DAVID GREENE, HOST:
OK, let's think about some of the apps and websites that are really popular these days. People who need a place to say use Airbnb, and they share a person's home. People who need a ride might use Uber, and they share space in someone else's car. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley recently visited a company in the Netherlands that allows people to share things like power drills and bicycle pumps.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: It isn't surprising that the idea for the borrowing platform Peerby originated in one of the world's most densely populated countries, the Netherlands. At the Amsterdam headquarters of Peerby, which stands for peer to peer nearby, founder Daan Weddepohl says he had the idea for the start-up after his house burned down and he had to borrow everything. At first, he says, he felt dependent but then realized people generally like helping each other because it creates a bond.
DAAN WEDDEPOHL: People are social animals. We like to help each other out. Borrowing things is probably one of the oldest behaviors in nature. And we are just making it easier through technology. So we created a platform that makes it easy for people to find that neighbor that's willing to lend what they need.
BEARDSLEY: Peerby hooks up 100,000 borrowers and lenders a month in the Netherlands. The company is also active throughout Belgium and in Berlin and London. Amsterdam native Cindy Bakum is a regular user.
CINDY BAKUM: Last time I had a friend over, and we were watching a movie on his laptop, but he forgot his adaptor. And my adaptor didn't fit. So I put out a request. It was actually my neighbor. He really lived on my block. And he had an adapter, so we could finish washing the movie. So that worked very well.
BEARDSLEY: The sharing economy is booming. Some estimates put the peer to peer rental market in the billions. Herman Kienhuis's firm Sanoma Ventures is an investor in Peerby
HERMAN KIENHUIS: We see that more and more consumers start to realize that access to stuff is actually cheaper, more convenient and greener than ownership.
BEARDSLEY: Access over ownership may be gaining fashion, says venture capitalist Guillaume Lautour. But to really change people's habits, a company has to have scale. Lautour says there are other borrowing sites and size will make the difference between profitability and failure.
GUILLAUME LAUTOUR: It's the kind of service where you need enough liquidity to be really efficient. You need hundreds of thousands of things to lend or borrow.
BEARDSLEY: Lautour points to the success of eBay, which he says works because it is global, not local. Peerby will launch in 50 U.S. cities in 2015, where it hopes to build scale and become a household name in borrowing. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News.
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