Amid the exponential and chaotic growth of online business and mass consumption, is an ancient concept that is reemerging and gaining momentum to become the most powerful and disruptive idea in existence. The concept: Sharing. The working title: Collaborative Consumption. The time: NOW!
Most of you are already participating and contributing to the collaborative consumption movement without explicitly realizing that what you are taking part of is changing the world as we know it. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify have already made their mark and continue to transform our lives. The global business landscape is littered with the former incumbents of industries turned upside by new collaborative models. Newspapers? Crippled. Advertising industry? Unrecognizable. Music tycoons? Suing teenagers for “illegal” file sharing. Up-and-comers like Airbnb, Zipcar, Coursera (among an army of others) are smashing our conceived notions of the hotel, auto, and higher education industries literally right before our eyes. It won’t be long before collaborative consumption takes aim at energy (bye bye OPEC), manufacturing (sorry China, 3D printing has arrived), and telecom (paying for mobile is so 2000 and late). Even venture capital and traditional banking are being sidestepped as crowd sourced fundraising models are turning dreams into realities and projects into businesses. Get ready for a monumental paradigm shift.
Right here in Barcelona, Prepárate, Bicing, Avancar, and host of newcomers are ushering in a new world where ownership is no longer a pre-requisite for successful living. With the crisis going on year 5 and no sign of letting up, we have seen the rapid reemergence of time banks as people demand creative new avenues to push themselves towards individual and community advancement without waiting on scandalous politicians and stingy big business to spur economic growth. This week, we met with Gloria Molins as her startup Trip4Real puts traditional tourism in the crosshairs and offers travelers the unique, customized vacation of their dreams.
Even beyond where we stand today, some futurists are pushing even further to bring about the real sharing economy. A new world order as society shifts further away form a centralized power structure towards a true sharing economy driven by a peer-to-peer network that exists far beyond monetary and political constraints. The way they see it, our current model of collaborative consumption has already peaked and been reeled back in by traditional models of capitalism and top-down economic control. Zipcar – acquired by Avis. Airbnb – took the money and ran. The argument that venture capital is contaminating the waters of the real sharing economy is worth our attention.
At the country level, Spain is actually a long-time leader in this space as cooperative business and communities have been commonplace for decades. The regions with the most co-op activity are showing lower unemployment and higher quality of life than the rest of the country. For an interesting case study, take a look the history and evolution of Mondragon from the 1950s until today. The cooperative nature of The Mondragon Corporation is massively appealing as the rest of Europe is hitting record unemployment and budget deficits.
No matter where you turn, you can see the effects and implications the sharing economy is having on our world and it’s only just begun (well, re-born). As I write, and try to keep myself in the present, I realize this is too large a movement to capture in just one post. Collaborative consumption and the sharing economy will likely become an ongoing theme for Barcinno and a dynamic series that can hopefully keep up with the changing of the tide.
On Monday, May 13th, ESADE will be hosting a conference on Collaborative Consumption featuring local strategists and startups helping us conceptualize and bring about the necessary change for the new sharing economy.
We welcome all of your ideas, thoughts, suggestions, and commentary as what we are witnessing is a truly epic socio-economic shift and not to be restricted to any one voice, organization, industry, culture, country, or continent. Share forward!