Access Economy: Startups & Trends
- In 2016, a French startup known as Tracktor was launched to enable construction workers to rent construction equipment. So far, this company has raised €3.7 million ($4.2 million) in total funding. Beam was founded in 2018 by Alan Jiang and Deb Gangopadhyay. Located in Singapore, this micromobility startup rents out electric scooters.
- Grover is a startup that allows people to subscribe to electronic or technology products on a monthly basis instead of purchasing them outright. Style Theory, another startup launched in 2016, is a "fashion rental subscription platform that offers affordable and environmentally friendly fashion options."
- It is a widely accepted fact that technology has been, and continues to be, the biggest driver behind the growth of the sharing economy. While the concept of exchanging and sharing is not new, advanced technologies have eradicated barriers and established conditions in which access-based consumption can flourish.
- The changing preferences of millennials and Generation Z is largely believed to be a key factor influencing the growing popularity of the access economy. Industry experts and research has shown that these young consumers are generally more comfortable with accessing products than owning them.
This research provides details on disruptive, interesting, or significant startups that offer access-based products. Our focus is on startups that offer physical goods rather than digital. Startups included in this report offer access, not the popular peer-to-peer sharing model.
Also, contained in this report, are trends in the access economy. Specifically, these trends highlight the significant technology or consumer factors that are driving growth in the access economy.
- Grover is a startup that allows people to subscribe to electronic or technology products on a monthly basis instead of purchasing them outright.
- Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, the company was founded by Michael Cassau in 2015. As of September 2021, it had received €342 million ($388 million) in funding.
- Grover provides access to a variety of technology products, including computers, phones and tablets, wearables, cameras, gaming and virtual reality (VR) gadgets, home entertainment products, audio and music equipment, drones, and smart home technology.
- Their computer rentals typically cost between $5.9 to $124.9, phone rentals cost between $3.9 to $89.9, while wearables cost $5.9 to $44.9.
- Gaming & VR rentals typically cost $3.9 - $69.9, home entertainment items cost $4.9 - $124.9, audio and music product rentals cost $4.9 - $22.9, while smart home gadgets cost $4.9 - $29.9.
- This startup asserts itself as a brand that allows users to get the tech products that they want, whenever they need them, simply, flexibly, and sustainably.
- Grover states that its products are wallet-friendly, in great condition, and as good as new. Consumers can relax, knowing that 90% of replacement or repair coverage is included in their rent via Grover Care.
Cost of Products
- Style Theory was launched in 2016 as a "fashion rental subscription platform that offers affordable and environmentally friendly fashion options."
- Headquartered in Singapore, the startup was founded by Chris Halim and Raena Lim. It has raised a total of $15 million in funding.
- On the platform, users can access over 40,000 clothing styles for as low as $79 monthly. More than 2,200 designer bags can be accessed for as low as $99 monthly.
- In its core value proposition, Style Theory states: "Access quality clothes and designer bags that don’t cost your wallet or the planet."
- The platform promises to help users reclaim their personal time, access 100% authenticated and "like-new designer quality," as well as the opportunity to try products before they buy. Users can pause or cancel their subscriptions at any time.
- Style Theory focuses on fashion rentals, prioritizing clothes and designer bags. This has become an established product category in the access economy, with numerous brands competing for market share.
Cost of Products
- Tracktor is a startup that enables construction workers to rent construction equipment. Founded in 2016, the French startup has raised €3.7 million ($4.2 million) in total funding.
- Its most rented equipment include mini excavators, scissor lifts, forklifts, articulated platforms, telescopic platforms, mini spider cranes, toucan carrycots, telehandlers, excavators, and construction barriers.
- This startup selects the best rental companies and aggregates them on their platform. Pricing is dependent on the rental company and the specific needs of the construction worker or contractor. However, the platform negotiates the terms and offers its users advantageous conditions and prices.
- The company offers rentals at a far cheaper price than established traditional competitors, promising to provide equipment at less than €30,000 yearly.
- In its value proposition, Tracktor promises to help construction workers rent equipment with confidence. Users can find their equipment and obtain immediate quotes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Tracktor's negotiated prices can be as much as 40% cheaper than traditional equipment options. Also, the platform promises to help users find "equipment from the best rental company in less than 30 minutes."
