Australia’s first sharing economy accelerator launches; head identifies start-up ‘must-haves’


The Sharing Hub: Steve Orenstein, Mike Rosenbaum, Will Davies, Alexis Soulpoulos.

A quartet of sharing economy founders have partnered to launch Australia’s first shareconomy accelerator in Sydney. The Sharing Hub will provide entrepreneurs with education, mentorship and investment opportunities, as well as a space for collaboration and sharing ideas, with the aim being to accelerate the life cycle of shareconomy startups.  

To promote the growth of the sharing economy, the accelerator will also work with policy makers from the NSW Government, which last year released a position paper acknowledging the importance of the emerging sector, estimated to be worth $504m in NSW alone.

The Sharing Hub is led by Mike Rosenbaum, the former CEO of Deals Direct and co-founder of self-storage marketplace Spacer.com.au. The leadership team also includes: Steve Orenstein, CEO and co-founder of on-demand express courier service Zoom2u; Alexis Soulopoulos, CEO and co-founder of pet-sitting network Mad Paws; and Will Davies, CEO and co-founder of car-sharing and rental service Car Next Door.

Prior to launch, the founders hosted events to build the community and provide start-ups with an opportunity to network with established shareconomy companies. The accelerator already consists of ten businesses who meet regularly to discuss issues in the sector across varying verticals including caravan sharing, home cleaning and labour hire.

According to Rosenbaum, the growth of Australia’s sharing economy in recent years has been driven by new technologies and start-ups have endless opportunities to create platforms where businesses and consumers can monetise their skills and underutilised resources.

“The sharing economy has facilitated the creation of new markets, and economic activity where some previously never existed,” he said.

“It’s opening up a number of interesting possibilities including on-demand access to goods and services, efficient utilisation of unused inventory of assets and increased employment including the rise of micro entrepreneurs. This sector has immense potential which is why we’re investing in growing this sector with The Sharing Economy Hub.”

Rosenbaum, a leading investor who sits on the board of several peer-to-peer startups, spoke to Dynamic Business about the genesis of The Sharing Hub, the state of Australia’s shareconomy, how the government can support it and opportunities for new start-ups to thrive.

What fuelled the launch of The Sharing Hub?

“Building a start-up can be a lonely place at times and, as leaders of share economy marketplaces across different verticals, Steve, Alexis, Will and I naturally gravitated toward each other for advice and knowledge sharing. What became apparent was that many of the frictions we encounter in our businesses are common and (almost therapeutically) we have been able to lean on each other to help solve operational problems.

“Philosophically we are all believers in the value of mutually beneficial sharing and that extends not just to our own business but with our peers; that’s why we are launching this accelerator.

“On top of sharing significant learnings, we can help other share economy businesses through the initial start-up phase (the hardest part), build infrastructure like IT platforms and call centre, and procure shared services such as legal, accounting or insurance. Some of our investor base is shared, and we are building an advisor network that brings capital, expertise and contacts to other share economy platforms.”

Is Australia’s shareconomy in a healthy state?

“Definitely. Australians are very progressive in their acceptance of new business models, with our country being in the top 10 globally for both Airbnb and Uber users despite the small population. New models are emerging out of the region such as Redbubble and 90 Seconds, which have generated great traction and funding support. Recent rhetoric from both federal and state governments demonstrates this is an industry on the rise.”

How can government support the shareconomy?   

“Collaborate consumption is based on trust and lawmakers have an opportunity to remove uncertainty and clear the path for the sector to flourish. We will continue to advocate for clearer regulations and support mechanisms from government agencies in the sector. We also believe there are many assets the governments and councils themselves can utilise in the share economy to boost their own coffers.”

What ‘must haves’ drive shareconomy success?

“Scale, exposure and simplicity. Share platforms often involve winner-takes-all competition because being sub-scale means you cannot service an efficient marketplace and you will eventually lose your customer base. Another must-have is being front of mind, and ensuring the initial user experience is a great one, as often you don’t get a second chance.”

What shareconomy trend is benefitting start-ups?

“It’s interesting to see the proliferation of ancillary service providers into Airbnb and Uber users. A number of businesses have sprung up which help manage properties for hosts, or lease cars for people to drive Ubers, or provide gap insurance for drivers. These businesses have piggybacked off their success and are an important cog in driving the ongoing success of the share economy.”

For more information about The Sharing Hub, contact Mike Rosenbaum on mike@spacer.com.au

See also: New ways for start-ups to thrive in the shareconomy: Ex Deals Direct CEO talks Spacer and  Share a ride with Car Next Door’s Will and Dave: the duo challenging car ownership