I don’t know how many posts I’ll write on this topic, but I want to share a bit about my current research on collaborative consumption (I’m using this term broadly). It’s rather interesting how I was recently given the opportunity to spend a lot of time thinking about this topic.
I was laid off from Webshots in April. Ugh, it was a hard kick in the stomach! After the initial shock wore off, I felt a sense of peace and even joy! Why? Well, it’s only a job and it’s not like I was fired. Not gonna’ lie though. It still sucked for about 24 hours.
The old me would have contacted friends, recruiters, and former colleagues right away. I would have applied for jobs the next day. But that’s the the old me. Life has taught me to be more patient and less anxious. Letting go of control can be relaxing and freeing.
How so? Well, I decided to consider this a gift from God. Every new turn in life is an opportunity! In some ways, it’s kind of cool. I am like a retired person with ultimate flexibility except that I don’t have the bank account of a wealthy retiree!
I just relaxed a few days after my layoff. I also continued running a lot. I ran 13.2 miles the day I was laid off. It was fun running circles around tourists and dodging traffic on the Embarcadero. Anyway, I digress.
“What should I do?” I thought to myself. I wanted to do something to keep my mind occupied, but I honestly didn’t want to sit behind a desk just yet. I wanted to work and rest on my own schedule. So, I decided to turn to collaborative consumption type gigs while looking for the next right full-time job! I am a business development guy. I wasn’t going to just sit around and do nothing! I hustle. I learn new things. I like to make new connections.
I signed up for Lyft, SideCar, TaskRabbit, Instacart, and Exec. I am fascinated with share economy, peer-to-peer services, and collaborative consumption. I am convinced that there is a generational trend among Americans in their 20s-30s, especially the urbanites, to shift from ownership and fixed-schedule to sharing and flexibilty.
When I told my parents about what I was doing, their initial reaction was, “Uhh… you are giving rides and delivering groceries to random people? Isn’t that dangerous?” But once I explained to them how everything worked, they had an ah-ha moment. My parents aren’t up-to-date on the latest apps or web-based services, but even they see the value of what companies like SideCar, Instacart, and TaskRabbit are. doing.
We, young professionals, are transient. We may live in New York for two years and then move to San Francisco before settling in Chicago 10 years later to raise a family there. On top of that, even if one decided to stay put in one place, he or she is likely way too busy with life to run all their personal errands. Wait for the bus when you are running 10 minutes late? Try to find a cab during rush hour? Forget about it! Let someone else pick up your groceries and dry cleaning and pick you up when you need to get from point A to point B!
So how has it been working out for me? Here are the results by the numbers. I will write more about my experience with each of the companies in my next post.
After two weeks of driving around 82 people through SideCar, I have earned $847.20 in donations. Just a side note: If you take SideCar, please tip your drivers! Please do not pay less than the suggested amount, especially if you get a car late at night or make multiple stops.
From Instacart, I have earned $209.20 after 12 deliveries. I suck at getting groceries for myself because I never know what to get. After seeing what others buy, I now have a much better idea of what to get for myself! Killing two birds with one stone!
After hopping around the Bay Area to complete six tasks on TaskRabbit, I have made $203. I’ll write more about some of the tasks I’ve run in my next post, but here is a picture of a task that required me to pack lunches for 40 school-aged kids. In the process of writing this, I got assigned to this task again, except that this time I need to pack for 70 kids! Naturally, I am being paid more for the task. Score!
So, after having worked part-time for 13 days, I have made $1259.40.
I have not been fully approved for Lyft yet and have not finished my application process for Exec. I intend to sign up for Getaround as well. I am basically doing everything related to collaborative consumption, except for AirBnB since I live in a studio.
(I want my own pink mustache!)
Now, I am not doing random tasks and driving people around SF only to make a few dollars. If I wanted to make money, I would probably start playing poker again, as my average hourly profit at a casino is about $50. Or, I could just teach GMAT for $80-$100 an hour. After all, I did relatively well on the GMAT and have an MBA from a top 10 school to prove it. But I wouldn’t learn anything useful doing those things.
This is a great way for me to learn how these companies in the collaborative consumption space and peer-to-peer services operate from the ground-up. In a way, I am investing in myself through this experience.
I have learned a lot already and have suggestions for improvement for all three companies. I also have thoughts on how one making a living through these services could maximize his or her profit. More on that in my next post…
If you need help with some errands, look me up on TaskRabbit: www.taskrabbit.com/jonathanlee00! Unfortunately, you can’t ask for me specifically on Instacart, but I generally work during the day on weekdays. Tips are of course appreciated, and don’t worry I won’t blog about what weird things you may order. I’ll just laugh at you. As for requesting me on SideCar, well, you can’t do that either, but I’m sure I’ll run into you if you are a frequent user in San Francisco.
(Aspiring to be the best dressed SideCar driver. See that Foursquare badge?)
There is an entrepreneurial spirit in all of us. The platform the aforementioned companies have provided is great for micro-entrepreneurs. Trust me on this, this is already big and it’s about to get ginormous!
Be on the look out for my next post. I have some interesting stories to share from my rides and deliveries!
By: Jonathan Lee