Trendspotting: The Era of E-Sharing

10/10/12Follow @sramana

From sharing maternity clothing to sharing car rides, this seems to be the era of sharing, and the Internet is playing the role of the grand facilitator. A few people have already spotted the trend and are coming up with new ideas.

Three such companies presented their products to me in the 1M/1M roundtables over past couple of months. Two of them are currently 1M/1M premium members: Drummond Gilbert pitched goCarShare in May 2012, Erin Lewis presented Fashion Forward Maternity in July 2012, and Marie-Janine Saris pitched Home Swappers Club in September 2011. Three entrepreneurs pitching e-sharing ventures in a short span clearly indicates how the popularity of eSharing is increasing among consumers.

Let’s explore more and see what the offerings in e-sharing sector are.

GoCarShare

GoCarShare was presented by Drummond Gilbert in a roundtable held at London’s TechHub and won a yearlong scholarship which was sponsored by A&N Media. goCarShare connects drivers with the passengers who are going to travel along the same route; the website allows people to share the cost of travel. Car owners can make empty seats generate extra income, and people who will be traveling the same way can share the cost and use the car. Win-Win for all.

GoCarShare uses Facebook to connect users and expand the community; a rating system helps to build a trusted network of drivers and passengers. GoCarShare takes a 15 percent commission on the transactions that take place between the driver and the passengers.

The market is quite competitive too. But goCarShare has already got over 100 partnerships with major festivals, events and universities. Partners include Reading and Leeds Festivals, the Edinburgh Festival, and St Andrews University. Festivals have promoted innovative initiatives to encourage ridesharing; a few such initiatives are goCarShare Priority Car Parks, Empty Car Seat Taxis and chances to win VIP tickets.

Carpooling and BlaBlaCar are the major competitors of goCarShare in the UK. CommuteEasy is another player in this field. Based in India, they started operations in 2006 and have more than 20,000 active users now. Zimride and Ridejoy are two US based companies operating in the same domain.

Fashion Forward Maternity

Rent, Enjoy, Return, and Share – that perfectly explains Fashion Forward Maternity. Erin Lewis, co-founder of Fashion Forward Maternity, presented it to me in July and won a 1M/1M scholarship, which was sponsored by A&N Media and Elance. Erin is from Colorado. Fashion Forward Maternity is an e-commerce business for renting maternity clothing. The concept has already been accepted in other domains such as baby clothing and toys.

Coping with maternity clothes is a dilemma for every mother. Some borrow clothes that don’t fit their style and body, some manage with cheap dresses, even for work, and some spend a lot to buy suitable maternity clothes, only to be discarded in a few months. At Fashion Forward Maternity, all of them can find suitable clothes, which they return after using. Fashion Forward Maternity has already partnered with brands like Maternal America, Olian, Paige Denim, Seraphine, and BellyButton. All the returned clothes are cleaned by a third party cleaner using green cleaning techniques to make sure there is no health risk to the pregnant or nursing mothers.

Fashion Forward Maternity was 100 percent bootstrapped. They made revenue in the very first month and … Next Page »

Sramana Mitra is the founder of One Million by One Million (1M/1M), a global virtual incubator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Sramana has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Follow @sramana

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