- While equipment rentals is an established category, Tracktor has a unique access-based business model that is still emerging.
Cost of Products
- In 2018, Beam was founded by Alan Jiang and Deb Gangopadhyay. Located in Singapore, this micromobility startup rents out electric scooters.
- The firm has raised $33.4 million in funding. Its scooters are available in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
- Pricing for its offerings can be accessed upon request by contacting the local Beam team.
- Beam promises to "[make] city life flow better for everyone." Describing itself as the leading micromobility company in the APAC region, Beam promises more safety and climate neutrality.
Cost of Products
Plowz and Mowz
- Located in Syracuse, New York, Plowz and Mowz is an innovative startup that enables users to book landscapers or snowplows on demand.
- The platform has a "fleet of local, professional landscapers and snow removal contractors" that can be accessed to perform several outdoor home services.
- Pricing for the various exterior home services offered by Plowz and Mowz can be accessed upon request.
- Described as "The Uber of Landscaping," this platform helps homeowners and property occupants with yardwork, delivering stellar landscaping, lawn care, and other outdoor services.
- The company enables homeowners to outsource their "burdensome tasks to their smartphone," providing a quote in 60-seconds. Convenience is at the core of its value proposition.
- As a niche service provider focusing specifically on access-based lawn and yard services, this startup's business model is still in the nascent/emerging stage.
Cost of Products
Increased Technology Accessibility
- It is a widely accepted fact that technology has been, and continues to be, the biggest driver behind the growth of the sharing economy. According to industry players, the evolution of the sharing economy can be attributed to the decreasing cost and increased availability of technology.
- While the concept of exchanging and sharing is not new, advanced technologies have eradicated barriers and established conditions in which access-based consumption can flourish. Technology continues to enable freedom of choice, access to aggregated supply, community-based work relationships, and optimal resource use.
- As access to the internet and mobile technology increased, the sharing economy also grew rapidly, with the first sharing platforms appearing between 2007 to 2009, around the time of the Great Recession.
- Companies such as Airbnb and Uber, as original proponents of the sharing economy, have revolutionized accommodation and completely transformed the taxi model. The successes of these companies triggered interest in this new business model, significantly influencing the market's growth over the years.
- Several industry experts have affirmed the role that technology continues to play in the growth of access-based consumption. According to Lynne Schneider, the Research Director at International Data Corporation (IDC): “Several technologies have become less expensive and more accessible, which has enabled new ways of sharing. These technologies allow platforms to match providers/owners with their potential consumers, extend third-party services to both (basic contract and payment systems), and facilitate trust by verifying all parties and goods/services, locating/ tracking shareable assets or deliveries, and resolving disputes.”
- Also, Attila Marton, a professor of digitalization at Copenhagen Business School, states: “Through digitalization, corporations have been able to tap into the informal economy and capture some of its value.”
Changing Preferences of Millennials and Generation Z
- The changing preferences of millennials and Generation Z is largely believed to be a key factor influencing the growing popularity of the access economy. Rather than owning assets, millennials prefer to experiment with various available options.
- Industry experts and research has shown that these young consumers are generally more comfortable with accessing products than owning them.
- Although millennials were the first cohort to drive the growth of the access economy, members of Gen Z are picking up what millennials started.
- A major driving force behind the changing preferences of young consumers is their habit of always being online. This cohort grew up using social networks; therefore, they value experiences over products.
- The essential affinity that these young cohorts have for "all things digital" has given rise to the sharing economy. Their desire for personalized customer experiences continues to influence the companies' adoption of an accessed-based business model.
- According to Faizan Bhatty, the co-founder and president of Halo Cars, the "increase in the adoption of the shared economy business models is driven largely by an asset-light lifestyle focused on experiences rather than the acquisition of products."
- Bhatty asserts: “Millennials and Gen-Z place tremendous value on maintaining cash liquidity. Shared economy helps maintain access to prime assets critical for shared experiences like transportation and accommodation, without tangible financial commitments.”
For this research on access economy startups and trends, we have leveraged the most reputable sources of information available in the public domain, including TechCrunch, StartUs Insights, and NS Business. To provide trends, we leveraged industry expert commentary, surveys, and market insights/trends reports. The most commonly mentioned driving factors in the access economy were selected and presented.