by Michael Patrick McSweeney (@mpmcsweeney)
If you’ve ever needed to borrow a lawnmower from your next-door neighbor, you most likely picked up the phone and gave them a call to ask permission. A new app from Peerby aims to bring this community-driven process into the Digital Age.
Peerby makes sharing everyday household items simple with an easy-to-use mobile platform. As the concept of a digital society grows with each passing year, Peerby provides evidence that apps will play a role in changing the way that consumers interact with both merchants and one another. Peerby’s Daan Weddepohl suggests in an interview with PYMNTS.com that global businesses need to change along with their customers if they hope to maintain a profitable market share.
“We believe that the world is changing fundamentally,” Weddephol said. “We are moving to a much more decentralized economy where consumers also become producers. It’s a more social and sustainable economy. Companies that have trouble adapting to this change will have a hard time.”
Peerby’s people-driven model is a new step in social commerce and mobile communication, and its technology carries implications for today’s retailers who are just beginning to tap into social media dynamics to connect with customers in all new ways. As Weddepohl explained to PYMNTS.com, the consumer world is undergoing “a change in the way people look at consumption.”
PYMNTS.com: This is the first time we’ve had Peerby on our platform. Can you start off by talking about Peerby’s vision and how it hopes to leverage collaborative consumption?
Daan Weddepohl: Peerby is a website and iPhone app that enables you to borrow the things you need from people in your neighborhood in 30 minutes. At Peerby, we believe that the best way to foster happiness is by connecting to the people around you. We want to change the way people use products by creating local communities that share infrequent used items. That way you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on things you only use once or once in a while, it strengthens the community and it saves a lot of resources, waste and carbon emission.
Right now, Peerby is seeing a lot of growth organically. To what do you attribute your success? Were there specific factors that you think helped Peerby take off?
We see a change in the way people look at consumption. Material is replaced by a need to connect to peers. Cities have long been a place of anonymity. Peerby is giving neighbors a way to reconnect to their neighborhood while saving a little money. There’s has never been a better time for a solution like this. The combination of social and economical drivers and the technical possibilities are enabling us for the very first time to enable these kind of interactions.
How is Peerby looking to monetize the lending process, and further, how is it aiming to facilitate and secure transactions between users?
There’s a long-term and a short-term strategy. We believe having access to products should be as easy as taking out your phone and clicking the item that you want to use. In the long run we’ll enable this with a pay-per-minute or a subscription model. Think of it as a Spotify for stuff.
Right now we are introducing an innovative micro insurance product, payed for by the borrower, that protects both borrower and lender against damage or loss.
Do you think Peerby, or solutions like Peerby, pose a threat to retailers? And are you worried at all that retailers might even copy your business model, as they did for say Groupon?
We believe that the world is changing fundamentally. We are moving to a much more decentralized economy where consumers also become producers. It’s a more social and sustainable economy. Companies that have trouble adapting to this change will have a hard time.
Peerby is now growing internationally. How do you aim to scale the business to keep up with this growth in the coming months?
The company is growing at an incredible pace. Right now our team is doubling every 6 months. We try to create very organic and flexible structures that easily adapt to change. Also, as a CEO, I really have to keep up with things moving so fast. I have a totally different job every 3 months. I have to keep learning and adapting to grow with this company and to be able to come up with new strategies when needed.