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Takeaways from the OuiShare Summit

Last May, the first OuiShare Summit took place at Mutinerie Coworking, with the kind support of our friends Mutinerie and BlaBlaCar. The aim of the event was to bring together some of the movers and shakers of the Collaborative Economy in Europe to collectively move ideas and projects forward. Out of the global community we are building within OuiShare, 120 people gathered in Paris on a sunny saturday.

The planning was quite ambitious. For this first edition of the OuiShare Summit, we hosted no less than 14 talks and one roundtable in the morning, featuring awesome speakers from Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, UK and France, and spent the afternoon brainstorming on the future of OuiShare and friend projects after a convivial lunch setup by the tasteful OuiShare Food team (thanks Rachel, Caroline, Julie, …).

But before considering the future, looking back at our history was necessary. Antonin, co-founder and originator of OuiShare, told us how, from couchsurfing in South America to a french blog on Collaborative Consumption, from a Facebook group of enthusiasts to the first OuiShare events, a combination of online and offline engagement led us to where we are today.

Despite a few technical glitches and some sunburns on stage, we are very enthusiastic about how the event played out. Videos are coming very soon but in the meantime, a few key ideas are crystallizing while looking back at this amazing day.

Sharing is happening everywhere, at a local level

The “use” side of the Collaborative Economy, whether you call it Collaborative Consumption or the Sharing Economy, has been spreading across the globe and industries at a tremendous rate, and shows no sign of slowing down. However we observe a critical role of culture and local specificities in how people are sharing, and lessons from the local OuiShare Connectors are a powerful insight for entrepreneurs with a global perspective.

In Spain for instance, Albert Canigueral, founder of ConsumoColaborativo, identified shared mobility, kids-related services, p2p education, crowdfunding (even for the commons) and time banks and as the most vibrant local sectors, while WiFi sharing is gaining momentum.

Thomas Berman, co-founder of harDU.no (goods sharing), told us that the high level of trust among people in the Nordic Countries should represent a critical enabler for the local Sharing Economy. Nordic societies, however, still strongly value individual ownership, and the tension between these two dynamics will be interesting to follow in the near future.
Germans are very sensitive about sustainability, which is a good thing for sharing; the key challenge is in trust between strangers”, said KoKonsum and AutoNetzer co-founder Daniel Bartel.

When looking at Italy instead, you see a rising interest in the maker/craft/opendesign projects such openwear or Bottega21, which are that are tightly related to italian artisanal traditions.

In this new economy based on internet-enabled offline interactions, the country perspective might however not be specific enough. Understanding the local perspective is the purpose of Collaborative Cities, a webdocumentary on the Collaborative Economy by Maxime Leroy, powered by OuiShare. Maxime will travel in the most vibrant cities to meet local entrepreneurs and change-makers of this new economy, showcasing their initiatives to the world.

A quest for meaning and community

A key lesson that successful collaborative models have told us so far, is that one of the main driving forces of this new economy goes beyond the search for profit or sustainable lifestyle aspirations: that is meaning, belonging and connectedness.

La Ruche Qui Dit Oui empowers food communities by providing the means for consumers and producers to connect at the local level, providing more than the simple access to good food, and fostering human interaction. As Marc-David Choukroun puts it:

We connect people, but everything is done by the community.

The Parisian coworking space Mutinerie provides more than flexible working facilities for freelancers. Its founders, les mutins, seek to connect the local Social and Digital Innovation community by providing a hub for meaningful conversations, explained Antoine van den Broek. The OuiShare Summit is a great example of such events, bringing together different community circles intersecting in that space.

When Magali Boisseau founded BedyCasa, she was enabling her community (her friends, and then the friends of her friends, and then…) to travel by homestay, creating human connections between the guest and the host, as an alternative to impersonal hotel experiences.

Trust between peers as a critical enabler

When people connect online to share offline, they face a form of social risk, which could range from having your car stolen to spending a night at some creepy guy’s place. To engage in such transactions requires the establishment of trust with between strangers.

P2P room renting service AirBnB achieves this with a combination of detailed profiles, user ratings, references, social proximity (i.e. friends in common) and the coverage of users’ property by financial guarantees, explained Olivier Grémillon, CEO for France, Belgium and Morocco.

Furthermore, why should not we take advantage of existing social dynamics? Juho Makkonen suggested to leverage both online networks and offline interactions, and to tap into existing communities as trust facilitators for the Collaborative Economy.

The open source platform he is building, ShareTribe, allows members of, say, a university campus, to share goods, services, rides or places in a trusted local environment.

Production is getting collaborative, too

Changing Consumption patterns with collaborative dynamics has brought the idea of peer-to-peer in the spotlight, but it’s not enough. In a very inspiring talk entitled Towards a Cooperative, Small-Scale, Local, P2P Production Future (also available in Spanish), our OuiShare Roma Connector and friend Simone Cicero drew the picture of a Collaborative Production future, connecting ideas and concepts of leading thinkers such as Umair Haque, Michel Bauwens, John Robb and Douglas Rushkoff, among others.

While the overall open hardware movement is spreading with the rise of distributed manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing, third places like FabLabs and HackerSpaces and events like Maker Faires, several initiatives are currently developing cutting-edge design and knowledge commons for a P2P mode of Production.

