ It created a framework of trust that has

“Many of the listings are in cities such as New York, where they have 23,000 rooms available, and Paris where they have a similar number.” The idea was simple: to create a global network through which anyone anywhere could rent a spare room in their home to earn cash. “In homage to its roots, they called the company Airbnb,” wrote Friedman last July, “(a company) which has grown so large, so fast that it is now the equivalent of a major global hotel chain — even though, unlike Hilton, it doesn’t own a single bed. And the new trend it set off is the ‘sharing economy’.” “We have over 600 castles,”

house. We have treehouses in Vermont that have had sixmonth waiting lists. People plan their vacation now around treehouse availability!” According to the Guardian newspaper in the UK, Prince Hans-Adam II offered his entire principality of Liechtenstein for rent on Airbnb ($70,000 a night), complete with customized street signs and temporary currency. You can rent any number of Frank Lloyd Wright homes — and even a one-square-meter house in Berlin that goes for $13 a night.”

made tens of thousands of people comfortable renting rooms in their homes to strangers.” To rent an apartment, a yurt, a barge or even a castle through Airbnb you are required to sign up on their website and pay using a credit card. Airbnb then takes between 6 and 12% of the fee from the rentee and a 3% fee from the renter. The host receives payment from Airbnb after the first night. All parties to the arrangement can check each other out by asking for driving licence details, passports, e-mail addresses

Top left to bottom right: London, Athens, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris PAGE 47

‘The Airbnb Story (cont) and phone numbers, and even their Facebook profiles. As Friedman put it, “No one is anonymous.” They then work out their own exchange of keys. The real beauty of the system though, and the single thing that will probably make the idea sustainable, is that after the rental both the guest and the host rate each other, creating a massive incentive to deliver a good experience. As most people who are familiar with the basics of service ratings on the internet will know, if you manage to accrue too many bad reviews from different independent sources, your chances of success will be severely hampered. Reputation is, as they say, everything. Airbnb provides an automatic blanket insurance against damage or theft to the tune of $1 million in most of the countries in which it operates, but claims to only rarely receive any claims. This unique approach to utilizing the vast resource of spare rooms, and underpinning it all with a simple raft of trust, has created considerable economic activity at grass roots level. “In the last 12 months in Paris, we’ve generated $240 million in economic activity,” Chesky said last year. Activity which, Friedman reckons, has also spawned PAGE 48

its own ecosystem. “Ordinary people who will now come clean your home, coordinate key exchanges, cook dinner for you and your guests, photograph rooms for rent, and through the ride-sharing business Lyft, turn their cars into taxis to drive you around.”

Airbnb co-founder, Brian Chesky

once you unlock that idea, it is so much bigger than homes. ... There is a whole generation of people that don’t want everything mass produced. They want things that are “It used to be that corporations unique and personal.” and brands had all the trust,” added Chesky. “But now a total Friedman sees this as the beginning of a world in which stranger can be trusted like there is no longer any room a company and provide the for average. “In a world where, services of a company. And

as I’ve argued, average is over — the skills required for any good job keep rising — a lot of people who might not be able to acquire those skills can still earn a good living now by building their own branded reputations, whether it is to rent their kids’ rooms, their cars or their power tools.”

“To rent an apartment, a yurt, a barge or even a castle through Airbnb, you are required to sign up on their website and pay using a credit card.”

As Chesky poins out, “There are 80 million power drills in America that are used an average of 13 minutes. Does everyone really need their own drill?” Earning an income from renting out your spare room can become addictive says Chesky. “More than 50 percent of Airbnb hosts depend on it to pay their rent or mortgage today. “Ordinary people can now be micro-entrepreneurs.” Most importantly perhaps, the economics apart, is that utilizing spare assets rather than creating new ones is so much better for the environment. As Friedman concluded for the New York Times, “Just think how much better all this is for the environment — for people to be renting their spare bedrooms rather than building another Holiday Inn and another and another. ... The sharing economy — watch this space. This is powerful.” (With reference to ‘Welcome to the ‘Sharing Economy’ by Thomas L. Friedman, first published in the New York Times in July 2013.) PAGE 49

BREAD FUNDS Disability insurance can be prohibitively expensive, especially for self-employed people, which is partly why so many, like sustainability consultant Freerk Bisschop, are turning to self-insurance schemes based entirely on inclusion and trust.


