The 3rd volume of BHIVE Workspace’s flagship event series called BuzzFest organized by BHIVE Workspace on 24th January saw some eminent thought leaders and speakers come together to explore the topic “Sharing Economy : Moving towards a collaborative Future”. The event drew overwhelming response with over 600 registrations, resulting in the event being super housefull. Over 2000 people watched the event Livestream on social media. The conference was graced by founders of some of the pioneering sharing economy start-ups and top VCs, who shared their thoughts and insights on sharing economy. The keynote for the event was addressed by Greg Morgan, Co-founder and CEO of Zoomcar.

Here are some glimpses from the event, a video by our event partner – denture Capital:

Following are some insights shared by the speakers and panelists.

# Part 1 : Panel Discussion 1

The topic for the first panel discussion wasDon’t Own – Just Share. The way forward for Indian economy” and the discussion was moderated by Sindhu Kashyap from Yourstory.

The panel comprised of the following 6 speakers :

  • Gaurav Arora – Head of Amazon Startup Ecosystem, APAC
  • Aravind Sanka – Co-Founder @ Rapido
  • Rohin Pinto – Head of Karnataka @ OYO Rooms
  • Jitendra Jagadev – Co-Founder @ Nestaway

Key thoughts shared in the first panel discussion were as follows:

Sindhu began the discussion with a brief introduction of SE. She said that we humans, get intrinsically familiar with the concept of sharing as we share things since childhood with our siblings. But monetisation of sharing is the new addition. Adding economics around the idea of sharing, enables revenue-earning for the asset-owner.

  • Gaurav Arora from Amazon said that Amazon Web Services helps leverage cloud servers for many rather than having each one own their separate servers, thereby contributing to the “Sharing Economy:”. He said that sharing economy allows people to afford more luxurious assets than they otherwise could. The genesis; the net effect by connecting the dots in utilisation is good for the whole economy. Sharing economy has a multiplier effect since it matches people whose needs are completely complimentary for the same resource. He further added that sharing economy has undergone a fundamental cultural mind shift and that trust factor is a big influencer for driving collaborative consumption. He emphasised that buying and maintaining an asset requires more effort. Hence, sharing makes more sense for lesser usage while owning makes sense for larger usage due to economies of scale. “Apart from rational benefits, sharing economy has environmental benefits too. After all, sharing is caring!”, he concluded.
  • Aravind Sanka talked about how Rapido is based on sharing economy. Rapido is a two-wheeler or bike ride-sharing platform used for pooling vehicle for office commute. Rapido is actually a common man’s vehicle with more penetration in rural areas and tier 2 cities. He added that Rapido has the potential to improve income levels of  underemployed and employed people in India. He revealed that 10-15% of Rapido’s customers are females and that Rapido is at a very nascent stage where a lot needs to be done. On sharing economy, he said that the it will evolve as technology (which is its major enabler) evolves.
  • Rohin Pinto said that OYO exists to solve the problem of short stay in India. OYO aims to solve the challenges that India faces in the hospitality sector by offering an amazing vacation rental experience. It offers 70,000 rooms for the different classes of customers. OYO helps to build a sustainable ecosystem around sharing by reducing the operational costs by sharing hotel resources. On sharing economy, he said that the 65% young Indians below 35 years are sharing economy’s quick adopters while owning is still considered a status symbol in India amongst the older generations.
  • Shan Gehlot said that MyIndianStay solves the problem of travel stay by offering 40,000 rooms across India. It’s like an Airbnb for India. He said that India is diverse and MyIndianStay offers an opportunity to share moments and experience the local culture in India. He added that MyIndianStay offers properties that range from Rs 500 to 50,000 per night. He further added that processes play a very important part in the overall experience in this industry, for example, a small problem like tap leakage damages the entire guest experience.
  • Shesh Paplikar said that sharing economy helps to boost productivity by utilizing spare resources through the use of technology. Comparing BHIVE Workspace with Nestaway, he said that what BHIVE Workspace does for desks, Nestaway does for the beds. He also said that there has been a consumer behavior shift not just for youngsters but for older generations as well. He said that BHIVE Workspace solves the problem of office workspace for India by offering shared co-working spaces. Having worked in New York, he felt that sharing economy is evolving in both the developed and the developing countries and that co-working makes more sense in India than in US since India has more electricity and internet issues while the people in India are a lot more aspirational than in US (They aspire the same quality as in the US). Sharing helps to arbitrage by bridging that gap. Sharing economy has already evolved in US and India is fast catching up. “Demand for aspirational, high-end and better high quality services will always be there in India.”, he concluded.
  • Jitendra Jagadev started out by talking about Nestaway and that it offers 30,000 rooms for people in 13 cities in India. Nestaway is not only present in the metros but also in the lower grade cities like Kota, Vijayawada and Faridabad. He said that demand for long stay rentals is coming up not just in India but in China and US as well. Nestaway enables sharing of houses, utility and living costs. Nestaway can be considered the largest virtual city of the world going by the billion people it hosts currently. On sharing economy, he said that sharing is the way to preserve cost and to save more, to do what you always loved to do. It definitely improves affordability to a better life. Collaborative Consumption, as its also called, helps to save more, bringing down costs drastically to make aspirations affordable.