For instance, Open Source Ecology is developing a set of open source industrial machines capable of building a small community with modern comfort, while the first prototype of the open source car WikiSpeed was built in three months, using collaborative and agile manufacturing processes from the software community. Together, they are developing Extreme Manufacturing (XM), a methodology for rapid open hardware development.

As industrial production processes are becoming more inclusive, allowing anyone to engage in co-design and co-creation, what will be the consequences on the value of products and the way they are consumed?

Cooperation is not yet another business model.

Apart from resources and human labor, creative processes often require capital. This is where crowdfunding platforms allow innovative and creative projects (like Collaborative Cities) to be funded by distributed capital – that is you, me, and many individuals grouping together provide the funds. Vincent Ricordeau, CEO and co-founder of KissKissBankBank, pointed us that $1.5 billion were raised through crowdfunding in 2011.

The crowdfunding market is currently structured around different models: rewards-based donations, peer-to-peer lending, and equity-based crowdfunding (aka micro venturing), but new players are focusing on specific verticals or integrating complementary community-based services.

Whole industries are getting disrupted, bottom-up

Take the Automotive Industry for instance, arguably the most vibrant sector of the Collaborative Economy today. Ten years after Jeremy Rifkin wrote The Age of Access, shared mobility is fundamentally changing the way people think about car ownership. Especially the younger ones, to whom owning a car has lost its appeal of independance, which is now embodied by electronic and social media devices.

As an alternative to car ownership, shared mobility combines different schemes. Streamlined by internet and mobile platforms, real-time matching of drivers and passengers gives another dimension to the sharing of car journeys, especially for long trips. Ridesharing pioneer BlaBlaCar (covoiturage.fr) is now adding 3000 users a day, and their european community now counts no less than 2 million members, says founder Frédéric Mazzella, who is looking forward serving up to 10 millions users in a few years.

On a local level, peer-to-peer carsharing is probably the most disruptive shared mobility system, allowing people to rent their own cars by the hour or the day. Given the very high number of players in this field, we asked our friend Cédric Giorgi to moderate a roundtable with 5 entrepreneurs’ to discuss their views on this highly dynamic sector: SocialCar from Spain, AutoNetzer from Germany, and 3 of the 9 (!) french players: CityzenCar, Voiturelib and Deways.

And beyond the use of cars, even the way they are manufactured is being challenged by collaborative innovations such as WikiSpeed or Local Motors.

Connecting the dots, and people

As Kyra Maya Phillipps, co-author of the upcoming The Misfit Economy reminded us, innovation mostly does not emanate from large companies and top-down organizations. A large part is completely bottom-up and comes from gangsters, hackers, activists: people thinking and acting on the edge of the system, collaborating and prototyping “without asking permission”.

This idea somehow echoes to what we want to achieve through OuiShare: telling the stories of these entrepreneurs and change-makers who are working towards this new, distributed, collaborative and human-centric capitalism we call the Collaborative Economy.

People like Morgan Segui, building a collaborative factory for Fair Trade Electronic components. Like Nicolas Buttin, connecting through Witthaa designers/upcyclers with people who want to give their used objects a new life. Or like Anne-Laure Brun-Buisson, who is setting up ShareLex, a platform for open source legal solutions to address the needs of citizens and entrepreneurs.

Those are the individuals we want to put in the spotlight. We want to connect their efforts at a local and global level, and we want to build together the future of this meaningful economy.

Moving forward, together

How are we going to do this? Well, we took some time in the afternoon to think about it. Honestly, we had not anticipated that after such an intensive morning, more than 80 people would be staying with us during the afternoon to brainstorm on the future of OuiShare, and we were pretty excited about it. So we divided the attendees into four groups to reflect on four key challenge

  • How can we develop a collaborative online media with a strong impact promoting the Collaborative Economy – with quality content?
  • How can we foster local OuiShare communities with inspiring events?
  • How can OuiShare be valuable to collaborative entrepreneurs?
  • Which organization and culture should we build for sustainable global impact?

In a pretty messy yet convivial process, bringing together such amazing people from various countries and backgrounds, we got many fresh ideas on what OuiShare should be seeking to achieve, and how it should operate as a distributed organization. Thanks a lot to our super cool friends Christophe Tallec, Maëva Tordo, and OuiShare Connectors Paul, Magalie, Albert, Thomas and Simone for their awesome job in facilitating these workshops!

At the end of the day, we were thrilled by the energy and passionate conversations that emerged between all these fantastic people who are working for this new economy. Like our kind advisor Thanh Nghiem, we really felt there is “such a huge thing taking off” during the Summit.

But this enthusiasm should not blind us: there is still A LOT to do (pretty much everything). During his talk about the Contribution Economy, Christian Fauré reminded us that to make the Collaborative Economy truly emancipating, we will have to produce knowledge – not only know-how. This is what we intend to do with this new media, and we are looking forward seeing every one of you helping us on this journey. Think of this online place as a repository for knowledge common good, that will fuel offline action.

Speaking of good, who else better to end this summary, than our mentor Nathan Stern?

Good is no longer what you think is Good.
Good is what your peers think Good is.


Graphic recoding by Silvia Robertelli; Photos by Delphine Duriaux and Natalie Ortiz.
Thanks to Célya Gruson-Daniel for the full Storify of the day !

You can also share the Spanish and Catalan versions of this summary – thanks Albert 🙂