Sharing is daring: mapping the disruption economy

Story highlights

Peer-to-peer business is thriving and disrupting business as usual

The model is spreading through global industries such as transport, fitness and style

Entrepreneurs share insights about why sharing is needed

CNN  — 

We are increasingly comfortable with strangers sleeping in our beds, nibbling our leftovers, and taking our prized possessions for a spin. Growing numbers of us are willing to serve as bank, teacher or travel agent to people we have never met, and entrust them to serve us in turn.

The sharing economy represents the most seismic change for business since the Industrial Revolution, says Benita Matofska, founder of Compare and Share, which manages a global directory of peer-to-peer companies, which numbers over 7,000 and is growing every day.

Motofska defines the model as “fundamentally disruptive, based on sharing human or physical resources, and using innovative technologies to connect people.”

This movement is driven by “Generation Share” - the subsector of millennials that choose to access goods rather than own them. People that think “why have a car for the 23 hours a day you are not using it?”

Although consumption by sharing may be less extravagant, rich rewards are available to the adaptable entrepreneur. Peer-to-peer rental is worth an estimated $26 billion each year, with poster-boy Airbnb valued at $10 billion. Creative disruption is spreading through global industries – this is how it is transforming the landscape.

Travel and experience

Airbnb has inspired competitors, making remote destinations and experiences ever more accessible. At the value end of the market, Couchsurfing have grown to seven million members with its no-frills approach. Luxury tastes are also catered for through start-ups such as Boatbound, which offers sailing holidays in exotic locations. There is a growing market for companies offering local guides for tourists.

Entrepreneur view:

“This levels the playing field by empowering anyone to make a living monetizing their time and knowledge, and giving freelancers and individuals market share in lucrative industries like tourism, which until now have been monopolized by traditional companies.” Jamie Wong, CEO, Vayable.

Skills and services

Whether you need a Spanish lesson or someone to clean the fridge, service exchange businesses allow clients to trade services from the mundane to highly specialized, with leading business Skillshare having raised over $10 million. More ambitious schemes allow for collaborative community projects, with a developing trend to creating shared workspaces.

Entrepreneur view:

“We’re bringing back the old-school concept of neighbors helping neighbors. People have relied on their neighbors to get things done for generations…(to) mow their lawn or a watch their children. TaskRabbit is facilitating these real-world connections.” Jamie Viggiano, Director of Marketing, TaskRabbit.


Global giant Uber has made waves and enemies in the taxi business with the success of its citizen-operated fleet, and it has been joined in this new markets by innovative competitors such as Lyft. The market has subsequently spread into luxury options, with a thriving sub-trade in parking spaces.

Entrepreneur view:

“90% of Sidecar rides in San Francisco are sharable (within 5 minutes away from each other) so the environmental implications have the potential to be profound. Shared Rides takes cars off the road, saves space by curbing the need for parking, cuts down on traffic and congestion and stress on our city’s infrastructure and reduces pollution.” Margaret Ryan, Head of Communications, Sidecar.


The swap scene is teeming with start-ups offering the opportunity for millions of people to swap tired garments and give them a new lease of life. Swapstyle offers an exchange service for designer clothes, Renttherunway provide high-end outfits for rent.

Entrepreneur view:

“Rental is a way for consumers to extract all the value with none of the headaches; women can now easily wear more relevant, trend led, time-sensitive fashions, while continuing to invest and buy only in those classic pieces which will stand the test of time.” Anna Bance, Co-founder, Girl Meets Dress.


In the fast-growing field of quantified self movement, technology is allowing communities to participate in exercise routines. Collaborative cycling and running companies such as Spinlister are on the rise, while emerging player Fitmob, which has raised $10 million, provides a humane alternative to the gym.

Entrepreneur view:

“Everybody says they want a personal trainer but in reality the vast majority of trainers are severely underemployed. Most people with gym memberships hardly use them! The movement toward flexibility in exercise can tackle some of our epidemic health problems and will transform the field.” Raj Kapoor, CEO, Fitmob.

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