Posts Tagged ‘disruptive tech’

Shareable.net
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 2, 2014

Technoport 2014: Lauren Anderson on the game-changing power of collaborative consumption

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Lauren Anderson, Community Director at the pioneering shared economy organisation Collaborative Consumption.

1. How would you explain “collaborative consumption”?

We describe collaborative consumption as the reinvention of old market behaviours such as bartering, lending, swapping, trading and exchanging – but this time they’ve been reinvented for the Facebook age! Social, mobile and location-based technologies are enabling us to share and exchange all kinds of assets now – from physical stuff to less tangible things like time, skills and space – on a scale and in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even 10 years ago.

2. How is collaborative consumption disrupting existing models of doing business?

We are already seeing collaborative consumption disrupting established 100-year-old industries such as car manufacturing, hospitality and even banking by putting the power in the hands of the people. These new technologies are not only more efficient and often more affordable, but they also provide more authentic and personal experiences over mass-produced and standardised, which is something people are hungry for these days. Having said this, there are many ways that existing companies can, and should, get involved in understanding how this consumer shift might affect them, and what they can do to maintain relevance and build brand loyalty with these new consumers.

3. What are some examples of different types of businesses that are leading this movement?

In our directory of examples we have documented more than 1000 examples of collaborative consumption globally, and have found examples in more than 100 countries. But while there are many small local marketplaces in this space, there are also some bigger global companies who operate across a number of continents.

Airbnb, the p2p accommodation marketplace, is arguably the biggest collaborative consumption platform in the world, behind sites like eBay. TaskRabbit and similar task marketplace platforms have been hugely successful. Carsharing and bikesharing platforms are up and running in hundreds of cities around the world, transforming the ideas of mobility. And for a local start-up, EasyBring is a collaborative distribution service, or ‘crowdshipping’, tapping into a network of deliverers who can send packages for others.

4. Cities are also getting involved – tell us a bit more about that.

Cities look after a lot of the regulation at a local level, and in many cases collaborative consumption companies are not adequately dealt with in the current legislation, causing a lot of uncertainty and fear. Other than that, there are many ways cities can adopt collaborative consumption-based models to supply services to residents and also build a culture of empowered citizens rather than a passive community. We expect to see many cities following the likes of Seoul in South Korea, and Portland, Oregon, to really make Shareable Cities part of their mandate.

5. What role can collaborative consumption play in overcoming global challenges such as climate change?

As an example, most collaborative consumption platforms are focused on maximising the ‘idling’ or underused capacity of the things around us – ensuring that the things we own are used to their full potential. Other platforms are dedicated to the redistribution of stuff from where it’s not wanted to somewhere it’s needed, extending the lifecycle of products otherwise headed to landfill. And perhaps most importantly, collaborative consumption encourages people to consider whether they really need to buy something new, or if there are other ways they could access it, which might involve connecting with other people in the community.

6. Where do you see collaborative consumption going in the future?

In the future, we definitely see that there will be much more involvement from existing organisations, as well as local and even federal governments, as collaborative consumption becomes a much bigger part of the consumer ecosystem. We will start to see the most successful models of collaborative consumption being scaled and replicated around the world, and local economies will be strengthened through these new ideas. Ultimately we believe that we will be able to reduce our reliance on the consumer machine, and that we will be able to restore the balance of community and contribution that we are missing today.

Want to hear more?

Lauren will feature at our Troublemakers event at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we showcase stories of some of the individuals behind disruptive companies. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Shareable.net

Wozniak NTNU
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesMarch 17, 2014

Steve Wozniak in Trondheim

Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, came to Trondheim on Friday to speak at StartIT, an event run by Start NTNU and Spark NTNU to encourage budding IT entrepreneurs.

A gifted engineer and a charismatic speaker, Wozniak entertained the auditorium of 500 students with anecdotes about Apple’s beginnings and advice for new inventors. Here are some of his choicest stories.

On the origins of Apple

Before Wozniak took the stage the organisers played the famous 1984 commercial, setting the tone for a trip down memory lane. According to Wozniak, he and Steve Jobs started working together “for fun – not doing it thinking we’re going to have a company, a job”. They were part of a group of people talking about social revolution, he elaborated: “I never did it for the money… it was something I was good at creating and something I thought could help other people – I really wanted to be part of a revolution”.

Beyond that, though, his sheer enthusiasm for his inventions was clear in every sentence. “Once you have a computer it’s a platform,” Wozniak told the crowd.  “I had a goal of someday owning my own computer – then all of a sudden it was apparent I could build that computer”.

In particular he talked about the Apple II. It would be a computer you could use straight from the box, and it would be in colour. “They only used black and white televisions for arcade games in those days… and I was thinking about colour TVs – how they use a nice wave at exactly the right speed – and then the idea popped into my head of using 1s and 0s at the right speed and the computer would think it was colour”.

“We were bringing colour to the world,” he concluded.

The Apple II, launched 1977.

On Steve Jobs

When Wozniak talked, the years rolled away and you could imagine being back in California in this moment of intense innovation and excitement. You could imagine Steve Jobs would walk out on stage any second.

In Wozniak’s story, Jobs and he made the perfect team: “Steve was the entrepreneur, I was just the designer – I understood the market really well, because the market was one person, me. He didn’t know the cost to build but he knew what people wanted and which engineers were able to achieve the impossible”.

Jobs persuaded Wozniak to go further and achieve more: “to design a game that young, game-loving people would like would be the highlight of my life – and Steve said you’ve got to do it in 4 days.” Wozniak explained that this was in the days of hardware, not software, but – “I didn’t question him. We had four days and nights with no sleep – both of us caught mononucleosis, but we delivered it to Atari!”

Advice for IT entrepreneurs

For all the fun of hearing about the past, what really grabbed to audience was when Steve Wozniak turned to the future – to the innovators and entrepreneurs in the room.

“When we started the company we were like all of you… we were young, we had no money, and we had no business experience,” Wozniak began. But “if you want to do new outstanding different things, they don’t have to have value at first – look at Apple…If we didn’t make a profit it didn’t matter, we would have a company that we cared about.”

“What really matters is when something’s in your own head, nothing can stop you,” Wozniak continued. “You do as much as you can with the few resources you have…We bought our computer parts on credit, so you have 30 days to pay for them! We built the computers in 10 days, and got paid cash.”

Steve Wozniak quoted the advice of their angel investor and second CEO Mike Markkula: “we’re going to be a market-driven company, because the greatest companies like IBM were market-driven, not engineering driven.”

To “all these people come out of business school”, Wozniak had this to say: “Please, find the engineering students. All these people who like to create, original problem-solvers…the engineers will be able to give you ideas you never thought of.”

And with that engineering foundation, “build a working model that somebody can play with and interact with – because you’ll be able to convince a lot more people it’ll be fun to use.”

When asked if the students in the audience should pursue a business or finish school, Wozniak laughed and said: “If you have a chance to start a company with a few friends, do it, you can always go back to school! On the other hand, if you can do it while you’re at school…”

Looking forwards

When Steve Wozniak finished speaking all 500 students rose to their feet – a tribute to the man and to the legacy that continues to shape our world.

Earlier in his talk Wozniak threw out the idea that “Steve Jobs would say the computer age is gone”. Hard drives are increasingly located elsewhere – devices like iPads are more like displays.

Technology has come so far from the invention of floppy disks and colour screens in the 1970s – what will the future bring?

Want to hear more?

What is the future of technology and innovation – and what role will Norway play? At Technoport 2014 we will explore topics like this through keynote speeches, hands-on workshops and live crowdfunding. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: Start NTNU and oldcomputers.net

Multiple car households
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 3, 2014

Do you really need two cars?

Second in our series on sustainable driving is the growing trend of car collectives.

A recent study suggests car use across America is declining.

At the same time, membership in car-sharing schemes is on the up:

Global growth in car sharing

Global growth of car-sharing. Graphic by EMBARQ.

Car collectives provide a membership-based system of access to private vehicles, only when members need them, thus rendering the purchase of a car unnecessary. It began as an idealist notion but has rapidly evolved into a thriving global industry, albeit one with a long journey still to take.

Car sharing in Trondheim

There’s a car collective right here in Trondheim, so I headed down to their Sandgata office to meet the Director, Leif Tore Anderssen. Of most interest for me was discovering the biggest market for Trondheim Bilkollektiv isn’t those without a car, it’s actually multi-car families.

