collaborative consumptionGetting the products, services and things you want in life is getting surprisingly easy, if you know where to look and are willing to share a little. Whether you want to borrow a car for a few hours or have ice-cold milkshakes delivered to your Super Bowl party, the rapidly expanding movement called collaborative consumption‘s got you covered.

Collaborative consumption basically means giving access to something, versus having ownership over that person/place/thing; and it seems that lately your neighbors and peers are more willing than ever to cash in on their spare time, guest rooms and expertise.

A lot of the rapid growth and exposure that collaborative consumption (be it TaskRabbit or Lending Club) comes from technology, namely the internet, allowing us to connect with likeminds and able bodies from across the globe. Though convenient this ease of use still lends itself to the concerns are if the person/group we’re interacting with really has the thing we want – be it a rideshare or a home-cooked meal – and if we trust them enough to have the deal take place. Thankfully that’s where startups like Zirtual come in and vast, faceless job boards like Craiglist bow out.

As someone who used to take large stock in ownership (I liked having “my own” car, place, etc) I know what it feels like to want that mine!!!!! sensation – but it just doesn’t make economical sense. As I write this I am living in a beautiful 3 bedroom, fully furnished rental in San Francisco’s Nob Hill area. I would never in a million years be able to afford this place on a startup founder’s budget without A) roommates and B) the fact that this furnished place saved me a ton via all the small things one needs to live (think forks, dressers, sheets). Through collaborative consumption I’ve enabled myself to enjoy a far superior living arrangement for a fraction of the steep costs of ownership.

When I need to travel I use AirBnB, when I want a car for the day I use GetAround or RelayRides. If I need some electronics for the office I’ll buy them second hand on Amazon or eBay since it just makes more sense, we also sublet office space from a larger startup which saves us on overhead.

But it’s not just saving money, it’s also about ease of use and convenience. It’s easier to grab a car one place and drop it off in another. It’s simpler to hire a personal assistant for the times you need them through Zirtual than it is to comb Odesk for your own and then spend the time training them. Things are often just better when you’re not the only one using them, if you don’t believe me check out Rachel Botsman’s TED talk below:

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