Think about your neighborhood (at home or work). How many people within an easily accessible radius have some kind of basic household, office, or event equipment that you need, but would rather not buy? Think about what you have on hand that’s really useful every once in a while, but just sits around a lot of the time.
Sharetown is an online platform where you can rent basic equipment or goods to and from neighbors, building resources and community connections at the same time. Users can log in through Facebook or Twitter to engage their existing networks (or just use an email address). The idea is to use that extra stuff to empower people and make them more connected where they already live with what they already have. People make money. People save money. Resources are used well.
For security, the rental fee and deposit requested are held in limbo on the platform until both parties confirm that they are satisfied with the exchange. Parties also have the ability to review each other.
Some social benefits may also be ushered in with Sharetown. Perhaps – for introverts who wouldn’t just strike up a conversation with their neighbor, or for existing local communities eager to engage more people in their area – Sharetown provides a simple, mutually beneficial method to branch out. Make new friends. Help existing friends. Build community.
Sharetown’s marketing director, Jorja Leavitt, said, “To me, this has been a beautiful answer to [the recession] in Las Vegas, so people can find security, not by having to sell off everything they own in order to survive, but be able to actually keep it and be able to make friends and a business out of it.” Sharetown’s Vegas-based team of five comes with the experience of already having built three successful technology companies together over ten years.
With about 25,000 users currently on the beta platform – mostly within a few square miles of each other in Las Vegas, Utah, and Idaho – and version 1 scheduled for release in May, Sharetown aims to grow through engaging existing “micro-communities.” Potentially aided even more by a streamlined social media validation function (i.e., renting more securely within your social networks), the new version will also let you purchase simple insurance policies for your stuff (like boats and jet skis, currently available for rent on Sharetown).
Plenty of the time, technology gets criticized for separating people from each other, but it can be used to bring them together, and make their lives better. Sharetown provides an avenue for anyone to do just that, whether just to make some extra cash or for the social benefit. So go ahead: be neighborly.
ShareTown was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Week mixer in Las Vegas in February.
Guest author Kaitlynn Hendricks is a systems builder and a solution-focused, broad-scale economist. She works as a business developer in Washington, DC, where she spends her days pursuing, supporting, and telling stories about ventures in development and stewardship of globally conscious, locally focused networks of human, physical, and liquid capital. She enjoys timeless and occasionally avant-garde fashion, reading things that are just a little bit too complicated to really understand, relentlessly challenging the status quo, and exploring the city on her vespa. You can follow her on Twitter @sophistikaty.