Using the Sharing Economy for your Startup


The sharing economy connects individuals who need a particular product or service with other individuals who have or offer that particular product or service. We have heard how individuals use services such as Uber (the ridesharing app) or Airbnb (to rent your spare room or empty house) but what about businesses and using the sharing economy to reduce the cost of running a startup? There are a few ways you can use the sharing economy to reduce operational cost and raise capital for your startup. There are just a few examples:

Reduce Operational Cost

Marketing – Every startup needs some form of design, be it a complex website that directs your customers to their needs, or a simple logo for people to associate your brand with. Going through a marketing agency or a graphic/web design company is usually attached to a hefty price tag, and that’s simply out of the question for most startups.

Through peer-to-peer networks like or, you get to immediately connect with a large user base of designers all around the world, who’ll certainly have differing visions and ideas of what your brand’s image will look like. You can reach out to them, check out their portfolio, and pick a designer or a team to work on your logo, website, product design, you name it.

The cost is significantly cheaper as you cut out the corporate middlemen between you and the designers. For example, an established web design company in the U.S. can cost about $60 – $200 an hour, easy totalling up to thousands for your website.

But on you can find an experienced web designer who’ll get the job done for a fixed rate of $100. These platforms usually provide consumer-protection as well, and they’ll only release your payment to the designer when you’re 100% satisfied with the work submitted to you. You’ll also be able to communicate directly with your designer, and set milestones to check in, make sure they’re on the right track.

Staffing – If your startup requires employees or people with certain skill sets, but you’re not at a place where you can afford a full timer’s salary plus benefits yet, you can check out websites like, or

These websites link you up with virtual stores where people in your neighborhood or all over the world who offer their services at various rates. Just to name a few, you can find accountants, lawyers, virtual assistants, customer service representatives for anything between $2 – $100/hour depending on the type of skills required. Depending on your startup’s needs, having a skilled worker on standby would be significantly more cost-efficient than a full-time employee, especially when business is still picking up.

Raise Capital

Let’s say you have a really, really great idea for a startup, but the only thing holding you back is the initial cost. Traditionally, the first resort most startup owners would go to would be a business loan from a bank. But with high interest rates and a fixed payback scheme, it’s no easy feat to guarantee your startup will yield returns high enough and fast enough to repay your debt. Instead, you can try crowdfunding websites like or

These sites give you an inlet of ‘pledgers’, people who believe in your startup idea and are willing to donate or invest in it. For a certain amount of money pledged, you can offer something in exchange to the pledger related to your startup. For example, a largely popular video game, Dark Souls, has an extremely close-knit community of millions of players. A company called Steamforged games decided to make a Dark Souls board game, but needed roughly £100,000 to fund it. They decided to offer pledgers a chance to purchase the board game at £80, when the retail price after the official release would be £190. They got the word out in gaming forums and Facebook fan pages to create hype. Within 3 minutes of launching their crowdfunding campaign on, they reached their goal of £100,000. That was on 20th April 2016, and as of today, 21st July 2016, they’ve received a total of £3,771,474. You read that right, over 3 million Pounds pledged to an idea, a concept, that hasn’t even begun to come close to fruition.

Aside from monetary support, these crowdfunding platforms also provide a forum of sorts. Your pledgers then have a direct way to provide you with comments on what they think your startup should offer, giving you priceless feedback from your target audience.

When building your startup, keep in mind that sharing economy is based on the human connection, and an element of trust between you and your pledgers, partners, or employees. You’re accountable to each other in a way that’s relatively new in the business sense, and your reputation within the community is at stake. Networking is key, so maintaining good relations will no doubt ensure further fruitful cooperations, and opportunities to grow your startup.

How to Start a Sharing Movement

When we look at the way society functions in modern times, we seem to forget that amongst the teeming masses of humanity are made up of individuals.

Individuals of a Society

The thoughts and beliefs, as well as the actions of individuals in this mass of humanity we call society shape the future, the reality of our existence as we know it.

It is then imperative that we understand our own power as an individual. Power is simply the ability to do, to change, or to affect change in a situation, in reality.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”
— Gandhi

The fact that we can affect change in our society and as an individual, we must also carry out the obligation that we have to share.

