The sharing economy platforms would like you to know that it is not just for coastal hipsters, okay?
Ordained members of the sharing economy, such as Etsy, Airbnb and RelayRides, appreciate the press coverage. Really, they do. Except when that one inevitable piece of criticism comes up. You know, when a story like this, or this, dismisses what they're doing as only working for coastal hipsters. Or worse, yuppies.
Those three companies defended themselves against that stereotype, and in a way, the entire ecosystem of sharing economy startups, on a panel at SXSW today.
The median age of Etsy sellers is 40, said Juliet Gorman, director of communications for the Brooklyn-based startup. The household income of Etsy's users is lower than the national median income, and the company's 850,000 global sellers are not concentrated in New York and San Francisco. Alaska is a very high buying state, she noted.
Same for Airbnb. The company's marketplace has properties in 35,000 different cities around the world, and their hosts' average age is on the older side, because people who own homes tend to be older, said Airbnb co-founder and CTO Nate Blecharczyk. "It is the very opposite of the yuppie phenomenon," he says.
RelayRides, the youngest startup on the panel, has had most of its activity focused in large, coastal markets, but that is because it is only beginning to expand, founder Shelby Clark said. It's now in 1400 cities, but he also insisted that his service was not just a coastal phenomenon. "The vast majority of our cars have activity," he said. "We're still in early adoption phase and moving more towards the mainstream."
[Image source: Etsy]