Sharing Economy on the Rise in the US

The Sharing Economy or Disownership is a major trend coming out of technology.

Successful start-ups like Airbnb, Sidecar, Uber, Neighborgoods and Relay Rides are all great examples of peer sharing marketplaces which are disrupting consumerism.

A fantastic survey from Sunrun, a US solar home system company was just release this month which illustrates how disownership is on the rise.

According to Sunrun “disownership’ means sharing, renting, borrowing or making similar alternative arrangements to gain access to traditionally-owned items—without the expense or hassle of owning them”.  

Findings from the survey include:

  • More than half (52%) of the 2,000-plus Americans surveyed have rented, leased or borrowed items including cars, bikes, clothing, vacation homes, tools or home appliances in the last year, rather than buying them.
  • A resounding 83% said that they would rent, lease or borrow these items if they could do so easily. The leading reasons given for this growing “disownership” were saving money and cutting down on storage and/or maintenance.“
  • 24% of Americans 55 years of age or older were more likely to rent, lease or borrow traditionally owned items today than they were five years ago.
  • More than half of those aged 45-54 have done so in the last two years.
  • Of respondents in the Midwest, 46% plan to “disown” items in the next two years. In the South, that number jumps to 50%.

For the full infographic click here.

PB: 10km in 50.24 seconds 💪🏽 Huge shoutout to all the carbs I ate in the last 24 hours. I really appreciated our time together and I’ll miss you so much 🍞 I also want to thank the wind for making it 10x harder to run, the rain for ruining my hair, @healthmatesrwc for the foam roller I’m about to use, and a big shoutout to my biggest supporter @victoriassecretsport for supporting my girls the whole way. Couldn’t have done it without you 👊🏼 #sunrun #smh #run 📷 @snazzylentin (at Manly Beach)

Solar-as-a-Service: The Rise of Sunrun

For years the concept of green power was seductive—who wouldn’t want to help the planet while saving money? The reality, however, often revealed itself to be a nightmare: too expensive, too risky, too difficult to set-up, and too much government hassle.

In February of 2007, two entrepreneurs looked at the same problem, but saw it in a different light. Sunrun co-founders Lynn Jurich and Ed Fenster noticed how the landscape was shifting to create a very real opportunity for solar. Three factors came together to change the game. First, the costs of production would be greatly reduced over time. Secondly, government incentives were moving into place to help convince homeowners to go green. Finally, they had a key business model insight—instead of asking homeowners to pay for the entire cost of installing a system, which might run as high as $40k per household, they figured out a way for homeowners to “lease” the equipment, and then for Sunrun to make money by selling the electricity back to the homeowners at below market prices. This would create a sustainable win-win. Solar-as-a-Service was born.

Putting these insights together, Lynn and Ed started Sunrun at a time when nearly everyone else still saw solar as risky, impossible or deeply unprofitable.

Armed with a dogged determination—Lynn and Ed took up the challenge to change the way homeowners consume energy. The challenges were many: the crash of 2008 mixed with shifts in government incentives made for tough times. Others might have given up, but Lynn and Ed kept at it. Lynn had experience on the frontlines of selling Sunrun’s solar service to consumers and her first-hand customer research pointed directly to the validity of their product – homeowners wanted this.

Lynn and Ed knew they were on the right path because they had unpacked the core of what motivated their current and potential customers. A more timid pair of founders would have fled. Lynn and Ed stuck with it.

Today Sequoia is proud to congratulate Sunrun on their IPO. Not only have they created a successful business, but they have grown to be the second largest residential solar company in the U.S., with solar panels installed on 75,000 customers’ homes across 15 states.

If there is a single message in their success for future founders to ponder, it’s this: when traditional thinking dictates that something can’t be done, approach the problem from a different point of view. Having a unique perspective may lead to tough times at the start, but in the case of Sunrun, a bright outcome.

Congratulations to Sunrun on their vision and this next phase in their business.

- Scott Carter on behalf of Sequoia