The sharing economy has exploded over the past few years, providing consumers with convenient access to goods and services and opening new income opportunities for anyone with a car, home, or household toolbox. Most anyone with a smart phone has used Airbnb or Uber; in September, the ride-sharing service reported 8 million users, 160,000 drivers, and over 62 million trips in 70 countries. Airbnb counts over 60 million users and 2 million listings in 191 countries. Yet despite widespread adoption, the collaborative consumption industry is facing new criticism and regulation. And that’s precisely why we think it’s one to watch in 2017. Change and challenge are great engines for innovation, and we’re excited to see how these ten Southern startups navigate the peer economy in the New Year.
- Miami-based Boatsetter.com is an affordable boating rental marketplace that matches boat owners with pre-screened renters and captains. Seafaring adventurers search the worldwide fleet, connect with a boat owner, book dates, and set sail either with or without a captain. The company has raised over $14 million to-date and expanded operations in 2015 after merging with San Francisco-based Cruzin.
- Austin-based Kandid.ly is a community marketplace that helps users find local freelance photographers based on style or budget, and connects photographers with new income opportunities. Founded in 2013, Kandid.ly participated in both the Capital Factory incubator and the 2016 Techstars Austin accelerator.
- Chattanooga-based Bellhops is the largest and fastest growing tech-enabled moving platform, connecting users with student movers from colleges in over 120 US cities. The company has raised $28 million since launching at Auburn University in 2011, and has been awarded Tech Crunch Best New Startup of 2014 and #4 Best Company Culture in the Country by Entrepreneur Magazine.
- Austin-based LawnStarter is an online marketplace that connects homeowners with high quality lawn service. Through the platform, users can instantly schedule lawn maintenance and manage all outdoor services for their home. The 2014 Techstars graduate has raised over $7 million and is currently operational in the DC metro and Austin.
- Atlanta-based and Y Combinator-backed viaCycle creates flexible, affordable, and easy-to-use technology that enables bike sharing in places where it wasn’t previously possible. Users can unlock viaCycle smart bikes instantly using their cell phone. Once done, riders can place bikes anywhere, with no kiosks or special infrastructure required.
- Baltimore-based Parking Panda is the industry leading online marketplace for parking. The web and mobile app helps parking owners capitalize on their inventory by driving extra traffic when spaces are empty and improving pricing when the lot is full. On the flip side, drivers can save money and time by finding on-demand parking or reserving a discounted space in advance. Parking Panda has raised over $4 million since launching in 2011.
- Atlanta-based SWAP by reKindness is a fashion and beauty barter platform. Currently in beta, the peer-to-peer e-commerce app allows users to trade clothing, subscription box items, and accessories for the cost of shipping. The startup has been featured in Forbes and CNN since launching in January.
- Dallas-based Terra is an online marketplace that connects property owners with skilled service providers offering anything from lawn care and junk hauling to home automation installation. The web and mobile app provides up-front pricing and matches homeowners and property managers with background checked contractors in real-time.
- Miami-based Daycation connects users to on-demand hotel amenities and helps hotels monetize otherwise unused services. Consumers can reserve a hotel day pass through the Daycation, gaining daytime access to pools, spas, and private beaches. The marketplace is currently available in four cities including New York and Miami.
- Austin-based Dinner Elf is a marketplace that connects busy families and individuals with affordable, on-demand chef services. Through the online platform, users in the Austin area can search and book a chef to cook homemade dinners right in their kitchen every week. The startup is a graduate of the Capital Factory incubator.
Are there other Southern companies shaping the sharing economy? What industries are on your radar in 2017? Share with us in the comments!