3 Platforms to Start Your Own Sharing Service

Robust participation in a sharing economy requires connection—to share, people must be able to interact with one another to identify resources and ways to move goods and services.

If you've spent anytime on Shareable, you've probably noticed that there are a growing number of places to go on the web (and elsewhere) to find people to share with. But unlike services that are for a specific commodity or service — think Airbnb for sharing homes or Taskrabbit for services — these P2P “white-label” online platforms are designed to make it easy for anyone create their own marketplace to share any commodity or service imaginable.

Here are three picks from Shareable:

1. Near Me

Near Me offers a peer-to-peer marketplace platform that does not require any coding on the part of the user. Users access the system via an intuitive dashboard that contains all of the pieces required to set up, design and manage an online marketplace, complete with phone support, payment processing, marketing tools, analytics, hosting and security.  Near Me integrates with global payment gateways like PayPal, Balanced, Stripe and more. The system also allows login through social media services.

Near Me has been used to create marketplaces for coworking, camera gear, boat rentals, tool rentals, and musical instrument rentals. Founder Michelle Regner told Shareable that the ideal Near Me user is anyone from a budding entrepreneur to an established brand. The platform charges a setup fee and monthly hosting fee with support, but does not take a portion of transaction revenue. The setup fee depends on the client’s size, scope and needs.

2. ShareTribe

Much like Near Me, ShareTribe offers a white-label online sharing platform, with a few key differences, according to CEO and co-founder Juho Makkonen. Where Near Me offers a white label solution, the code is not open to tinkering as is the case with ShareTribe, says Makkonen.

“We see Sharetribe as the ‘CMS for the sharing economy’, just like WordPress is a CMS for online publishing, Magento a CMS for e-commerce and CrowdHoster a CMS for crowdfunding. Sharetribe is an open source platform, so anyone can take the code and tinker with it. We want to democratize the process of building p2p marketplaces and allow anyone to create their own. We also believe that the ideology of free software fits perfectly with the collaborative economy, and if we just share everything we have built freely, people can build great things with it.” 

Makkonen also believes ShareTribe caters more to individuals as opposed to Near Me’s focus on entrepreneurs and established brands.

3. MyTurn

To date, MyTurn has not focused on creating a white-label P2P sharing platform, though the company is currently testing that market. Instead, MyTurn has worked to establish a single online marketplace where organizations like municipalities, universities and community groups can manage and lend assets for free or rent for a fee, extracting revenue and added value from assets that would otherwise sit idle. 

"We're helping businesses identify often vastly underutilized assets and turn them into new revenue streams," says Gene Homicki, MyTurn co-founder. "We also help government and nongovernment organizations democratize access to tools and equipment people need to live, work, learn and play." 

Homicki adds that MyTurn is designed to empowers organizations both to track and analyze product usage internally, and to rent products externally via our online marketplace. "Our central marketplace brings together all the stuff our clients have to share—tools, IT and AV equipment, sporting goods, small kitchen appliances, and more—and makes those products easily accessible to sharers (formerly known as consumers)," he says.

Building Trust in a Place to Share 

Having a trusted intermediary serves as a way to encourage people to participate in sharing, accoriding to Homicki.

"This ability to share items through a place that is similar to a public library, or to rent items like one would rent tools or sporting goods from a rental shop, allows a wider cross-section of both the online and offline population to take part in the sharing economy in ways they feel are safer and that they are more familiar with," says Homicki.

Makkonen believes there is ample space for all three services to co-exist and serve different niches of the sharing economy.

“I think MyTurn, Near Me and Sharetribe each target a bit different segments,” he says. “MyTurn serves existing rental companies, Near Me is focused on big brands and well-funded entrepreneurs, and ShareTribe caters to individuals, really early-stage startups and open source developers. Sometimes there can be some overlap, but I think all these three are valid strategies and they are all needed, so there's a lot of space for us all to co-exist.”

This is just our quick take. Please research thoroughly before getting started. Building a sharing community is hard work, and you want to make the right technology choice right out of the gate. Switching later could be costly, or worse. If you know of other choices, please mention them in comments.

Full disclosure: both Near-me.com and MyTurn.com are Shareable sponsors.

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