To share, and create social value is a very natural human phenomenon, albeit not restricted to Homo Sapiens alone. To share and to consciously understand and create sharing movements, and values, as well as social value is however, a uniquely human concept.

Sharing is not limited to advertisements on billboards, nor is it, or should it be limited to thirty second jingle tunes on the radio, accompanied on tv by a short clip.

The Sharing Movement is not about the promotion of goods, services, or values for the purpose of collecting a profit. It is a wider social movement to promote a cultural and very human need to be socially connected, through the act of sharing.

The origin of the Sharing Movement is from a cultural and human need to socially connect.

The sharing movement itself does not start, nor does it end with the physical act of sharing either – it starts with a mindset within us, as well as the understanding of what we are doing, and why.

Some people share because they feel great doing it, since altruistic acts in human behaviour actually help to propagate the altruist’s genes in the race for survival in the natural selection process. In certain cultures, sharing is seen as both a form of wealth redistribution, as well as promotion of the largesse of the patron who shares his wealth with others, hence their ability to share material goods.

But looking beyond just personal feelings as well as creating social value for ourself, sharing is about connecting people in an egalitarian manner. This is not about the promotion of our largesse, or the promotion of other’s largesse, but about us, and another person forming a connection through the need for a physical item. This connection can be formed only in the most personal of settings, as it requires trust as a currency, and trusting people is the first step to a closer community of friends, neighbours, and family.

These connections cannot be forced upon people, coerced onto people, nor can they be really effective, since being friendly, and being friendly and trusting are two different things altogether.

How we can truly see this is through ad campaigns for a friendlier neighbourhood, which rarely work. What does work however, are events where social value is created and trust slowly but surely formed amongst community members.

Sometimes, these events are initiated by the local council, made up of more outgoing members of the community, and other times, the local government(rarely).

Most of the time, these kinds of events, such as barbeque cook-outs, communal celebrations and observations of religious, cultural, or ethnic festivals open to everyone in the community are usually started by people in the community.

These are simple, yet effective tools to open up people to the idea of a sharing community that is there for every member to utilise and support.

Barbeques, celebrations and gatherings aren’t too hard to organize for someone of average means are they? yet they are the ties that bind, that hold a sharing community together.

youYet, all these need not be started by companies. Nor governments. These can be started by you.

The people you come with into contact daily, as well as the people you talk to, can be part of the sharing movement, but you have to speak out, and more than just talk about what being part of the sharing movement means, to also act on it.

Share when you can, with the people you can

If everyone did their part, and practiced sharing in their own corner of the world, soon, communities of people accustomed to sharing naturally and consciously will form.

And then, growth of the sharing mindset will increase exponentially, since ideas spread like wildfire.

Ideas are powerful, and so are actions. Alone, you cannot reach the moon, but with friends, neighbours, and other people who share, connecting groups of people will become easier, and more viable, not just economically, but physically as well as socially.



The Sharing Economy in Diverse Places

In many places, people tend to overlook that doing business is a given right. To own a start-up, to be able to legally operate one, as well as find business partners without having to resort to underground or illicit methods in doing so are all taken for granted.

In most countries, sharing economy start-ups fall in between the grey area of semi-legal to being governed by unclear laws, regulations and jurisdictions.

In others, most, if not all businesses are banned or made illegal due to strict property laws (Cuba for example, where property cannot be sold) and sharing businesses as a result pop up to feed growing hospitality and tourism industries.


The two main sectors affected by such developments in the legal landscape are also the biggest by far, ride-sharing and home-sharing or property-sharing. These are sometimes not strictly speaking, sharing economy start-ups, but they do fall under that category.

A point to note is that while the sharing economy has its roots in a non-profit driven model, to operate in a market driven economy and to deal with costs, start-ups have adapted their business model to generate some form of revenue to keep their costs covered.

As such, some have evolved completely from a non-profit driven model to a for profit sharing startup model. While revenue is needed to cover costs, profits should not be the be all and end all goal of sharing start-ups, and many would do well to remember that.

One country to look at where an organic model of the sharing economy has taken root for some years due to an eclectic mix of factors is Cuba. Yes, surprisingly, it’s Cuba.

