Would you let a stranger stay in your house or borrow your car? For a growing number of people, the answer to that question is yes.
Thanks to the internet and social media, the sharing economy has taken off in the past several years. And while we’ve all heard of Airbnb and Uber, some people are sharing a lot more than an apartment or a quick car trip.
From the out-there to the mainstream, here are eight companies you may not have heard of that operate in the sharing economy.
This company pairs dogs with dog sitters. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to board their pooches in a kennel, dog owners can find a vetted pet watcher to keep an eye on their four-legged friend.
We can’t guarantee the dogs will be as into sharing as their owners.
Have you ever traveled to an unfamiliar city and wanted to find authentic food but not known where to go? Someone’s grandma’s kitchen is usually your best bet, but it’s a little odd to just knock on random doors. Enter Feastly. The company connects hungry people with chefs who cook and serve meals in their own home.
Internet is pretty much a necessity these days — Seriously, Finland declared it a legal right a few years ago — so it’s a real pain when you find yourself someplace without wifi. Fon lets members avoid the dead zones. If you’re willing to share your wifi with other members, they’ll share with you.
4. Rent the Runway
Bridesmaid dresses are expensive and you’re probably only going to wear that thing once. Why not rent one? After all, men do it with tuxedos all the time. Rent the Runway lets people do just that. From jewelry and handbags to ballgowns, the site lets people spend a fraction of the full retail price of an item on the condition that they send it back after the big event is over so that others can check it out. It’s like library books with more sparkles.
Peer-to-peer economy? Try pier-to-pier. Boatbound lets boat owners rent their boats to people who want a day of wake boarding or a romantic cruise on the lagoon but don't want the hassle of renting from a major company or who want to go boating someplace traditional boat rental companies don't operate.
If people are willing to fork over their boats, it makes sense that they’re also willing to hand off their car keys. While services like Uber and Lyft connect people with a driver, RelayRides goes a step further. The Google Ventures-backed company connects people looking for cars with car owners willing to part with their wheels for a few hours or even a weekend.
Just, maybe don’t do this.
SnapGoods is kind of like all of these sharing-economy companies rolled into one. People can post goods they’re willing to share for a fee online and other people looking for those goods can rent them. Want to borrow a drill but don’t want to buy it? Great. Need something a little more unusual, like a guitar, at short notice? That’s fine too.
8. Lending Club
Fed up with the banking system? The peer-lending company lets people invest in and borrow from each other quickly online.
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.