Welcome to Vancity Futures, a new monthly column that focuses on the technological changes in the world, what they mean for all of us here in Vancouver, and the wider implications in the world.
My name is Nikolas Badminton and I’m a Futurist and speaker. I have been working in the software, R&D, management consultancy, and advertising worlds for over 18 years. I write and speak about how the world will change in the next five, 10, and 25-plus years. This column will provide new insights to the ever changing world for you.
We’re kicking off with ‘Vancity Futures: The app and sharing revolution,’ a focus in on the buzz around what is happening with the rise of the app economy and how the sharing economy is changing how we consume and share.
The app economy
In 2007, Steve Jobs took to the stage to announce the iPhone that “changes everything.” Then, in 2008 he introduced the app store and changed every facet of how we interact.
Benedict Evans, from the Venture Capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, most recently announced that “Mobile is eating the world.” And it’s true. From 2008 until 2015 we have seen over 100 billion apps downloaded from the Apple App Store alone. Pick up your phone and you’re likely to have over 20 apps right there vying for your attention. It’s ingrained in our culture.
If we just look at Facebook and its movement into mobile then we see two of the biggest revolutions to have hot the world. They bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 (that was more than the market cap of the NY Times at the time) and changed the photography landscape forever. They now have over 400 million users uploading photos. They then bought WhatsApp for $19 billion (in stock and cash) in 2014 and now drive the enablement of over seven trillion messages each year. And they are free to use for all.
But, I think the biggest advancement is beyond filtered pictures, selfies, social networking and communications. It’s in business and the systems that help us run society. It’s an exciting time and also a double-edged sword.
The rise of the sharing economy
The sharing economy (also know as the Collaborative Economy) is an economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. The sharing economy model is most likely to be used when the price of a particular asset is high and the asset is not fully utilized all the time (definition courtesy of Investopedia).
Many entrepreneurs have realized that there is a huge opportunity to take some of the things we have available and make them accessible online, and they have developed mobile apps and web platforms to help us all connect. Doing work as a freelancer, renting your home as a landlord, driving your car as an on-demand taxi driver, offering your possessions to be borrowed for a few hours, and offloading unwanted goods for sale online are all commonplace these days. The world has dropped barriers of entry to many things on all levels. This video provides a little story that illustrates this nicely:
And this just scratches the surface. There are many things that can be shared and services that can be easily connected with. The team down at Crowd Companies have compiled a list in their Collaborative Economy Honeycomb.
(click the image to see a larger version)
Health and Wellness, Goods, Municipal Services, Logistics, Corporate, Utilities, Space, Food, Transportation, Personal and Business Service, and Learning are all being revolutionized. These companies have thrown away existing thinking on how to get things done and are breaking down barriers (and sometimes even the law) to progress the world in the right direction. It’s about personal power. This is great news for people wanting to create their own business, and Brian Chesky, CEO of AirBNB, has said:
We used to live in a world were there people, private citizens, a world where there are businesses, and now we’re living in a world where people can become businesses in 60 seconds.
That’s all well and good but what does the sharing economy mean for us here in Vancouver? I think we should all see a world of opportunity, and it’s time to step up create that work life you’ve always wanted. Here are three areas you can start to look at:
1. Start your own company and run it from wherever you are.
If you have a smartphone and credit card you can start and build your business from your home, or even on the road. You can get a website up and running using freelance talent, kickstart an eCommerce business, or get content produced online quickly, cheaply, and easily. You have all the tools you need to get going in the palm of your hand. You could even just drive an UBER (if you’re not being stopped by municipal government) to augment your income and rent your spare room out on AirBNB to save on rental costs.
2. Be more creative and take your passion projects to the next level.
Maybe you’re an artist or create amazing jewelry then sell it on Etsy? Maybe you find amazing clothing at thrift stores and flip them on eBay? Maybe you’re a designer that freelances from the beach in Bali on freelancer platforms? The world is your oyster and you can offer your services through any number of freelancer or design store platforms.
3. Balance out the cost of living by sharing what you have.
Share your bike, your home, your couch, your care, your tools, or whatever. So many things are lying around doing nothing for us. It’s time to monetize them and maybe have a little extra cash on hand.
Despite the opportunities, this can all be a little overwhelming and scary however there can be a new way of life for those ready to embrace the app and sharing economies. Time to experiment and create a new way of living.