Sharing things is something I do quite easily. My DYI equipment is fully available through Peerby (as long as people are within 500 meters of my house). I share office space in Amsterdam and Delft – and the kitchen table at home. The only exception is probably my vintage Citroen DS Break from 1971, but hey...

members of a ‘bread fund’: a group of 50 independents who have agreed to share that risk. The mechanism was developed in Utrecht, by a collective of social and creative entrepreneurs called ‘De Broodfondsmakers (makers of bread funds), and it works as follows.

A few months ago, I started sharing something less tangible.

Every month I put 90€ into a separate, personal savings account (at Triodos Bank) – with a standard interest rate. Nothing shared – yet. Money in the bank until I find a job, or retire.

A friend of mine invited me to share risk. We are both entrepreneurs. She works as a copywriter and event organiser while also running a meeting accommodation and bed & breakfast operation with her husband. So, just like me, she can’t run the risk of being unable to work. Which is why, in the past, we have both forked out staggeringly large sums of money every year for insurance. But not any more.

Because now, we are both

But then, only a week after joining the fund, tragedy struck when my friend suffered a stroke. So now me and the other members of the bread fund donate 40€ per month to her from our savings account. Such donations are small enough to be exempt of income tax, but add up to €2,000 monthly. This is keeping my friend afloat while she is recovering, for a

previously agreed maximum duration of 2 years. A cheap insurance would take care of her after that. No insurance company involved. I save 70% on my normal annual insurance premiums and that money remains mine if no one gets too ill for too long. I might get most of it back some day. I meet with my fellow members at least twice a year and new members always come introduced, to maintain mutual trust. The people at Broodfondsmakers: Bibi Schoenmaker, Andre Jonkers and Haiko Liefmann, develop local breadfunds and service them administratively. More than 80 already exist, with 20 or more in the pipeline. That’s 5,000 independent professionals sharing risk with people they know.



As the global workforce becomes ever more flexible, co-working spaces and shared offices are on the rise. But are they for everyone?

Above the Impact Hub, Westminster, London


While working from home has lots of advantages, many people miss the good bits of working in an office. Like chatting with colleagues over a coffee, eating a slice of birthday cake courtesy of somebody in accounts you’ve never even heard of, and going for a ‘quick’ one after work to bitch about your boss.

‘Global Co-working Survey’, the number of shared office locations has increased by 83% globally over the last year, while the number of users has increased by 117%.

Which is why (assuming a return to a traditional office is no longer an option) so many home-based freelancers these days are turning to co-working spaces in an attempt to inject some of those vital ingredients back into their daily work schedules.

stick to ‘normal’ working hours.

According to an annual survey conducted by Deskmag entitled

The survey also discovered that half of all co-workers go to their shared workspace at all hours, with less than a third opting to

“The future of work should not be dictated by space or place, but by the individual and the tasks that he or she has to deliver,” Regus CEO Mark Dixon recently told ‘Fast Company’ magazine. “Many employees are now measured by output and productivity, and not just 40 hours spent sitting at a desk. PAGE 53

Come work with me (cont) Workers and the companies for which they work are increasingly realizing that they need to provide and utilize a wide range of workplaces to accommodate an increasingly diverse workforce with very different expectations of what work is, and where and when it should happen.” Other interesting statistics thrown up by the survey included: 71% of respondents claimed to have become more creative since opting to join a co-working space. 62% reported an improvement in the general standard of their work.


