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19TH October 2014

500 Start Ups - Business Tricks - Creative problem Solving - Leadership - Timely - Trust Cloud - Uncategorized

Kelp Forests, Trust and Sharing Platforms

I made it to Monterrey

I made it to Monterrey

Sharing platforms have been growing like weeds lately. It’s great that we can use technology to squeeze middlemen, optimize our time and assets, and save money. Just a press of the button and we have cars to drive, couches to crash, and sitters to watch our kids. On this SanFran loop I have used Lyft, Uber, LunchClub, RelayRides, AirBnB and was looking for a dinner conversation on Bookalocal (no luck there).

There’s only one problem there, which crops up from time to time; humans are, well, human.

I was barrelling down the 101 on my way to a bucket-list dive in the Monterrey Kelp Forests when the phone rang on my Relay Rides car. It was my host, JB, who had rented us a car for the last few days. He asked: instead of the grace period, could I have the car back on the early side because there was another booking right adjacent. And, in the moment, I was sorely tempted to just say no and go on my merry way. I was really looking forward to an early dive and a nice afternoon in the bay.

Which brings up a very interesting point about the supply side of sharing: these people are micro-entrepreneurs that have limited inventory, very little margin for error, and no way to make good. (A hotel, on the other hand, can find you another room. A rental car company another car. But if something goes a little wrong in sharing platforms, everything begins to unwind.) If JB didn’t get the car back in time to wash it and prep it for the next driver, he would lose the job, she would be pissed or just miffed, and perhaps just use another non-platform service next time.

Which brings up another interesting point: friction. If people have bad or even kinda-bad experiences with sharing, they will be tempted to just go back to the phone book and pick someone who has been in business for 20 years. It’s safer. And sharing just saves a little money, but risks some big downfalls.

Which of course, I know all to well as Chief Exec of a company that does Trust, Safety and Quality for sharing platforms.

Which is why I turned around, returned the car early, rented another Relay Rides down the block and headed south again, about an hour worse for wear. But I dived with a clear head and a clean heart.

Sharing platforms will only scale if they take this type of friction seriously by rewarding people who behave well across platforms, and tracking people who do not. I’m proud to be one to help.

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