“People living in inner cities don’t need two cars. It’s expensive for them. Many of our members join specifically so they can sell one of their own cars”, says Anderssen.

The popularity of car sharing is growing in Trondheim. The number of available cars has increased from 10 to 50 in the last five years, located at 16 strategic locations in the city centre and suburbs. Membership in the collective now standing at a record 700.

That’s less than half of one percent of the city’s population, but this looks set to increase. The collective is targeting local businesses to join up, and talking to the owners of new residential developments about partnerships. The impressive new Grilstad Marina is a perfect example, a development of 800 brand new homes that will soon host a couple of the collective’s cars.

Interestingly, electric cars are not yet part of the car collective strategy in Trondheim.

“In the future we could have more in the collective, but for now we think until a greater percentage of our members understand how to use them and the infrastructure for charging them develops. Perhaps people could own an electric car, then use our cars for longer trips”, says Anderssen.

Because they require a critical mass of members to be economically viable, car collectives only tend to be found in urban centres. Elsewhere in Norway, schemes exist in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Tromsø.

So, over to you.

Does your family really need two cars?

Photo credit: Michael Greene

Bitcoins in Norway
60David Nikel

David NikelDecember 31, 2013

Will Bitcoin Sink or Swim in 2014?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ll have heard of Bitcoin, the digital currency taking the world by storm.

I can’t think of a more disruptive technology in my lifetime – one that’s been discussed at the highest levels of US government, banned by some countries, shortlisted as “word of the year” by both Oxford and Collins, and sent politicians heads’ deep into the sand.

So what does 2014 hold for Bitcoin? I have no idea, but I’m willing to bet the next 12 months will prove decisive for the digital currency’s future.

First up, what exactly is Bitcoin? It’s the name of both the peer-to-peer payment network and the currency itself. According to Wikipedia:

“When paying with Bitcoin, no exchange of digital notes or tokens takes place between buyer and seller. Instead, the buyer requests an update to a public transaction log, the blockchain. This master list of all transactions shows who owns what bitcoins currently and in the past and is maintained by a decentralized network that verifies and timestamps payments. The operators of this network, known as “miners”, are rewarded with transaction fees and newly minted bit coins.”

In a world where digital payment systems such as PayPal became mainstream far quicker than I had expected, it seems logical that a digital currency would be the next step. So, what’s the problem?

The entire system is controlled by an algorithm, not by a Central Bank, and therefore out of control of any Government. A truly international currency presents problems for taxation, regulation, and a whole host of other factors that have Governments all over the world scratching around for a solution.

Bitcoins in Scandinavia

Bitcoins are not just a plaything of the tech savvy crowd in Palo Alto, London and Berlin. Take a look at some of the biggest news from the last few months here in Scandinavia:

  • Stockholm welcomed its first Bitcoin ATM.
  • Oslo resident Kristoffer Koch invested 150 NOK in Bitcoins back in 2009, only to forget about them. It’s unclear exactly how much they’re now worth, but he bought an apartment in Tøyen with just one-fifth of his investment.
  • The Norwegian Tax Office took the interesting step of classifying Bitcoin as an asset, just a few months after economic powerhouses Germany and France leaned towards currency.

Klaus Bugge Lund, CEO of the Norwegian bitcoin exchange Justcoin AS, says:

“I am mostly fascinated by the underlying payment system that Bitcoin provides. The idea of a decentralized network to confirm transactions is appealing since it is not as vulnerable to political interference. Bitcoin as a currency is at the time subject to extreme speculation leading to a volatility making it unsuited as a currency. Once the infrastructure has been set up properly and the price growth stabilize we will hopefully see Bitcoin succeed both as a payment system and as a currency.”

“Half a year ago we would have to explain what Bitcoin was to most people we met. Today everyone has at least heard of Bitcoin. Although many people are still skeptical to the concept we think that the awareness itself is valuable for Bitcoin. The potential impact digital currencies has to our financial environment as we know it today makes people obligated to refrain from Bitcoin. If Bitcoin really does change money, it will not be the first time a disrupting concept meets resistance before eventually succeeding.”

The future of Bitcoin

Will Bitcoin thrive and force Governments to adapt, or will it go the way of Napster – a trailblazing disruptive technology that failed, but ultimately paved the way for Spotify, Netflix, et al.

What do you think?

Photo credit: Antana