90% felt more self-confident. 70% felt healthier. 33 – 50% described their hours as ‘flexible’ or ‘mobile’. 64% felt they were completing their work tasks in a more timely manner. Co-working provides many of the benefits of a traditional office, while also allowing you to maintain your independence. You get a desk (permanent or shared, it varies), the all-so-important Wi-Fi network, access to a kitchen, plus the chance to network with like-minded souls, exchange ideas and advice and generally reassure

yourself that you’re not going quite as mad as you thought you were when you were working at home with only the cat for company. All for considerably less than it would cost to rent your own office. Jerry Ganston, a selfemployed recruitment consultant, is adamant that he made the right decision when he opted to join a coworking space in Brighton, England. “While being laid off from my previous job with a multi-national recruitment firm was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, I soon discovered that I’m not nearly as self-disciplined as I thought I was.

Top 10 Things People Miss About ‘Traditional’ offices 1.The chance to moan about life, the universe and everything on a near constant basis with work colleagues. A highly under-rated carthartic exercise. 2. Social interaction at the coffee machine or down the pub after work. 3. An endless supply of bright yellow post-it notes. 4. The opportunity to wander around the office randomly disturbing other people every time you get a bit bored. 5. Your very own desk above which to hang signs saying things such as: ‘You Don’t Have To Be Mad To Work Here, But It Helps’. 6. Carpet Tiles. 7. Prarie Dogging (for those lucky enough to work in cubicle style open plan offices) when something – the noise of someone snoring perhaps causes everyone to simultaneously stand up at their desks and peer over the top of their cubicles like a bunch of nosey prarie dogs. 8. The chance to eat a slice of birthday cake from somebody in accounts you’ve never even heard of. 9. Amateurish ‘in-house’ magazines with demoralizingly dull pep talk editorials from senior management.


Advantages of working from home: Every day can be a ‘dress down’ day. Pyjamas, bobble hats, leiderhosen, you name it, everything goes. Peace and quiet. Hour after hour, after hour. Daytime soap operas (in the background of course). Cost price coffee and biscuits. The chance to ‘talk through’ new business ideas with the cat. Ample time to improve your ‘keepy uppy’ skills in the back yard. No commuting. Being able to listen to traffic reports and snigger. A million and one other handy distractions. PAGE 56

“When I was working from home I was forever finding little jobs around the house that needed to be done, instead of getting stuck into my work. I call it work avoidance and I was really very good at it. Now that I work from a shared space, I find the ‘office’ atmosphere far more conducive to work. Maybe it’s a Pavlovian response to 20 years in the corporate world, I don’t know, but I found I needed some sort of structure even if it was a loose one.” Richard Genling, a freelance web designer agrees. “If I

worked from home, I’d have to get my wife to hide the remote control for the TV that’s for sure. It’s a thirty-minute bike ride to my shared office in Bristol, but it’s certainly worth it. I need to have people around me, the buzz of work. Even though we’re all generally working on different projects, it helps to have to explain yourself to people occasionally. “There’s plenty of chatting about ideas going on every day and it really helps to be able to run ideas past people who don’t have any sort of vested interest in what you’re doing. I listen to other people and they

listen to me. It works.” Genling also believes that the co-working space has helped with clients who he regularly invites to the ‘office’. “There are meeting rooms you can hire by the hour, which helps, but usually we just lounge around in the coffee area. I think secretly some of the people I work for are intensely jealous. Most importantly though, they see that I take my work seriously and that I am working from the sort of creative space they expect to see creative people like me working from.”

