Neighborgoods – Peer to Peer Borrowing

Enrico Cassinelli —  June 8, 2012

Did you know that giving away the stuff to you neighbors is cool, and it can positively affect the entire community you live in?

Two weeks ago we talked a little bit about the CoSume Project, a collaborative marketplace where you can share, borrow and buy stuff with your friends.

In the meanwhile I’ve tried out another cool Collaborative Consumption application, called NeighborGoods, which allows you to share and look for stuff in your neighborhood.

Sadly the service is not yet very used here in Italy, so I did not had chance to try it “for real” but there’s a Test Item (a yellow ladder ;-) ) which can be rented as a test.

 

How it Works

When you login for the first time, you are asked to verify your mail and set you position. You can then compile your personal profile, which a quick and easy process.

Borrowing

Clicking on “Find Stuff” will led you to the place where all the stuff is listed: you can select how far you are willing to go to pick up the item you need, you can reorder the list by various parameters, and you can narrow down you search by selecting specific categories.

When you find the item you need to use you can click on the red “Borrow this” button, and the borrowing process starts.

You are asked to input your telephone number, and to write down how you are going to use the item.

Lastly you need to accept the 3 golden rules of sharing:

  1. Play nice
  2. Treat other people’s stuff the way you’d want your stuff to be treated
  3. Show up on time

At this point the owner receive your request and will be able to answer by compiling a Pickup Reminder Form to let you know when and where you should pickup the item and, if needed, he or she can also set a Return Reminder to remember you when to return it.

The two reminders can be synced up with google calendar or an ICS application, and are not mandatory, since everything can be arranged verbally with the internal messaging system.

When a user returns an item, the owner will mark the transaction as Closed, and both will be able to leave a feedback: the borrower will give a feedback on both the owner and the item borrowed.

Items can also be rented, or a deposit can be asked when someone borrows them.

Sharing

When you take from the community, you should also give something back: with Neighborgoods it’s very easy to share your stuff, write down the name of what you’re sharing, pick a category and say how much did you pay for it (this is used to calculate how much people save by borrowing what they need, and to calculate a user’s impact on his community, i.e. how much neighbors have saved thanks to him/her).

After this simple step the item will be saved in your inventory, where you can further customize it by adding pictures, description and select to whom you want to share with (anyone – Friends, Groups and Verified Neighbors – Friends and Groups – Share privately with group).

Trust

Trust in the sharing economy is still an issue, which is firing up the debate all over the Internet.

In Neighborgoods you can verify your account, and become a “Verified Neighbor“: they will send a Snail Mail to your physical address with a secret code, and you’ll have to input that code in your personal profile.

Probably it’s not a bullet proof protection, but it’s better than nothing.

I’ve browsed around the personal profiles of the users, to check feedback and comments, and I did not run across a single negative evaluation, so I guess they have not (yet?)  encountered any major problem.

I’ve started by sharing my bike, and I’ve invited all my FB friends… let’s see who join ;-)

 

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Enrico Cassinelli

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