Airpnp: The ‘Uber’ for toilets

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Johannesburg - Finding a bathroom to do your business - there’s an app for that.

Makers of an Apple iOS application called Airpnp are ‘streaming’ ahead with their service which has a unique spin on the shared economy.

Demand for shared economy services, such as internet car company Uber and accommodation finder Airbnb, have spurred on a multi-billion dollar industry.

And founders of Airpnp saw an opportunity to help residences and businesses rent out their bathrooms to complete strangers who need to use them. Bathrooms have been rented out from $1 upwards for a pee.

The service even gives toilet users a chance to “rate their pee experience afterwards” so that “others can see how each restroom stacks up”.

“When there aren't enough bathrooms nearby for the amount of people in any given location Airpnp is there to save the day,” reads the Airpnp website.

The ‘entrepeeneurs’ behind the service - ‘PEO’ Max Gaudin and ‘PTO’ Brian Berlin - say their idea for Airpnp was born out of of experiencing “the pain point of having no place to legally urinate” during the Mardi Gras in the US city of New Orleans.

“This problem is often solved by using what is known as a ‘rogue pee’. If caught the person faces a weekend in Orleans Parish Prison. Yet this stiff penalty doesn’t stop thousands upon thousands of ‘rogue pees’,” according to the Airpnp website.

Airpnp, though, is no joke.

The service claims that within the first three weeks of operating in 2014, 300 bathrooms were added to its map.

Shared economy

Internet ride-sharing service Uber partners with drivers and car owners to provide transport services in 54 countries across the globe.

Meanwhile, online accommodation company Airbnb operates in over 190 countries and allows homeowners to rent out rooms or their entire living spaces to travellers and holidaymakers.

Uber has been valued at $40bn while Airbnb is said to be worth $13bn.

However, while the shared economy has opened new business opportunities, it doesn’t come without risks.

From Cape Town to Canada, Uber has had run-ins with taxi regulators while Airbnb has been labelled as being possibly illegal in cities such as New York and Dubai.

Nevertheless, this is not stopping the shared economy's march forward as Uber cars in Cape Town, for example, continue to operate despite not having the required metered taxi licences.

And the global shared economy is also expected to boom in coming years, according to researchers from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

PwC has broken down the shared economy into five main sectors: peer-to-peer finance, online staffing, peer-to-peer accommodation, car sharing and music and video streaming.

“Today, we estimate that the five main sharing economy sectors generate $15bn in global revenues, making up just 5% of total revenue generated by the ten sectors we looked at,” said PwC in a research note.

“However, by 2025, these same five sharing economy sectors could generate over half of overall sales in the ten sectors – a potential revenue opportunity worth $335bn,” say the researchers.

The future estimated value of the shared economy. (PwC)

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