Parking your car on San Francisco’s streets is a daily nightmare. The roads are narrow, pot-holed, and patrolled by an army of meter maids searching for any reason to slap you with a parking fine. It’s a war zone. If there was ever an environment in need of disruption, this is it.
Enter peer-to-peer carsharing startup Getaround. Getaround allows its members to rent personal vehicles from their neighbors by the hour and the day.
Our cars are parked for for 23 hours per day, so there’s a significant opportunity to harness the idling capacity of unused personal vehicles. People like me who don’t want to own a car can pay to borrow vehicles that would otherwise be unused, costing money for insurance, gas and maintenance. Think of it as Airbnb meets Zipcar. A car that’s parked in the right area, and whose owner has achieved market equilibrium, can earn significant income from her car.
Let’s do some quick, back-of-the envelope math. Let’s assume Veronica charges $8/hour for her car during the week. Saturday and Sunday she likes to uses for errands and away trips. Assuming her car is rented five hours per day:
$8/hour X 5 hours/day X 20 days = $1,600/ month additional income.
Again, this is a rough estimate of a car’s earning potential, but not over the top, either. Many models of car on Getaround rent for $16-$20/hour, which might negatively impact how often they’re rented, but still generates significant cash for the owner.
Collaborative consumption is subtly, but irreversibly changing human behavior. Getaround rents parking spaces by the month in order to have cars located in high volume areas. This is a huge win for the vehicle owner who doesn’t have to worry about parking tickets, car thieves, and parking hassles–all while earning a side income. For Getaround the cost of renting parking spaces for vehicle owners is absorbed into their overall operating expenses, and the company benefits from added visibility.
The aspect of Getaround I find most powerful is that it allows you to see innovation in action.
At demo days, and during investor pitches, startups talk about the size of the market they want to disrupt. Often this is an abstract concept, because a market is nothing more than the sum of individual transactions. Disruption doesn’t usually happen all at once. Instead it leaks out in dribs and drabs.
Getaround makes a huge impact in the lifestyle and well-being of vehicle owners who rent out their cars. Suddenly a vehicle goes from a costly, worrisome liability into an income-generating asset. And while a vehicle that’s driven by 20 different people per week is going to need more frequent upkeep, it’s paid for by the rental fees earned. I’d gladly trade regular oil changes and tuneup for $1,000 or more in monthly income from a car I don’t drive.
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