Sharing business models and using overcapacity

Sharing business models are about using “ over-capacity” to a benefit. As the sharing platform Yerdle estimates, 80% of the things in our homes are used less than once a month, and self-storage has gone up 1,000% over the past 3 decades. The accumulation of unused stuff also happens outside the home: cars are typically used less than one hour a day and usually by just one person at a time (in the US). We seem to be accumulating a lot of stuff that is not being used. This makes the case for sharing rather than buying.

Under-used cars (Buzz car) and seats in cars (BlaBla car), flats (AirBnB) and beds in flats (couchsurfing) are now made available to other potential users through business models which charge a ‘use fee’. In this way, excess capacity can be used more effectively. Robin Chase (Zipcar) refers to ‘car sharing’ business models and even ‘bed sharing’ business models to describe these new business models.

Which sharing business model will be next?



  • New business-win: In the case of BlaBla car and Buzz car (car sharing and peer car rental) everyone can be an entrepreneur. It can make driving more affordable, or, in the case of car sharing, can make driving a more fun and social experience.
  • Incumbent business-win: Although existing businesses may suffer (e.g. the hotel industry from AirBnB) some who act quickly enough (e.g. Avis who bought Zipcar) can transition to new business model models in this way.
  • Consumer-win: Convenience, cost, environmental impact, socialising benefits.
  • Sustainability-win: use of overcapacity, better use of current resources, reduced need to use new resources (e.g. to build new cars, hotel rooms)




The concept of “win-win-win business models” is introduced in the following article:

Bocken, N., Allwood, J. 2012. Strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of consumer goods by influencing stakeholders. Journal of Cleaner Production, 35, 118-129.