The Cambridge Business Lounge


Many co-working spaces go further than just providing meeting rooms. The Impact Hub in Islington for example employs what they call ‘Hub Hosts’ who organise events such as “Pitch and Pizza” where members are encouraged to seek feedback from other members, assistance or collaboration on their projects. They also organize workshops on a range of useful topics such as legal practice, social networking, and personal development, as well as regular networking lunches. Members can even offset the cost of their membership by becoming hosts themselves from time to time. Working a day a week as a host earns you

a free Hub 100 tariff, which translates to the use of a desk for 100 hours a month. The cost of joining a coworking space varies tremendously but is related to location and the type of addons being offered. A monthly membership at the Impact Hub in Islington, for example, starts at £16 for five hours a month, and goes up to £319 a month for unlimited use, with 30% off for students and discounts available for start-ups. The Skiff in Brighton charges £19 for a one-day pass and from £49 to £119 a month for one to three days a week. The

Cambridge Business Lounge offers a walk-in rate of £10 for 4 hours and £260 for a monthly pass. Most set ups include a desk and a wi-fi connection as standard with other facilities usually being charged additionally. At Impact Hub Islington, for example, £5 will buy you as much tea and coffee as you care to drink and at the Skiff in Brighton you can rent storage space from £20 a month, while for £40 workaholics can buy a set of keys to enable them to go to work whenever the mood takes them. The choice of office seems to have a lot to do with the type

An open office in New York run by


The Skiff in Brighton charges £19 for a one-day pass and from £49 to £119 a month for one to three days a week. The Cambridge Business Lounge offers a walk-in rate of £10 for 4 hours and £260 for a monthly pass. of environment its members think will be most conducive to their work style, with some preferring cozy set ups occupied by only a handful of people, and others being drawn to warehouse style affairs complete with ‘chill out’ areas, ‘interaction spaces’ and even pool tables. “What I really like about my space in Barcelona,” said Joanne Greenly, a freelance writer and self-confessed ‘networking junkie’, “is the amount of work I get from it. It seems everyone but everyone is working on some sort of website and they all need content. Word just gets

round that I’m a writer and hey presto, there’s someone hovering at my desk with that, ‘I don’t suppose you’ve got 15 minutes to spare to look at this thing I’ve written have you?’ look on their face. I always start off doing stuff for free, and if people like what they see, I start charging. It’s been a gold mine.” It makes sense to seek out a space that suits you. Indeed, many co-working spaces have details of current members on their websites, so you can easily check out who you would end up working with.

great,” said Grant Turron, a media consultant working out of Edinburgh. “But after a while I found that I was spending all my time having fun, chatting to people about their start-ups, going for coffees, and generally not doing any work. I didn’t bin it altogether though, I pay for 30 hours a month, just enough to carry on feeling connected to the real world, but if I really want to get some work done, I go to the library. Fortunately for me they still have those in Scotland.”

Not that full time co-working suits everyone. “At first it was


SWAPSEE TIME Spotlight on a sharing economy startup in Barcelona with its focus on local networks Sharing economy companies are currently experiencing many challenges and pressure from their investors as a result of going mainstream, but the reality is that the economic crisis and the new ‘millennial culture’ have changed expectations of the corporate world, and the desire for more collaborative business models is driving a search for healthier modes of consumption. For example, we are seeing a rise in new organisations and businesses that focus on the local level and the generation of true social value. One of these companies is Swapsee, a small but growing exponent of the sharing economy in Barcelona. Swapsee is a community-focused, skill sharing platform, where members can find talent in their local community to collaborate on projects and professionals for hire for freelance and long term jobs.


In an age in which virtually everyone can access the Internet and companies have a myriad of resources to outsource work to low-cost countries, Swapsee proposes a socially conscious alternative. Instead of getting your coding or your design done half way around the world, Swapsee proposes that you work with professionals in the local community, and in doing so, foster the growth of your local economy by generating jobs, getting projects off the ground, and building networks of proximity and connections between professionals so that collaboration is easier. Swapsee launched in Barcelona scarcely half a year ago and currently has almost 4,000 members, of which 70% are in the Catalan capital. Often compared to other online talent platforms such as the well established oDesk, Nubelo and eLancer, Swapsee differentiates itself from them in its core

values: an emphasis on quality, enforced through its ‘invitation only’ sign-up policy, and its truly local, community-centered character. In the words of Marta Marine, Swapsee’s Marketing and Community Development Manager, “We aren’t just a website that provides a service and where people have an account. We are building a community where members know each other and have real, offline relationships that create networks of proximity, make collaborations more fluid and abundant, and ultimately build trust”. Swapsee’s success stories are perfect examples of this, like the most recent one involving Sharlene Halbert. Sharlene is an English and Piano teacher and a Swapsee member who was working on a very interesting personal project: creating a children’s television show. To pull it off she needed a

