In 2013 I saw all those upcoming start-ups in the US that were part of the “sharing economy”. What was new was the fact that not only firms rented out things (e.g. cars) but also individuals. That was a major shift in the whole business process – and a huge chance. But there were also many start-ups coming up in Germany operating in the same field as Sharely.ch (sharing everyday objects), and people seemed to love the new offering. We hold talks with all of our friends and got the feeling that the time was ripe for Sharely. Of course, it was not going to be that easy after all. We have been live now for 15 months and are still trying to increase the number of “renters”. It’s much easier to find the demand than the supply (objects).
What are the biggest challenges that you are facing right now?
In contrast to a normal webshop, Sharely (just as other start-ups in the sharing economy as well) not only has to create the demand side but also the offering. Only if we have enough objects in close proximity to our potential customers there will be renting requests. That’s the challeging part about our business. In addition, Switzerland is a small market and we need a high market penetration in order to get our business off the ground. However, we are confident that we will succeed. True to the maxim “The path is the true destination” we are enjoying the exciting discussions, meetings and experiences we make!
However, what has surprised you the most?
Actually there are two things. On the one hand, we very much appreciate the openness in the whole start-up scene. Other founders are willing to talk about their experiences and mistakes and offer tips on how to do it better. That was and is fascinating – and that’s what we try to do as well. On the other hand, we were amazed to see the the large range of products that are rented out on Sharely. We have ten categories on our platform but every day new and surprising objects are uploaded. We want to set only a few binding guidelines for Sharely in order to retain the wide range of “Alltagsgegenstände”. It turns out that our users are uploading stuff they do not need every day – which is exactly the idea behind Sharely.
Did you ever have to refuse certain objects?
Yes, but only 5 to 10 in total so far. Sharely focuses on “every day objects” and we refuse only 3 types of objects. a) houses, flats ond other real estates b) cars and c) of course objects that are not appropriate. We reject houses and cars due to insurance issues. We once had to refuse a Ferrari but people fully understand when we explain them why we (have to) do it. For houses and cars there are more suitable platforms such as Airbnb or Sharoo – Sharely covers all other types of objects.
Are there many objects that are never leased by anyone?
Of course it takes some time to rent out the own objects. When we set up Sharely we made sure to set the right incentives. The registration and the upload of objects is free as users should not “lose” money during the time the objects are not rented out. Sharely only earns some money when the owner also earns money. So it may happen that an object is not leased for some time and suddenly a user creates a renting request – something we often observe. That’s the idea behind Sharely: we want to create a huge library of objects which is available to all people in Switzerland. Because sharing stuff makes sense both for ecological and for economical reasons. Why should every household own the same things?
Learn more about Sharely: