James Joun believes he has spotted the next big billion-dollar outsourcing venture – nationally scaled laundry and dry-cleaning services. The Harvard Business School graduate, whose Korean immigrant parents have run a dry-cleaning shop in San Francisco for more than 25 years, is the brains behind recently launched Rinse. From 8pm to 10pm daily, Rinse will collect your dirty clothes, returning them squeaky clean 24 to 72 hours later. Customers in five United States cities – Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York and Washington, DC – request a pickup via text or mobile app; they can also customise handling, detergents and temperatures. Rinse then farms out the job to local operators that meet its stringent specs.
Fancy renting an entire lifestyle? Try London-based Harth, a new sharing platform for interior design and art. Members can rent high-end furniture, paintings and sculptures from leading design brands, makers and galleries – as well as one another. Partnering with contemporary labels such as Tom Dixon, Stellar Works and Talisman Aarnio Originals, Harth will lend pricey pieces for either long-term home furnishing purposes or short-term events such as weddings, parties and show homes. According to Harth’s founders Henrietta Thompson and Edward Padmore, long-term hirers are the type of people who appreciate great design and cannot bear living with flat-pack furniture while they save up for it.
For those who like the idea of owning a dog but lack the space, a pet-sharing platform makes a lot of sense. The largest such site is Rover, an online portal launched in Seattle in 2011 to connect time-strapped pet owners with individuals who might want a canine companion for a few days. The company now facilitates dog-sitting and walking, boarding and drop-in visits for a million dog owners across the US and Canada. Just this July, Rover expanded into the United Kingdom, from where it plans to advance throughout Europe. This move puts it in direct competition with British firm DogBuddy, Europe’s leading dog sitting and boarding community that counts 500,000 dog lovers as its customers.
Beesharing is a social enterprise that aims to help preserve the planet’s food supply. Around 80% of all crops eaten by humans – one third of our sustenance – benefit from pollination by bees. Enter Beesharing from Hamburg, an online platform that launched last year, connecting farmers and beekeepers in German-speaking countries. To date, around 330 beekeepers with some 7,000 bee colonies, as well as almost 100 farmers, are registered. As optimal pollination can significantly increase yield – and therefore profits – the industry is currently abuzz with bee ventures. Beesharing is now crowdfunding to convert an old shipping container in Hamburg into a bee research centre that may house a million bees.
London-based Olio was created by two social entrepreneurs – Tessa Cook, who grew up on a British farm, and Saasha Celestial-One, the daughter of a hippie couple who rebelled by becoming an investment banker. The platform aims to reduce food waste by connecting neighbours with one another and with local businesses, so that surplus food can be shared instead of discarded. This could be produce nearing its sell-by date, extra home-grown vegetables or even someone’s groceries when they go away on vacation. Users simply open the app, add a photo and description of the item and specify when and where it can be picked up. So far, food has been shared in more than 32 countries via the platform.
This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine