News & Views

Ellie Gummer

Bringing the UK Sharing Economy to Silicon Valley

Graeme Rigsby, Co Founder & CEO of HiyaCar.

Most startup founders know there are big weeks and then there are bigger weeks. Next week is one of our biggest yet for HiyaCar, and for me personally. I’m heading to San Francisco along with some of the giants of the sharing economy for the Sharing Economy UK Tech Mission.

HiyaCar, despite its extremely young life (we’ve been trading one month), has been asked to feature at the event alongside some of the UK’s most exciting contributions to sharing - I’m flying out with six other sharing economy companies from the UK, including LoveHomeSwap, Liftshare, GrubClub and Hassle.

Yet that contribution is still fairly small in comparison to the US. That’s why I’m so excited to be making the trip - we’re heading to the home of the sharing economy and to where I got so much of the inspiration for HiyaCar.

I look at how rapidly and successfully the sharing economy has grown in the US, and it inspires me to help the UK do the same. And we’re getting to be some serious sharers! The numbers behind the success of sharing economies speak for themselves.

As a whole, the global sharing scene is growing and growing. On average, there are 500,000 Airbnb stays per night, from over 50,000,000 users. Since June 2012, there have been over 20,000,000 Uber journeys in London alone. And due to the growing global impact of sharing economies, 87% of us in the UK see 'the gig economy' taking over from the 9-5 working day within a decade.

Globally, the sharing economy is growing faster than Facebook, Yahoo and Google combined. And the UK is at the centre of this in Europe, with London as the capital of sharing economies this side of the Atlantic.

And the next step is having the UK brewing the next big player in sharing. I don’t see any obstacles to the UK scene growing as fast as it has in the US. And bit by bit, we’re overcoming any hurdles that do get in the way. For HiyaCar (for those who don’t know, we’re a platform that allows you to share your car), we’ve already taken down one of them by tackling the biggest roadblock – insurance. The insurance industry is pretty old school, so we’ve done a major thing by working with them to insure shared HiyaCars and drivers. This means other companies will follow suit, opening the doors for the growth of sharing in the UK.

And it’s not just a fad.

The beauty of the sharing economy is that it’s sustainable. We’re paving the way for the future. A future where sharing cars, houses, even pets is the norm.

Hopefully this trip will prove to be the turning point for the UK sharing economy. I’m excited about what we at HiyaCar, and others like us, can do for people in Britain.

Brushing shoulders with the team behind Airbnb and Lyft just doesn’t seem real at this point. I wasn’t sure HiyaCar would even be selected, since we only recently started trading. But we’re obviously doing something right.