Cuba has a slow but very steady growing tourism industry, with tourism bringing in hard cash in the form of US dollars and Euros. In Cuba, the monthly government salary is about 10 US dollars a month, with the local Cuban currency being worth a lot less on the international market.


However, since buying and selling property is not permitted in Cuba, as well as development and refurbishment of existing hotels and other residential properties is quite difficult due to the embargo, enterprising Cubans have turned to renting out their houses and villas in a sharing economy style arrangement for profit.

One night at a Cuban villa, paid in US dollars, or the local equivalent can be a monthly salary and more for a Cuban homeowner. The way this is done is simple – the owners of the house get people who usually guide tourists around at the airport to recommend them their rooms, or villas, as well as distributing their business cards to any potential customers.

Casa particular (Spanish for “private house”) is a phrase meaning private accommodation or private homestays in Cuba. As a result of more government action, Cubans are now also allowed to rent out their rooms to tourists. 

Casa Particulars

The difference between an Airbnb apartment and a casa particular is simple – you rent a room online via Airbnb, you get the keys, the owner shows you the house, and then you stay there. It’s a transaction.

Casa particulars however, have their owners still living in them alongside you in an actual sharing arrangement. As such, you can ask them where to visit, or request breakfast or dinner cooked for you at a agreed rate. Perhaps, this is what sharing should have been?

This is not to suggest that the sharing economy should be limited, or that it should be kept small scale and not be able to scale up. But the fact still remains that the sharing economy at its core is meant to serve a very human need – to be able to distribute resources efficiently while putting people in touch with other people, not acting as a platform for just transactions, but also for the human connection.

Ride-sharing done different

A great example of another start-up going back to the sharing economy roots is based in Austin, Texas. Now, if you remember correctly – America is a hot battleground for the two largest ride-sharing app start-ups in the world, Uber and Lyft. However, both companies have been stopped dead in their tracks in Austin Texas, as the saying goes, because the town ain’t big enough for the both of them.

Austin, Texas is really large, it’s just that the city has rules limiting and regulating ridesharing companies. Now, this rule isn’t so much related to worker welfare, or pay at all, but rather was about identification and private data concerning drivers.

Due to this, both Uber and Lyft have stopped operating in the city till now.

Enter RideAustin, a not-for-profit app that follows the regulations as well as has a heart for the local poor and needy. RideAustin has the feature for riders to round up their fares to the next dollar, with the difference in the actual amount and rounded up amount being donated to a charity of the rider’s choice.

There’s also another interesting feature that deals with the revenue and finance side of things – Uber is famous for its surge pricing model, and it’s a model that people think of when they hear of the sharing economy. However, RideAustin has made it entirely optional. Riders who pay the surge pricing of course, get first pick of rides, but riders can also choose to wait it out in the virtual queue of people waiting for a ride.

So far – RideAustin starts all their operations in June, having already had the support of local companies who have prepaid for rides along with donations from private locals to fund this venture.

Perhaps, this time, David will beat Goliath again?


Peer-to-Peer Library of Things

We’ve talked about libraries of things – and here we have our very own app for you to start your very own library of things!

A library of things is simple, and like any other library, a sorted collection of items. Most of the time, libraries refer to public or private collections of books. Libraries of things, however, unlike treasure hoards of old, are meant to be shared, and wealth and value in them spread amongst friends and family, and the people you know and love in your community by and large.

Think of it as a way of connecting with the people you know and trust, and on top of that, aiding them materially, and with a more personal touch. Giving people money and trading amongst your community for mutual profit is fine and all, but nothing says “I care for you, and I trust you” more than a cashless loan of a good, tool, or valuable item.

But like all libraries, it can be hard to keep up an inventory, especially with so many books. Books themselves are tough to manage and categorize – by weight, size, topic, and age range. Now, think about that in the context of a library of things. That’s where modern technology meets old school caring and sharing.

With Lendogram, you can organize the items you need, and keep track of what you have, and what your friends, family, and people you know have. On top of that, you can then keep track of what you have already loaned out, as well as what you need to loan from others, since you can view their items too.


Now, think about it this way. our app isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just making it easier to share what you have with the people you care for and trust, and for them to share their stuff with you too.

Every item loaned out can be checked on Lendogram, and any item available to be loaned out can also be checked. This simply means that if you need a tent, or ski bag for your weekend trip for example, you can check if your friends have it on Lendogram, and share it, instead of having to manually call everyone or for most situations – spend more money to buy something you only use once or twice.

