To provide an overview of what I have seen on the market and make a more organized analysis, I divided the household into 2 main categories, according to the function of a household in my opinion – SERVICE or CONTAINER provider: either it is a service that our home has/provides as an answer to specific needs, or it contains our belongings. Each of those categories comes with a company or startup challenging ownership (summary provided in the infographic as attached):
What our house provides?
- Services and needs: in this category, I believe the key innovation concept is how to use “spare capacity” or how to live with what is needed and not create spare capacity in our living.
- Accommodation: besides renting properties, people also rent spare capacity in their homes, through Airbnb for short term or roommates’ platforms for longer terms, such as easyroommate (https://uk.easyroommate.com/). Other companies explore the sense of community building beyond accommodation while offering co-living places, as PROJECT (https://www.weareprojects.com/), promising a hassle-free life from bills and other activities that do not add value in our lives.
- Building Materials: circular economy in the built environment poses a great business opportunity, since construction sector is highly wasteful. Hence, here are some companies tackling this challenge.
- ALDStone (flooring and wall fixing as a service): http://aldstone.global/ (under construction website), https://www.houzz.co.uk/pro/aldstone/aldstone
- Desso (Carpet as a service – for B2B Market): http://www.desso-businesscarpets.com/services/carpet-leasing/
- Phillips (Light as a service): https://www.philips.com/a-w/about/sustainability/sustainable-planet/cir…
- Laundry: shared laundry in a multi-family building is very common and Electrolux experimented with the concept of “Laundry Uber” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidschrieberg1/2016/12/18/uber-for-your-…)
- Transportation: although cars and bikes could be considered a belonging, especially for those who see on those any type of hobby or specially desired item, primarily and mostly it has a mobility function.
- A container to our belongings (Consumer Goods):
- Self-expression and lifestyle:
- Clothing: subscription (rent from a company) and rent from other individuals models
- Furniture: with an overview on this category, we see some companies that still focus more on “temporary” furniture rather than a choice of not owning your furniture.
- Tools, electronics and other consumer goods:
- Self-expression and lifestyle:
I believe questioning ownership within the “service” category can be less challenging than in “belonging” category, given that renting properties is established market, and more affordable than buying one. Besides, people already accepted the idea of making money with spare capacity on their homes through Airbnb, for instance. In addition, within urban context, several shared mobility solutions have emerged successfully, and people are not emotionally attached to their washing machines, for instance, to resist change. Solutions in this field have already achieved massive scale.
Therefore, in my opinion the biggest challenge to scale companies that are questioning ownership lies within our belongings, and the key to overcome this is to understand the relationship we have with things and to provide alternatives and business models that respond to consumer needs. For instance, Netflix and Spotify succeeded in providing good quality alternatives for buying CDs and DVDs. The understanding that each item in our house means something different for us is a step in challenging the ownership successfully, as well as disrupting patterns of goods consumption.
Would love to hear more thoughts on this division, and more suggestions to complement my overview!