February 18, 2017 by Preeks
I recently attended a meet-up on Sharing Economy Business Models where some really good people from startups in the sharing economy space were discussing about the evolution of this concept in India.
The worst answer I heard that day, from a pretty respectable company rep, was, “In India, from when we are kids, our parents tell us to share things with others. I was the elder sibling, so I had to share everything with my younger brother. This attitude is the reason why sharing economy will succeed in India.”
Ohk. Right words, wrong concept, huh?
My Mom told me not to talk to strangers. Now, I stay at a random person’s place I picked on Airbnb, when I go to Europe. Looks like the Indian parents’ advise is working against sharing economy, isn’t it?
I got the feeling that by using jargon, we sometimes undermine the good work we are doing. Sure, sharing economy. But why? Let’s break this down.
I work at a farm equipment rental company called Trringo. We make farm equipment such as tractors, available on demand to farmers who cannot afford it. Hence, sharing economy. Sure, but you know why it works? Because the small and marginal farmers cannot afford tractors, who was earlier dependent on someone else for basic mechanization, who would wait endlessly for his turn to get a tractor from a larger farm owner, who got discriminated against because of his caste or his land size, now proudly place a call on a nameless, faceless Toll Free Number and ORDERS a tractor on rent. BEGS vs ORDERS. That’s dignity restored.
Uber is a taxi aggregator that connects taxis to passengers. Sure, but you know why it works? Because as opposed to standing on a road desperately trying to hail down a cab or autorickshaw, who in all probability will refuse to go to your destination, who, if you are in Delhi, will ask you what the word “meter” means when you ask him to turn it on, who, if you are in Chennai, will start the bargain from 4 digit numbers – as opposed to all that, you now order a cab on an app that doesn’t ask you a million questions and has no conditions attached. BARGAINING vs ORDERING. That’s dignity restored.
Nestaway is a rental accommodation provider. People staying on rent can now share electricity bills, etc through the app. Great. But you know why it works? Because when you go looking for a house, why on earth should you be on a lower pedestal? You don’t own a house, because you chose not to. That gives noone the right to drive you away with conditions as ridiculous as “you are a bachelor” or that “you chose to eat non-veg”. (Which by the way, Nestaway has captured quite beautifully in their ads). So as opposed to haunting multiple houses, knocking on doors and getting insulted for no fault of yours, you now have a nameless, faceless app that solves your problem. That’s dignity restored.
I strongly believe that Sharing Economy works because it brings balance into the equation. It brings dignity to both sides of the equation. No human being should have to be at the mercy of another for a “transactional” relationship. If someone is willing to pay and someone is willing to give the service, there should be no reason for the equation to have other variables and that is what all these sharing economy companies are doing. By removing the human element in the equation, they are making the business model more human.
At the centre of every business model is a human being who wants attention, who wants to feel special, who wants to feel respected, who believes somewhere he deserves the best. Sharing Economies are catering to that human emotion.
And that’s the reason why we should be happy about all these new business models. For making all of us feel respected.