You won’t have to waste your time going all the way down to the store to look for the equipment that you might not need, or might not use after this weekend. Just look at your iPhone, open up the app and send a request to your friends for what you need!

We’re not forgetting that in all this – there is a very human element to it all. When you loan something from a trusted friend, neighbour, or family member, you are not just simply borrowing an item and strengthening an already exchanging mutually beneficial relationship; you are also tapping into the skills and stories of another person in your circle.

Items in history museums on exhibit are always intriguing, and even more so because items that are deeply personal are usually marked with some form of personal symbols, or words usually. These, together with the context of the time period, along with the supposed purpose of the item tell a story of the person’s journey through a time period.

Now – you can have that same effect, but instead of relying on a small plaque explaining and telling stories about the owner, you can ask your neighbour who looks bookish why she has a drawknife and woodworking tools, and you might find out why she has them and more about herself! She might be a skilled woodworker herself, or she might have inherited them from her grandfather who was a Polish carpenter, who knows!

Now, keep in mind that Lendogram does not limit itself to solely tools or sporting equipment. Books, toys, children clothing, cooking pots, pans, party equipment, baskets, printing and silkscreen machines, electronics all these and more can be loaned out. If some items are too heavy to move or too expensive to repair because they are prone to damage when used improperly, take it as just another chance to get to know the person(s) who are loaning them from you on another level!

Offer to help them, to teach them, and you create value through another person learning another skill from your stuff. Now, isn’t that great?

The Value of Generosity

Very often, we find ourselves at the short end of the stick in a deal, bargain, or enterprise, or even simple transactions in our daily lives.

Sometimes, we feel cheated of our rightful estates, possessions, holdings, or value in a transaction.

That’s not a very pleasant feeling is it? Sometimes, it feels like we get less than what we deserve, and what little we have should be kept, guarded well, and hoarded if it seems, and only shared sparingly.

Is there someone to blame for this mindset and culture? Some people argue that it is only human nature to seek an advantage to gain it over others. Some even go so far to say that selfishness, is a trait that is common in the well to do, the rich, the disciplined, and the fiscally prudent. Some also call it fiscal discipline.

Well, it may be one of these things, and it may be all of these things, but let’s not forget that correlation does not mean causation. In essence, just because you’re rich, means you’re selfish, and just because you’re selfish, means you’re more likely to be rich.

Good news? Hardly. But let’s take a look at the other camp shall we.

Giving and generosity have been equated (mostly) with being a good person or individual, and is usually associated with charity, is it not? But what if I told you – it’s not always the case, and that perhaps, giving and generosity is not just good for character building and the soul, but also for your own gain too?

The sharing economy, the barter economy, and communities who actively promote trust and generosity amongst its members are active members and examples of this hypothesis.

In barter economies, goods are exchanged for each other. However, in many transactions, you can’t exactly rely on the exact value of goods exchanged to form a fair transaction, as you can’t split the goods to give out the remaining amount of value. For example, you need 3 pots and you have a cow to trade it for, and it’s a milk cow so slaughtering it to split its meat up is not fiscally prudent.


Your neighbour has three pots. Now, you want to trade the cow for the three pots, but the cow is worth at least twenty times the pots. You have nothing else to trade with, so you can either record the transaction as a loss, or a debt owed to you by your neighbour in the form of pots.

That would be odd, especially if everyone kept a tally in different forms measuring values indebted via various commodities like pots, which is also the reason money was invented, but we’ll get to that later.

So, what you could do, is be generous and take the pots, give the cow to your neighbour, who then feels indebted to you with gratitude, making it easier for the both of you to work together and help each other in other business or industrial activities anyway.

Generosity – in itself, is also a sign that the giver is able and wealthy enough to give. Basically, the giver becomes a patron. But practiced within a community, it encourages trust.

If there is a doubt that generosity itself is not a natural trait, here’s proof that it is.

In evolutionary survival – the best and most robust methods are the ones which involve generosity and co-operation.

Researchers Alexander J. Stewart and Joshua B. Plotkin from Pennsylvania’s Department of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences, examined the outcome of the Prisoner’s Dilemma when played repeatedly by a large, evolving group of players.