In an age in which virtually everyone can access the Internet and companies have a myriad of resources to outsource work to low-cost countries, Swapsee proposes a socially conscious alternative. talented and artistically inclined person to help her design the visual aesthetic of the pilot episode. She posted her needs on Swapsee’s online marketplace, and despite her offer being a non-paid collaboration she found a host of designers and illustrators that wanted to work with her based on their personal

interest in the project. This illustrates that the spirit of collaboration is strong in the community, and that often the talent we need for our projects is all around us, and we simply need a way to find it.

community in Barcelona in August 2013 and is currently expanding and setting up communities in Madrid, Delft, Bristol and Bath. You can find out more about them at their website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Swapsee launched its first

Swapsee initiated a joint effort with the local council to train local people in the specialist art of graffiti removal. One of a number of such community based projects. PAGE 61


building board game

Consider it Monopoly for the modern world. EcoTopia is a board game designed to embody the dream of a sustainable utopia. The goal is for players to create a city with the most balanced economy and environmental impact.


Players are faced with the challenges of creating a sustainable city: making decisions of economic vs. environmental cost, and hedging their bets for population and energy production, which determine the winner.

Kickstarter-backed funds will go to the production of the board game and furthering the success and sustainability of its future. Pledging starts at $5, and just $30 will land you your very own EcoTopia.

ROCKS AND GRAVEL COFFEE: Eco-roasts to your door Coffee lovers, prepare to leave your house for coffee again. Rocks & Gravel Coffee is a local (by way of Manhattan), small batch, organic, fair trade Full City Roast. The Koren brothers hope to build a membership of coffee drinkers, with coffee refills shipped direct from roast in recyclable, collectible tins. The project gives back in four ways: with recyclable, reusable packaging, by using fair

trade, USDA certified organic, ‘bird friendly’ and shade grown beans, offering a refer-a-friend discount and giving a royalty to the artist behind each unique tin. A pledge of $25 nabs you a single tin (limited), but $100 will earn you a 3x membership and a Pour Over Cup. Need more Joe? Grab an entire year of coffee for just $350.



a 100% recycled paper earth planter One of the most frustrating parts of planting your own garden is moving seedlings into the ground. It’s messy, it’s dirty and worst of all, you could end up ruining the roots and destroying the plant in the process. Plantable Planet changes all of that. Each box contains a globe-shaped planter made from 100% recycled paper, coloured pencils to spruce up the globe, and two organic, NON-GMO seeds. The planters are filled with coconut husk instead of dirt, and will germinate within a week of planting. Once the plants are mature, you plant the entire planter into the ground, enabling decomposition of the planter and stronger roots for your plant. A single planter is just the small pledge of $5, and you can choose to donate it to an underprivileged school of your choice.


ECOQUBE: desktop ecosystem that grows flowers and herbs

Despite successfully raising twice their $39K goal on Kickstarter, EcoQube is back on Indiegogo to raise just a little more, to add lightening functions to the desktop aquarium. Part fish tank, part planter, the EcoQube uses an aquaponics filter to keep the aquarium clean. That means no cleaning, no watering and very little maintenance on your part.

Grab your own self-sustaining unit for less than $150. One word of caution though: professional aquaponics farms do not use aquarium chemicals like the EcoQube. Herbs and micro-greens will thrive with the EcoQube, but are not safe for consumption.



