The power of people – and why it’s failing
Long live individual opportunities, freedom and choices.
Imagine a world where every man and woman can decide for themselves when to work. Imagine a world where everyone could leverage from their true passion and knowledge. No job seeking, you set your own schedule and you don’t have to follow someone else's whistle if you don’t want to. All without the risk of starting your own company and building it from the ground.
In my world, this is what´s called the Peer-2-Peer industry.
We’ve seen the rise of companies letting us get closer to this reality lately. Uber and Lyft let's you earn money driving people around the city without being an officially registered taxi. Dogvacay and Rover let’s you spend your free time with pups and earn money while doing so. Airbnb let’s you go travel without feeling guilty for spending that money through opening your home to becoming an Hotel for the time you are away.
I LOVE it.
I love this because it gives people freedom. Freedom to decide to NOT work at a low paying job in a supermarket or with a 2 hour commute. I love this because it gives people an opportunity to be their own boss even if they don’t have opportunity to start their own business from scratch. I love it so much I tried to create this opportunity in a field that I myself am very passionate in: workouts.
The idea was simple – and brilliant. There are tons of people just like me who am passionate, knowledgeable and excited enough to share their workout expertize. A Peer-2-Peer marketplace for workouts was borned and we named it Vint. In this previous post I explain the journey of what became Vint and that, unfortunately, we were not specifically successful building a new Peer-2-Peer movement.
To give you some more perspective on the Vint journey I can tell you this: All these trainers had everything you could ask for in a fitness instructor; passion, personality, experience and knowledge. The things they did not have attached to their Vint experience was a career, livelihood and personal brand to take care of and this is something that would prove to have huge impact on how the service evolved.
Without these fundamental things attached to something that requires your time and engagement for a specific day and time the engagement with the P2P company will always be competing to everything else that a person can do with it’s time. A movie ticket? A dinner invite? A few hours more sleep due to a fun night yesterday? A Tinder date pings you? Got busy at work? We noticed that even delivering a fine up to $50/hour (!) made no difference - when something more fun came up or something connected to a long term career we were on the sidelines which led us to delivering a poor experience to our users who got stood up. This escalated to users leaving the platform and reputation was damaged.
Many of you are probably shaking your heads right about now. When I talk about my experiences many people look at me and say “are you sure this was the problem?” “What about AirBnB and Uber?” “But people always want to deliver?!” and let me tell you - I’ve been right there with you. Naive and hopeful. Let’s start by looking at who is your average Peer-2-Peer persona (keep in mind there are exceptions that confirms the rule, people that truly ARE amazing and that does everything right. Some of Vint’s best trainers were Passionate Athletes and not full time trainers):
Happy Hanna - Happy Hanna is excited about everything and is quick to jump on new opportunities. She’s a happy person who strives to deliver a great experience but due to the nature of her opportunistic and “must do everything” personality she ends up not having time to deliver what was once promised - mainly because when things get real she (of course) have to prioritize her full time job that is already getting a little too little attention.
Lazy Joe - Joe always tries to find ways to earn more by doing less. The idea of a platform that allows him to work flexible hours, whenever he feels like it is like music to his ears which creates friction as he’s having a hard time committing to the times and deliveries he promised. He could change his mind whenever he felt like it - wasn't that the deal?!
Smart Francis - Francis goes over the moon and back to outsmart the system. He analyzes what hours to work to earn more (not necessarily a bad thing), how to find loopholes in the system (a bad thing) and actively plays the system to earn money although not delivering the agreed service (...)
Unfortunately, Vint is not the only company discovering the hurdles of creating a peer-2-peer marketplace that requires individual and personal experience and knowledge the last few months. We continue to see the same problem happening to a bunch of peer-2-peer companies, one of the most well known flat tires this summer was the peer-2-peer cleaning company Homejoy.
I went in to the project of building a new Peer-2-Peer category being too naive. I was confident people would always deliver, if for nothing else their own personal brands sake. Today, my take on the P2P industry and humanity is different than 2 years ago. How to get a large number of people to deliver services without holding them accountable through employment or a career path that are connected to a specific person (Tommy will be teaching you running drills at 6pm) simply has not been cracked yet. To get a large number of people delivering services that are connected to any person (A Car will pick you up at 6pm) or when the net cash is in a big enough volume (you will earn $200 a night for this one nights studio rental) on the other hand is something we can make work which means there is still hope for the Peer-2-Peer industry and one I’m eager to continue following for the years to come.
Long live individual opportunities, freedom and choices to do whatever we feel like with our time, knowledge and capacity. Anyone meaning this is a simple sign of people being in need of extra cash and doing it because they are forced to (ping @billmaher you need to stop spreading this propaganda) or meaning this is actions destroying the economy (ping @Alexandra Pelosi) is simply not seeing the forest for all the trees. (I mean, Alexandra, your argument that it’s better for the drivers to pay thousands of dollars for a taxi medallion and that this gives them more of a safety net and security - really?... )
Long live individual opportunities, freedom and choices.