I recently wrote a post about collaborative consumption, a form of sharing anything from time, money, housing to skills that helps maximize the use of resources and reduce waste. There are many motivating factors to adopt such a model. One big reason is that it puts less pressure on the environment through less manufacturing; another is cost savings since second hand things are cheaper and another is that it is just good nature to share things, even with people you don’t know. RelayRides, based on America has a vision to revolutionize personal mobility “make carsharing a viable, common part of our system transportation will reduce reliance on personal car ownership, leading to fewer cars on the road and less driving.” I talked with Founder, Shelby Clark to find out how they will achieve this.

Like many great start-ups, RelayRides was started by a founder who experienced a problem themselves and wanted to solve it. The story goes something like this; Shelby Clark biked through a severe snow storm in Boston to try and reach the nearest car rental, but on his way, he realized there were so many idle private cars that could be available to borrow. RelayRides was born out of that epiphany a year and a half ago.

RelayRides is a platform for connecting people who need car to car owners who want to rent their car out for an hourly rate. This might sound like a strange concept, but it actually works. The cool part is after you have found the car you want, you won’t need the key; you will be able to use a smartphone to reserve, locate and unlock OnStar enabled cars in early 2012. Currently, adevice is installed into the car to control the card and the engine. The obvious concern is safety or someone stealing your car, but RelayRides has technology and insurance to minimize the risk of anything really bad happening.

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Jason Lim

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.