The economy of sharing apps

The way technology is changing how we do business

Graphic by Justin Ladia

Smartphones and apps have changed many aspects of our daily lives, including the way we do business. The sharing economy can be described as the business of sharing underused resources between people.

Entrepreneurs have been using this business model to enable consumers to connect with sellers easily, quickly, and affordably through a variety of apps. Some of today’s most popular smartphone apps are those which fall under the sharing economy business platform.

In a world where many people are trying to reduce excess waste and spending, the ability to share resources and save money is attractive. It also provides ways for ordinary people to make extra money on the side without investing a lot. If you have a spare room, you can easily list it on a room-sharing app and rent it out.

Smartphone apps have made it incredibly easy to create a virtual marketplace for these businesses. Most apps include the ability to review sellers, letting other potential customers know what personal experiences were like dealing with that individual.

This allows for a form of self-regulation, since bad reviews will potentially prevent sellers from gaining customers, and good reviews will attract more. As well, many apps do not allow for the exchange of money in person, and instead opt for virtual transfers. This removes the danger of robbery or the possibility of a customer being ripped off.

Signing up as a seller sometimes requires some additional background checks. However, signing up as a consumer requires simply downloading the required app, bringing the marketplace to the palm of your hand.

Here is a review of some of the most popular and interesting apps available.



One of the most recognizable sharing economy apps is Uber. The Uber business model allows ordinary people with access to a vehicle to connect to other people who are looking for a ride. The idea is that transactions are completed safely without the exchange of money, since the transaction is handled through the app via credit card Uber allows you to rate drivers and provides a more economical way to commute than standard taxis.

The app also enables you to estimate the cost of your ride, split the bill among fellow riders, and share your GPS location with family or friends so they know when you will arrive.

For sellers, it is a flexible way to make extra money.

Currently, Uber is not available in Winnipeg, possibly due to licensing requirements for taxi fleets by the province’s Taxicab Board.



AirBnB allows sellers to rent out spare rooms or entire homes while the owner is away. For sellers, this is an easy way to make money on space not being used. For renters, the rates are generally a lot cheaper than a standard hotel. There is also the opportunity to rent unique accommodations, such as one of the 1400 castles that AirBnB reports is listed.

The app allows users to search for available space in their city of choice, and returns search results of accommodations available during their visit. Once a desirable place is found, the user may request to book the space. All payment is handled through the app, via credit card.

AirBnB is available in over 190 countries, covering most of Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. It is available in Canada.



When nature calls and you don’t have any public restroom options, AirPnP can help you. This app allows users to find nearby toilets for rent. Sellers can post details about their restrooms, detailing things like the softness of towels, or the luxuriousness of hand soap. Users can rate their bathroom experience, and choose their preferred toilet experience based on other reviews.

The founders developed this app after finding they could not find legal places to relieve themselves during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The app is currently web-based, but AirPnP is currently developing a smartphone app.

As of this publication, there is only one toilet listed on AirPnP in Winnipeg.



For those who say no to economy seating and bad airline food, there is JetSmarter. A little more high-end than Uber, JetSmarter connects users with independent airline fleets. The app allows you to create your own itinerary, and then matches you with an available jet. You can book a jet up to six hours before you need to take off. The available jets are usually flying on an empty leg, and would otherwise not be carrying any passengers.

JetSmarter investors include the likes of Jay-Z and members of the Saudi Arabian royal family, among others.

A flight from Winnipeg to Toronto on a Premier 1 light jet aircraft starts at $10,200, and goes up to $48,100 on a Global 5000 long-range jet. A refundable 10 per cent deposit is requested before booking.