Audience Question 1 : Bottlenecks for Sharing Economy in India

The main issues hindering sharing economy in India that were discussed in the first panel were:

  1. Lack of infrastructure
  2. Govt regulations, laws are slow in catching up like Airbnb could not take off in india; maybe all sharing economy companies could be aggregated together to give them more unity and  bargaining power in getting legal clearances
  3. Trust and security issues; people are very apprehensive of the frauds etc.
  4. Lack of skills in India; skills matter; education and degrees are not so valued in this industry
  5. India has huge scale; the only challenge is competition due to the fragmented market

Audience Question 2: Expansion of Sharing Economy to Tier 2,3 cities

On being asked from the audience on thoughts on expansion to Tier 2 cities, all the panelists replied that their ventures are after all businesses at the end of the day, although they do bring in social welfare in the country. And the bottomline is that a business needs to make profits and be sustainable for it to exist. The sharing economy companies are also answerable their investors. So they would be able move to a Tier 2 city only if it makes business sense to go there, for example, Rapido exists in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and so does Nestaway in a few Tier 2 cities like Kota, Vijayawada and Faridabad.

# Part 2: Keynote by Greg Morgan

Greg started out with talking about his venture. He said that Zoomcar is the first company in the self-driven car rentals space in India and offers the full range of aspirational, posh, midsize and big cars in simple and luxurious locations. It also offers 2000 electric cars. It is a new business model shift from chauffeur-driven cars to self-driven cars. Zoomcar started operations in 2013 with the new concept of self-drive. He added that the car rental industry will bear the brunt of pump in fuel prices.

On sharing economy, he said that pooling assets together is the future, the way forward. He added that the concept is very pervasive; not only in tier 1 but in tier 2 and 3 cities as well. The perception of owning assets has changed. There has been an evolution in the psyche of the way people want to access assets. Early adopters of sharing economy are under the age of 35 who are also very technology friendly. Though other generations are now aware of it too. He also said that sharing economy is at an inflexion point and that the next 2-3 years will be more exciting. Sharing economy will be a real business that will make money. On the economics side, he said that the people will have 50-70% more disposable income on account of resource sharing and fractional usage. Also, Zoomcar alone will strip off 50,000+ cars from the roads of the country. Zoomcar has also launched Zoomcar Associate Program (ZAP), for anyone who is willing to earn revenue by renting out their car on a part-time basis. Collaborative Consumption has the power to build a brighter community due to network effect : a viral phenomenon. Sharing economy will continue to enable sharing between hyperlocal owners and users. He concluded saying that sharing economy couldn’t have existed 10 years before as the technology required wasn’t there at that time.

# Part 3 : Panel Discussion 2

The topic for the second panel discussion was Sharing Economy Trends: The VCs Weigh In” and this discussion was moderated by Nivedita Bhattacharjee from TechInAsia. The panel comprised of the following 4 speakers :

  • Shubhankar Bhattacharya, Venture Partner @ Kae Capital

Key thoughts shared in the second panel discussion were as follows:

Nivedita began the discussion with a brief introduction of sharing economy. She also asked the audience for a quick show of hands, for people who had used Uber that day to come to that event venue.

  • Shubhankar Bhattacharya said that if you can get past owning, it definitely saves a lot of money. Indians, by nature, demand quality and value for money. He also said that people should not form a hard judgement about a startup based on a few stray bad or negative feedbacks here and there.
  • Anuj Duggal briefed a little about the Google Launchpad Program saying that it provides the technology that helps startups to scale. Next, he went on to say that startups need to build an MVP as soon as possible and also find a fit that answers the 2 questions : Where exactly is the product solving a problem? How many are engaging with the product? They then need to stress on user experience quality and identify right mentor network to guide them through.
  • Alok Sharma talked about seed funding and said that one needs to get the use cases right, from utilitarian to hedonistic. He also said that the cost of customer acquisition is much higher in India and one really needs to first identify how to find the critical base.
  • Prayank Swaroop said that the sharing economy market is ~157 bn consumer households. As Principal of Accel Partners, which has funded TaxiForSure, in the taxi-aggregator space and Rentomojo, in the furniture rentals space, Prayank said that the target segment for Rentomojo are young professionals and newly marrieds. The speed of internet technology adoption is super high amongst this target segment which makes the adoption go socially viral, scaling superfast from 0 to 300mn in 3 months. There has been a fundamental shift in the consumer mindset. He further added that there have been a lot of disruptions in this industry and GST will be another such disruption. He ended saying that one need to first identify the processes and then bring in technology for scaling it. On a macro level, he said that although both income and consumption levels are going up in India, yet the problems associated with income and english still persist.

Quiz on Sharing economy

Questions on sharing economy were asked in between the event and exciting goodies were given out to the winners. Questions asked were :

  1. Name 3 companies in the transport sector which fall under the sharing economy.  Possible answers – OLA, UBER, Rapido
  2. Name the first company in India to focus on self-driven cars – Zoomcar
  3. Name 3 crowdfunding platform – Ketto, Kickstarter, Wishberry (Possible answers, there are few more)
  4. Which is the phone network to give free local and roaming calls to any network and the lowest international call tariffs in the world – Jio
  5. Which famous hospitality chain made a buzz when they started offering rooms to unmarried couples by a “Relationship Mode” option – OYO Rooms

Here’s the full recording from the event.

Partners for the Event

Edureka, a leading online education start-up was among the main sponsors for the event. The Food Partner was 48 East, specializing in eclectic Asian gourmet food. TechInAsia and Yourstory were the media partners for the event. The Outreach Partners included HeadStart, TiE Bangalore Chapter, IAN, Nasscom’s 10,000 Startups, Vodafone, Zivaza, Redbull and Sheroes. While the Event Partner was denture Capital.  

Anushri Jain
An easy going person that works well with everyone. She enjoys being around different types of people and I like to always challenge herself to constantly improve. She says knowing a million different things increases her creativity, and increases cross-pollination of great ideas from one discipline to another.

Graduated in the field of IT, Ansuhri holds MBA degree from IIM Lucknow. She has also cleared the prestigious CSCP and CSCA certifications.