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Peerby brings tools and people together

by Megan Roelofs
Posted on July 11, 2019

As climate change is knocking on our door, there is great demand for ways to reduce consumption and waste. Daan Weddepohl, CEO and Founder, found a way for people to share together, instead of consume individually, on his sharing economy platform Peerby.

“Peerby is a website and mobile application that enables people to borrow consumer products from others nearby, ranging from tools, bikes, party gear to electronics, strollers, and much more. Essentially, every object that you only need once or once in a while. We enable people to share the idle capacity of their goods. The average drill is estimated to be used somewhere between 6 and 12 minutes in its life. That means that 97% of the average consumer power drill capacity sits idle. With Peerby, 32 people could benefit from one drill instead of all buying one individually. It is one of the best ways to reduce our material footprint. All the way from the mining, production to the logistics and packaging.”

A literal spark
“The spark that ignited the idea in my head was quite literal. There was a fire in my house and it burned down. I didn’t have a house or any of my stuff. This forced me to become interdependent on others by borrowing stuff and stay on people’s couches. Then I realized that it is actually quite nice to be in a situation of interdependency. It truly creates stronger relationships if you are to a certain extent dependent on each other. That experience really changed my perspective on interdependence. We sort of have isolated ourselves to be lonely consumers when there is so much stuff around us. We could be living in abundance if we opened our eyes a little bit more.”

“Through Peerby, we are trying to stimulate manufacturers to create products that are designed to be shared and paid for by their performance.”

Higher quality, lower quantity
This deeper realization of what a social entrepreneurship can mean for society is intertwined in many aspects of Peerby. Not only the social and environmental impact are considered by Weddepohl, he also has a vision of Peerby pioneering a new business model: “Why would you buy a product that isn’t very good? There is a clear issue right now with the alignment of manufacturers and consumers. In fact, if a manufacturer creates a product that will last forever, the enterprise will perish. They are forced to design for obsolescence.” Weddepohl aims to align the interests of manufacturers and consumers: “Through Peerby, we are trying to stimulate manufacturers to create products that are designed to be shared and paid for by their performance. A higher quality product would then both serve the interests of the consumer as the manufacturer.”

The first steps of Weddepohls’ vision are becoming reality as Peerby is growing. In the Netherlands and Belgium, multiple pay-per-use models are tested on the platform. In the Netherlands active renters store, maintain and rent out Kaercher pressure washers. In Belgium, local brands Eliet, Barbecook, and Umbrosa are working with Peerby and they are conducting a pilot: “We are working with GPS trackers, so the products are ‘floating’ from place to place. They are moving from one lender to another, basically making a round through the city.”

A sharing platform for everything
Weddepohl believes that there are several factors at play that have contributed to their success: “Peerby enables the exchange of a wide range of products, whereas many other sharing economy platforms focus on a niche, such as real estate or camper vans. We cover a wide range of products, which is a very complicated model as every product needs to fit into the model. But we think that very few of those products, on their own, could be a viable market by itself. But by combining hundreds different types of products, the total market becomes large enough to be really interesting and viable. It is a tough cookie, though. There have been hundreds of similar start-ups and 99% of them have failed to make this model work. We are pretty unique in that we are still around and that we see this much traction going on.”

TFI Growth Track
Different elements of the TFI Growth Track convinced Weddepohl to participate in the accelerator programme: “Definitely the partners that together built this programme. We thought that they could be a great source of knowledge and inspiration for what we are doing. ING, Amazon Web Services, Deloitte, Dell, sounded like they could really help. Dell and Amazon for the technology, Deloitte for the strategy, and ING, hopefully, in the future for some smart connections between the financial and technical aspects of our business.” Other reasons to apply were the research insights that helped Peerby come up with a new user flow for their app, which is now being developed. Lastly, the tailor made workshops were of great value: “At this stage, where you are going from a start-up to a scale-up, you really need a tailored programme. You can’t follow a cookie cutter approach as you can with start-ups who generally need to hurdle over very similar obstacles. The TFI Growth Track really tried to figure out what is the specific need for the participating start-ups.”

“The partners that together built this programme were a big reason for us to apply.”

The future
Now that Peerby is rapidly transforming into a scale-up, their future ambitions are growing along with them: “We really want to contribute to creating more sustainable models of consumption. I believe we live in a world of abundance. It is really hard to change these models, because much of our economy currently depends on such linear systems. Therefore, we hope that we can create business models and jobs for many people, so that there is an alternative where people can step into. Both for manufacturers as for people that need work now. That is what we need to do quickly.”

When asked when Weddepohl considers Peerby to be a success, he says that he believes that they are already successful: “When we started, I thought it would be amazing if we would be the biggest goods sharing platform in the Netherlands. We are there, but I also started to realize that every time you achieve a milestone, you look forward and see that there is much more that needs to be done. The next milestone is already in sight. I therefore think that the best and most realistic answer is that it is a journey. In a way, as long as we are successfully on the journey that builds our vision, we will always be successful.”

Want to know more about Peerby? Check our selected start-ups or their LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter!