Saturday, February 25, 2012

Super-Marmite and Life-share-renting is a French startup (yes they exist!) with a really cool idea for gastronomically-influenced yet budget-minded people like me. It’s a website where you can sell portions of your own cooking with other people or buy portions of other people’s meals. It’s mostly in French as of now, but from the looks of it, English translation is underway.

Economically, this is genius. If you’re already cooking, the marginal cost of making an extra portion is really quite low - in terms of money, but also in terms of time and effects on the environment. Why not have people pay you to piggyback off of your fixed costs and compensate you at rates that are mutually beneficial? (i.e. cheaper than going out to eat for the consumer but enough to pay back the cost of the meal + a bit of profit for the cooker)

From an urbanist perspective is exploring another facet of this new life-share-renting phenomenon which is almost socialist in its philosophy yet capitalist in its methodology. People are realizing that if they open up their lives a bit and share (read: rent) out a place in their house (Airbnb) or a place in their car (Zimride) which would be underutilised anyway, they can:
a) make a profit;
b) get to know people and make new friends!

From the consumer perspective, one also gets the double benefit of:

a) acquiring services or goods at or below the market cost;
b) getting to know people and make new friends!

Arguably b) is the more important thing in both cases, but often a) can be a powerful motivating factor to get people to join or subscribe. I haven’t used yet (the prospect of having to converse with people completely in French for any extended period of time scares me a bit) but I will try it out this week! Let me know if you’ve had any experiences with Super-marmite, Zimride, or Airbnb and what you think about these new developments in social network realization.

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