Neal Gorenflo is the co-founder and editor of “Shareable” a non-profit online magazine focused on sharing and evolving social innovation. He recently gave a conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina on wealth sharing by highlighting the potential of decision making and ownership.
Q: How would you describe the sharing economy?
A: Currently, the sharing economy crystallizes around technology and is found mainly on exchange platforms that help people live a lifestyle where access is more important than ownership.
Thus, technology is no longer the centre of the story, it is the users and their interactions that become their ways to reorganize their lives, their communities, and cities to share resources and strengthen the economy.
Q: Can we consider Uber and Airbnb as sharing economies?
A: In many ways yes! There can be a very positive peer-to-peer dynamism. The concern is that all profits fall mainly into the hands of these two companies.
These benefits should be shared more equitably.
Q: Uber is now under control in Buenos Aires City, what is your opinion on the issue?
A: The concept of Uber was good at the base. The problem lies in their ethics and business practices. I say yes to the idea of services like Uber, but I say no to this kind of predatory behaviour.
Q: How do you work with states and governments to raise awareness of the sharing economy?
A: Cities can work together and implement policies and similar platforms. They can create their own software for their citizens according to their needs. The technology used by Airbnb and Uber is not very sophisticated. It is therefore not a technological barrier, but they need to have a more political will.
Q: Most start-ups based on sharing of the economy have now grown a lot. How to maintain the values of the sharing economy?
A: When Airbnb was a “young shoot” before the money starts coming in, it was just cheaper, more funny and friendly. Thereafter, they focused on growth at the expense of experience and long-time users have noticed this change. But this is not inevitable! There are platforms that run on which users and suppliers are the owners and decision makers.
Q: What are the main challenges ahead for the sharing economy?
A: We should not ask what is good for the economy; we should ask ourselves what is good for us as human beings.
The question is how we can use the sharing economy to achieve our personal and social goals. This is the greatest challenge.
Q: Which areas could benefit from the sharing economy?
A: A plethora. Education, health care, and child care could gain a lot by using the sharing economy.
Q: What advice would you give to an entrepreneur who wants to become more involved in the sharing economy?
A: If you want to gain a competitive advantage and expand your service quickly, the best way is to give ownership and decision making to your users.