7. THE POWER OF SHARING
Sharing is on the rise in Oregon. In Portland alone there are organizations that facilitate tool sharing, food sharing, toy sharing, and clothes sharing. But apart from car-sharing companies, few entrepreneurs have figured out how to monetize a model that relies on people not spending money or not buying things. Bright Neighbor, a Portland-based “social network for the transaction of barter,” launching in July, aims to change all that. Oregon Business chats with CEO Arnold Strong and founder Randy White.
White: We will be the first mobile peer-to-peer lending app out there. You launch, take a video of that bike in your garage, and suddenly you have a mobile device that makes it easier to inventory things to rent, lend, sell or barter.
OB: How will you monetize the service?
White: Three ways. For those transactions that are rental based, we will take 15%. Another line is a partnership with insurance companies. If you break my John Deere lawnmower, you want it insured. The third item is a transaction on deposit. If someone is going to engage in a sharing behavior, they want to make sure that person is not going to take off with it.
OB: What market niche does Bright Neighbor fill?
Strong: the ability to borrow, lend or trade instead of spending capital is really the market we feel is ready to be unleashed. All of these are ways to unlock value from people’s garages, kitchen shelves, to make sure you’re maximizing value out of everything rather than having it sit in the shed.
8. FOLLOW THE WATER
International aid organizations typically measure the impact of their clean water or sanitation programs via surveys, which are expensive to execute and often produce inaccurate results. Portland State University engineering professor Evan Thomas, in partnership with Stevens Water Monitoring Systems, has developed a sensor platform (SWEETSense) that will deliver real-time data about the use of water purification filters, high-efficiency cook stoves, and other products used in global development initiatives.
Since the platform is compact and inexpensive, it can be installed on a large scale, says Thomas, who will deploy the sensors this fall in Rwanda as part of a project distributing water filters to more than 600,000 households. The sensors will measure
usage and performance, allowing aid workers to monitor the effectiveness of the filters and tweak education efforts accordingly.
Lack of access to clean water is one of the major causes of death and disease in Rwanda, says Thomas. “We think this [technology] will lead to significant health improvements.”