Lisa Gansky is the author of The Mesh – Why the Future of Business
is Sharing. The text is taken from our publication “Access over ownership”, about the trend of wanting access to things instead of owning them.
Most companies have stubbornly stuck to various twists on a single tried-and- true formula: Create a product or service, sell it, and collect money. Just sell the guy a dishwasher, and watch him walk out the door.
Few businesspeople, including most entrepreneurs and investors, have imagined creating wealth or customers any other way. Though they may use social media to market their products, their minds are still stuck in a 2-D buyer/seller/own-it world.
Yet around this entrenched way of thinking, a new model is thriving, one that I call “the Mesh.” Enter the Mesh. That’s what I call the rapidly growing network of sharing-based goods and services. The Mesh is based on having convenient access to what you need and want, without the expense and hassles of owning more stuff.
Fundamentally, the Mesh is based on network-enabled sharing—on access rather than ownership. Mesh businesses understand and cleverly exploit the perfect storm of mobile, location-based capabilities and social network growth to give us convenient access to what we want and need, just when we want or need it. In my view, a major theme of the Share Economy is ‘unused value = waste’.
In a nutshell, we, as a global community have a lot of excess capacity: cars and bicycles sitting around, offices, factories and tools idle and, of course, talent. As access continues to triumph over ownership, we will continue to identify and make available ‘unused value’ as a major fuel for our local and global economies. This shift to the Mesh is rapidly changing the way business is done, and it’s picking up speed.
Why is the Mesh growing so fast?
There are a few significant reasons: population growth, the recession and that we are living in a time when anyone, almost anywhere, can reach a person, company or market faster, with far less capital required.
We now have an enhanced ability not only to leverage existing platforms, but also to refine and test our offering more quickly and inexpensively than ever before through social media networks, popup shops and galleries and apps.
Some of these Mesh businesses are international enterprises (Like ZipCar.com and LoveFilm.com). These services own the inventory of products or facility which they then make available to their customers via a ‘share’ or membership model. Many other Mesh companies are two sided marketplaces which are peer-to-peer or community based. In other words, marketplaces which allow us to borrow, swap and rent things from one another. These businesses take advantage of local peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms like Facebook and Foursquare, which make it easy to be connected while mobile.
There are now over 6,500 share-based companies in the Mesh community directory at Meshing.it. The competitive advantages for Mesh companies are so enormous that the new model has become the major driver for businesses old and new.