While other researchers have previously suggested that being cooperative can be successful, Stewart and Plotkin offer ‘mathematical proof’ that the only strategies that succeed in the long term are generous ones.

In this version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, only successful players would be allowed to proceed on to the next round, but with one caveat! The players who won would get to have more “offspring”, meaning that they would be able to have more players representing them in the next game.

It should also be noted that they were able to communicate and teach their “offspring” on their strategies.

Over the course of the experiment, the only strategies that survived were the ones that not only relied on co-operation alone, but also involved generosity and forgiveness on the part of the players involved.

In comparison, the other strategy that a player can employ is an extortion strategy, basically, to take short term gain, by using the current situation for personal gain at the expense of other players. Sounds familiar?

Well – employing this strategy allows for the best possible immediate outcome; but in the long run, affects the entire group, as the selfishness is reciprocated, and in the end, no one truly gains the most.

So, instead of a head-to-head competition, the researchers applied this to a group of people playing against one another(compared to a prisoner’s dilemma where it is 1-1), to realistically simulate communities and groups of people.

During the research, it was found that these extortion strategies don’t work well if played within a larger group of people who interact with each other, and not just between two people, because an extortion strategy doesn’t succeed when played against itself.

However. in generous strategies, players tend to cooperate with their opponents more, and are generous in their aid; and they also tend to forgive players who are selfish over time, as compared to excluding them completely. E.g, you help me, and I’ll help you, and we both win.

Using tests on how some generous strategies would work in a community of people, the researchers crafted a mathematical formula proving that, not only can generous strategies work best in this version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, but also that these are the only strategies that resist individual selfish people in the test group and continue to endure.

These findings were reported in the PNAS journal.

In short – generosity is not a zero sum game.

Giving doesn’t mean you lose out – it only means you build relationships within group of people where all of you prosper more by working together, compared to your chances of prospering if you were to be selfish and look out only for yourself.

Isn’t it only natural that a sharing app like ours is an extension of human nature to share and be generous then instead of just looking out for yourself?


Library of Things

As we head into the new future of consumerism and increased personal gain, are there any places in our communities, lives and homes that we can share? A place where one can lend, borrow, and trust in the goodwill of the neighbour and community to repay in kind with trust and goodwill too?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that places like these are more common than you think.

If you look closely, these places are not just publicly owned in name, but also in deed, meaning to say, some are community run and funded, while others are government funded, but the community usually decides on how to run the organization, what to lend and how.

You see, the key lynchpin to making a library of things, as we call them, is trust. Trust in the community you live in, as well as in the stewards of the library. let us share with you three delightful examples we have found.

ThingsThe public book libraries of Sacramento

The public book library of Sacramento, is a government funded library that actually functions as both a library for books, and a library for things.

The part of the Sacramento Public Library that loans out items is similar to how it loans out books. A member of the library needs to fill out a form to loan the ‘thing’ as they call it, and they can then be loaned out the lender for up to 3 weeks. If that period is not long enough – it can be borrowed up to 6 times, in which case, the need for the item should have passed.

This library chooses what items will be available to the public by how portable the item is, how valuable it is, as well as the number of votes from valid members as to the items that they want.

The items are then either donated, or bought using state money for this public programme to be available for loaning out, or to be used.

A small list of the items available : Board games, Video games, Sewing Machines, 3D printers, button maker, laminators, screen printers, musical instruments, GoPro cameras, a serger for professional stitching, and a bike repair station.

They have a full online catalogue of items available, some items can be used in the library only, such as the bike repair station, the 3D printer, as well as the Serger. For the reasons that they are higher in value and harder to operate and set up, these are kept at the library.

The Library of Things is located at Arcade Library at 2443 Marconi Ave. in Sacramento.

The Library of Things in Berlin

Berlin! Such a place with rich history, always breaking down barriers between people, and they’re doing it again, with the Laila Project, which is a library of things in the purest sense.

The Laila project is staffed by a volunteer who goes by Mr Nikolai Wolfert, who is a volunteer there.

If you ever wonder what the motivations were behind his store, he says “The average electric drill is used for 13 minutes in its entire lifetime – how does it make sense to buy something like that? It’s much more efficient to share it”.