BRIGHT CHILDREN: bright future In the largest SunFunder project to date, SunnyMoney and backers came together to supply over 8,000 solar powered lights to Kenyan families. SunnyMoney is a social enterprise that sells quality solar lights in Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania, reducing reliance on expensive, poor quality fuels such as kerosene and disposable, short-life batteries.

in addition to saving 167kg of CO2 emissions displaced annually per family. The d.light s2 is an ultra affordable study lantern, allowing students to double their study time and positively impact on grades and performance. To date, the SunnyMoney team in Kenya has sold 183,000 solar lights.

The solar lights are expected to impact nearly 35,000 people and save $78 a year on energy,


ECO-CARTON: an authentic

alternative to plastic bottles. The water package of the future is here…well, almost. After raising over $14K in the fall of 2013, the Eco-Carton is becoming a reality.

It contains no BPA’s, no VOC’s, has less carbon emissions, and best of all, is affordable for the consumer.

Eliminating plastic pollution and the toxic impact of the traditional plastic water bottle, the EcoCarton uses a mineralized barrier coating on the inside and outside layers of the carton, unlike traditional milk boxes.

The project is currently underway, and hopes to ship the Eco-Carton in December 2014.

The Eco-Carton uses 40% less plastic and are made from recyclable, sustainable and renewable pressed paper.


THE CROWD THE GREEN JEAN: made in the USA, eco-friendly denim Dirtball constructs only 100% eco-friendly, 100% made in the U.S.A. apparel, and used Kickstarter to fund the Green Jean, a pair of jeans made from 71% cotton and 29% recycled polyester denim from the legendary Cone Denim White Oak Plant. A 70% recycled cotton 30% recycled polyester duck fabric khaki pant is also available. Both are constructed in the USA, will sustain approximately 25 U.S. manufacturing jobs for 2 months, recycle thousands of water bottles and save hundreds of barrels of crude oil. The Green Jean was fully funded in september, and can now be purchased on the Dirtball Fashion website


AERIAL FRACKING PHOTOS: ‘eyes in the skies’ multicopters Henry Boschen is a concerned citizen.


He has been fighting fracking for over 5 years and is looking to expand his access to ecological sites by seeking $2,000 for a professional, GPS stabilized, radio controlled multicopter with telemetery controlled video and 14 mega pixel still picture capability.

These photographs will be posted on his website and be available to anyone needing photographic proof of the damage caused by fracking.

This would allow him to capture high quality photographs of the clear cutting, deep holes, wet-land destruction, waste water holding ponds, spills and pipeline breaks endemic to these




los angeles scholarships

As a groundbreaking new school opens its doors in early 2014, one group is seeking scholarship money to send students from the LA area. Seed School teaches gardeners how to save historic seeds, ensure access to non-GMO seeds, breed vegetables to be productive, and support food sovereignty issues.

information back to underserved communities and teach in local community gardens, schools and events and help establish a network of seed saving libraries for a GMO FREE LA. Funds cover the costs of two full scholarships and various partial scholarships.

The group will be accepting applications from individuals who are committed to taking this



protected species yes, marine debris no Research at Neptune Islands over the last decade has observed an increasing number of injuries to marine animals, attributed to marine debris.

conduct a survey and cleanup of marine debris at the Neptune Islands and Liguanea islands.

The evidence that pollution is a threat to marine biodiversity is overwhelming, and injuries include scars, open wounds and entanglements to great white sharks, Australian fur seals and Australian Sea Lions.

Once the dominant sources of debris are identified, a public education campaign will target the main offenders. A subsequent beach survey will be conducted 12 months later to determine the rate of debris deposition, and to monitor the impact of the educational component of this project.

This unique project, seeking $160,000, will



2050 Magazine issue 09  
2050 Magazine issue 09  

Really interesting Magazine about Sustainability and Environment. This issue talks about the Sharing Economies.