You’re cash-poor but time-rich, and looking to test the waters of the sharing economy? Two new Berlin apps promise you something for (almost) nothing.
For anyone who has ever been stranded outside Ikea wondering how to get your Billy shelf home or tried to move flea market furniture finds on the tram (guilty on both counts), Ponybob could be the thing for you. Launched at the beginning of February, this app aims to match users needing transport with very kind vehicle owners who might happen to be driving their way, for free (or a payment that they work out between themselves, over chat). Keen to see how good Berlin’s Samaritans really are, I decided to give it a try. The first snag is that so far it’s only available on Android – undeterred, I switched from my iPhone to my old tablet. Signing up is easy (through Facebook or email), and then, through its very simple interface, you just click on “I need help” or “I can help” accordingly. I entered my details – pick-up and drop-off address, number of items I wanted to schlep – and eagerly waited for a response. Unfortunately, I only got one a few days later. I’d like to think it’s nothing personal. For anything like this to even have a chance at working, it needs to build up a critical mass of users – and a more explicit way for drivers to make a few bucks off their good deeds wouldn’t hurt.
This one also sets up users that need something with those that have it, but here both parties should (supposedly) get more tangible benefits. It’s a cash-free trade platform that can help you get, for example, French lessons in exchange for moving help. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the app launched in Berlin in February. Logging in, you can see what users are looking for, and what they have on offer. Once you’ve found something you want, you email your trading partner directly – you can see each other’s real email addresses, which I found a bit disconcerting. I like the Kleinanzeige way where you’re not publishing your address to whoever sees it. And what of the offerings? There were some physical items (books like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Lonely Planet Japan, a TV, even a sofa) and services such as piano lessons, Ikea furniture building or a dance partner. Anyone able to teach German would really clean up – this seemed to be most in demand. Alas, nothing really grabbed my eye – but worth remembering next time I’m clearing out my closet.