That’s typical German efficiency for you! But apart from that, take a look at Leila on a deeper scale, and you’ll find that he’s actually a member of the Green party, and after they lost their local elections, he decided that he could do something for his community based off his political beliefs for the good of the community.

Thus, the Laila project was born. The Laila project is similar to other library of things – items get loaned out, and items are donated in, and to be part of the project to access items, you need to first donate something. The items range from useful, to quirky – drills to unicycles.

Mr Nikolai emphasises that it isn’t just about charity – it’s about efficiency, for more people, to use less. That’s the way to go isn’t it?

Library of Things in the UK

The Library of Things in the UK  started in West Norwood, South London in 2014, when friends Emma, James and Bex ran a pilot scheme in a library after visiting a borrowing shop in Berlin.

Similar to the project run by the Sacramento Public Library, the initial project by friends Emma, James and Bex met with success and an overwhelmingly positive response from the community, not just as a means of resource sharing and distribution, but also as a means of community bonding, interaction, and learning. Simply put – you can borrow a circular saw, but first you’ll have to learn how to use it from someone who does?

After that, they decided to pitch the idea to the general public online for funding via Kickstarter, and have raised £15,000 for this new library from 248 people.

They aim to set up a new library of things with these funds in South London, as well as making a toolkit to help others start their own library of things.

Do you know of other initiatives on Library of Things? Have you been thinking about starting one in your community? Comment below or contact us: hello{at}lendogram{dot}com.



The intrinsic vs. market value of what you own

Have you ever considered why you pay more for some goods, rather than others, and how the prices for these goods are made, and more importantly: What do they mean?

The answer here; simply put, is value.

Value is such a subjective and fluid term we use these days. Housing values, car values, and for some of us, family values and the like.

But here, we examine what we call, monetary value, and how it does not necessarily equate to the value that is intrinsic and unique to you, and your needs.

Let’s start with the most basic assumption of value – that value is a measure of how much something is worth. A price tag therefore, is then nothing but an equally agreed measure of value in monetary terms.

Or is it? Who sets these prices? Why can’t we agree on prices between the providers of these goods and services between ourselves instead of having to rely on figures that seem to just pop out of nowhere?

Well – here’s a spot of good news, the liberalization of information provided through the internet, and modern communications available through the implementation of the internet and other communication technologies has enabled us to get to an age where it is possible, for you to get what you need at the best possible value.

Do notice I said value, I didn’t say price. Why? Because monetary values fluctuate, and don’t always form a fair and beneficial exchange or transfer of value between both parties involved in the trades, or transactions.

Simply put – you might be paying far more than what something is worth when you really need it. I’m pretty sure that has happened to everyone at some point of time hasn’t it!

Why buy something that’s worth three day’s wages when you only need to use it for a day at best? Why? Because you need it, that’s truth, isn’t it.

But what if – there could be a way that you could borrow what you need for a day from someone you know and then later if they need something desperately, they could borrow it from you?

Let’s say you need to plan a nice dinner for your future in-laws, and you don’t have proper table settings. You really want to make a good first impression. But being the actual frugal and thoughtful person you are, you don’t want to spend a lot of money buying best dishes, silver and tablecloth that will only be used once.

Well, turns out your friends have everything you need and you can just borrow what you need for the night and not have to buy anything you won’t use again.

Right now, the table settings are very valuable to you because you need them more than your friends do. And another day, one of your friends will need the whisking machine that’s sitting in your drawer un-used and they will need it more than you do that day. You can share these items together.

So you see, that’s how intrinsic value of an item can quickly change, but not be reflected in the market value, since when you need the table settings, you’d probably let the whisking machine go for a few bucks. But if you did, those few bucks wouldn’t be enough to cover the cost of buying proper table settings for your family dinner.

So perhaps, we could reflect on the value that exists in our existing network of friends and family and how we can leverage and use it by sharing our stuff more. Something that’s not useful and has little value to us at this moment could be very valuable to a friend who really needs it right now. On top of that, consider if you will, how this shared network of items creates less waste for our planet.

Think creatively when you need something for an event or just a day, show you care for the planet and reach out to your friends and family to borrow what you need. There’s even a sharing app for that 😀
Happy Sharing!