They say the best days of boat ownership are but two; the day you buy it, and the day you sell it. In the time between, the hassles and cost of insurance, maintenance and storage are a large burden to bear for a few days of fun, when you actually get to use it.
Even if you are fortunate enough to afford it, it's hard to justify keeping a boat for half a dozen outings a year, but what if, during the downtime, you could profit from sharing with others in your local community?
Conversely, what if others want easy, but only occasional access to motorcycle, car, jet-skis, SUVs and so on but don't want, or cannot afford, to invest in the cost and hassle of ownership themselves?
Peer-to-peer (p2p) start-up - JustShareIt - feels the opportunity exists to bring these parties together in an on-line vehicle-sharing marketplace, and to this end, launches this week, to bring owners (or sharers) and borrowers together, organized around three key service goals: security, convenience and adventure.
The service works like this. Sharers post to the website the number of hours and times during the month that they are willing to make their idle asset available, they also set the price per period for which they are prepared to loan it. On the other side, borrowers use a mobile app to search for what's on offer nearby. Upon finding a suitable match, they click to make a vehicle booking for a specified amount of time. JustShareIt takes a commission from the rental fee for providing the platform to make the transaction possible. And that's basically it. Sharers get to make some money and borrowers go out to play.
JustShareIt provides insurance and roadside assistance for the sharing period, and to ensure a high level of trust is engendered, the company undertakes background checks to ensure all parties to the transaction are approved into the sharing community.
At the heart of the service, and what makes JustShareIt unique, is a secure keyless access system enabled via a proprietary hardware innovation called RideLink. RideLink is hardwired into the ignition system of the sharers' vehicle; by-passing the need for a physical key. Instead, vehicle operation is activated by their mobile app-enabled encrypted virtual key. When a booking is confirmed, the borrower's mobile device will be able to unlock and remotely start the particular rented vehicle. The system is GPS enabled, so owners will know where their vehicle is at the start and end of the rental period and if desired, can even restrict the range of operation while on loan. Sharers also have the comfort of knowing that if the system is tampered with, their vehicle shuts down.
Owners wanting further security can make their vehicle available only to what the company describes as "private closed circles," specifically defined communities of borrowers with which the sharer is comfortable. However, JustShareIt thinks that as people become familiar with the service, owners will want to share as often as possible. In addition, sharers who also want to become borrowers of other peoples' assets can do so at discounted rates.
The company's founder, Gaurav Kohli, says the idea behind the keyless operation is to make the service completely hassle free, as it removes the need for person-to-person vehicle hand-offs. In fact, the app-based, keyless operation, supporting not just cars, but multiple types of vehicles, differentiates JustShareIt from car-only p2p competitors, such as Getaround and RelayRides.
JustShareIt's service will launch initially in the San Francisco Bay Area, and will roll out to the rest of California after that. Oregon, Texas and Virginia will follow as they are the other states where car sharing insurance is currently legal - though the company has 50 state insurance for non-car assets.
Phil Covington holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. In the past, he spent 16 years in the freight transportation and logistics industry. Today, Phil's writing focuses on transportation, forestry, technology and matters of sustainability in business.