A lot of my posts in January were obituaries: I went through my spreadsheet of sharing economy travel companies and figured out which ones closed to remove them from the table. This is a pretty simple manual process of opening every website to see if it’s still in operation. Naturally, in a space filled with relatively new startups, there was a lot of attrition. But at the same time, most months I publish a news feature like this one, highlighting new peer-to-peer travel businesses I learned about as well as other general industry news.
December was a slow month for peer to peer travel news but I figured that might be related to all the holidays. However, January was even slower. So now I’m wondering if this is indicative of a trend in sharing economy travel startups. Perhaps we’re now seeing a consolidation after a few years of tons of new companies opening up, with many doing basically the same thing yet claiming they had an amazing and unique idea. A good example of this is the crowdsourced delivery space. So many new companies opened between 2014 and 2016, offering slick interfaces to facilitate travelers earning money by carrying stuff for delivery in their luggage. But now it’s 2017 and almost all of these sites still have very few listings from customers wanting deliveries (or even from travelers offering to deliver stuff). It turns out, it’s not always true that “if you build it they will come.”
This month there are just four items of interest in the news. All new companies are added to my spreadsheet of sharing economy travel services.
Wanderage – a new (launched in 2016) peer-to-peer activities site based in India and currently offering activities in that country.
Youcamp – not new (launched in 2013) but new to me, this peer-to-peer camping site facilitates private land owners renting out plots to campers in Australia.
Dabble – peer to peer classes and experiences in Chicago, Illinois. Dabble was founded in 2011 but I just came across them.
Wanderlift – a ridesharing service focused on adventure trips (i.e. sharing a ride to the ski mountain). Started by Denver University students, this service launched last year and is currently only available in Colorado.
PiggyBee got a €50,000 investment from Wing to expand their crowdsourced delivery services. According to David Vuylsteke, the founder and CEO, this money will be used to “finance a series of new features in the platform, and will enable us to conduct some hypothesis-testing. The goal is to quickly multiply the number of offers posted on the site in order to achieve a day-by-day increase in package deliveries by travelers.” Volume of users is definitely critical to a social shipping company actually taking off, so I hope that with this cash injection PiggyBee will be able to make some big growth in that area. I’ve certainly had some fun delivery adventures using PiggyBee, including last year’s backpack delivery, carrying drugs to Colombia, and delivering shoes to Spain.