ShareZen is a new product service system that helps people share their planes, boats, and vacation homes. While obviously not for everybody, this may be a smart place to enter the sharing market. It's a well understood idea in business that it makes more sense to share the cost of high value, infrequently used property among a pool of users rather than shoulder the cost alone. This principle applies equally to personal property, though until now there haven't been many tools that help folks share planes, boats, and vacation homes.
I recently Skyped with the co-founder Shawn Kemp – an ex-Microsoftie turned entrepreneur and angel investor – to learn about their strategy. Shawn said that they hoped to get traction in a market with high commercial potential then extend the service to other categories and demographics. The service can help you share just about anything, but ShareZen is focusing on planes, boats, and vacation homes to start. ShareZen's primary value proposition is making sharing as easy and rewarding as possible.
The feature set, branding, and target market show disciplined business thinking. One aspect I appreciate, and hope other sharing entrepreneurs emulate, is the attempt to make sharing a safer and more rewarding experience than owning alone. Not only is ShareZen designed to make sharing easy and cost effective, but also a better experience by enabling users to share knowledge and good memories associated with use.
One thing I hope ShareZen does is use their service to increase access to high value items by those of modest means and find ways to leverage inventory to serve the common good. For instance, they could use the service to increase nonprofits' access to vacation homes for retreat spaces. Or make vacation homes available to inner city youth who otherwise would not get access to beautiful, wild places. Planes could be used to transport activists to remote locations. Planes, boats, and vacation homes could be mobilized for disaster relief, protests, and campaigns of all sorts.
The idea here is to unlock the potential of these assets for serving the common good and build bridges across class lines. Not to mention that this strategy would be good marketing. Citizens increasingly expect a business to have an explicit social benefit component aside from the social benefit that the service delivers directly.
Sign up for the beta here and let us know what you think.