Community Marketplaces: So Hot Right Now

This article originally appeared on the Rentcycle blog. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.

What do you get when you put 16 of the hottest marketplace startups under one roof? No, this isn’t a riddle. But it was the premise of last week’s Night Market, a gathering of entrepreneurs and enthusiasts of communal exchange in downtown San Francisco. The evening event featured collaborative startups focused on everything from goods to services to experiences. Each marketplace added its own flavor to the night in the form of party favors that best represented their service.

Thumbtack, who sponsored the event, hired fire dancers and a DJ in San Francisco through their service. There was a sleek, red Tesla parked in the middle of the dance floor, courtesy of car-sharing startup Getaround. The bouncers and drink servers were errand runners from TaskRabbit. Rentcycle brought out the kid in everyone with a cotton candy machine rented through their website. ThredUp ran a live clothing exchange where guests could trade items of clothing on the spot. And Airbnb ironically brought an inflatable house as a pun on ‘air bed and breakfast.’ Definitely the most intriguing grown-up party I’ve ever attended. And it got me jazzed about the future of exchange, enabled by technology.

Whether you call it collaborative consumption, the sharing economy, or mesh business, there’s a clear groundswell focused on local exchange. It’s less about buying and ownership and more about experiencing and access. One of the biggest catalysts for this movement has been technology and its ability to enable traditionally offline processes to easily happen online. The web has opened doors to unparalleled resource allocation. Social media helps verify people’s identities and can build trust among users. The rise of smart phones and mobile payments allow transactions to happen anytime, anywhere. And the web creates virtual communities, attracting like-minded individuals to share and exchange. The result is a new breed of marketplaces focused on delivering access to products, services, and experiences. As social networking and payment technologies become more advanced, the disruptive potential of collaborative marketplaces explodes. This is just the tip of the iceberg.


Getaround's Tesla on display at the Night Market event.

As a marketplace startup that connects consumers with businesses that rent products, Rentcycle is thrilled to wtiness this movement as it takes shape. It’s been exciting to watch established mesh businesses like Netflix exceed expectations in the stock market; companies like ZipCar and HomeAway file for IPO; and newer startups like Airbnb and Getaround gain traction and validation from the mainstream market. During the past couple of years, a strong support network of adjacent marketplaces has formed and it’s events like last week’s Night Market that make me realize I'm in really good company. 

Special thanks to our fellow marketplace friends for making it a memorable night:

Airbnb.com (Accommodations), BranchOut.com (Career Networking), Crave.com (Collectibles), Crowdflower.com (Labor-on-Demand), Getaround.com (Car Sharing), SocialCam.com (Video Sharing), Loosecubes.com (Offices), MindSnacks.com (Educational Apps), NeighborGoods (Stuff), Rentcycle.com (Rentals), Snapgoods.com (Gear & Gadgets), Taskrabbit.com (Jobs & Tasks), ThredUp.com (Kids Clothes), Thumbtack.com (Local Service), Vayable.com (Experiences), Zimride.com (Ride Sharing)

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