Startup Stories: Near Me – Build your own Peer-to-Peer Marketplace

Michelle Regner with fellow panelists Jeremiah Owyang of Crowd Companies, Stephane Kasriel of oDesk and Brian Bell of Zuora, Inc.

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of, a ‘platform as a service’ for brands and entrepreneurs to set up customizable peer-to-peer marketplaces for the collaborative economy. You can create the “Airbnb of X” in very little time and no coding experience needed.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
My last company had too much desk space and I met my now business partner who was looking for monthly desk rentals when he moved his company to San Francisco from Australia. We started DesksNear.Me to solve a problem we had already experienced from opposite sides of the spectrum.

People from all sectors of society and business want to share and collaborate and have been since the times of bartering. So, my co-founder, Adam Broadway, and I created DesksNear.Me to connect mobile workers with available desk spaces all over the world for an hour, day, week or month.

Through DesksNear.Me, our flagship product, we saw the need for connecting, specifically work spaces, with the people who needed them and those who had empty desks–whether they were traditional offices or open work spaces. Within about two months of developing the site, we saw sharing come alive in front of us. It was so exciting! The sharing economy was on the rise as more and more people were sharing, swapping and renting from one another (think Airbnb or Uber). We knew others would want to create a marketplace but heard from many that the barrier to entry was their ability to develop the code, hosting, and Go-To-Market strategy. So we thought, ‘Hmm, maybe there’s something we can do about this,’ and started building Near-Me as the bedrock for other sharing/renting/subscription services.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
Near Me gives entrepreneurs and global brands the tools to build a full service peer-to-peer marketplace in just a couple of days. We are reducing development time from months and even years to just days to build your marketplace. As a result this is saving time and a significant amount of money for any business. From analytics and international payments to customer support and peer-to-peer trust, we provide our clients with what they need to create a successful marketplace.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been hiring and building the right team. I believe you’re only as good as the leaders you have beside you. Entrepreneurs have a tendency to want to hire and grow quickly to fill gaps and work harder and faster. I started to realize that making the wrong hire quickly can be a setback over filling a position. Choosing the right leaders or managers can be the biggest influence on others in the company so this is a critical decision. The creativeness and openness that we have built within our company are traits that we want to be infectious among our team. I want people to know that their opinion and voice matters here. To overcome this now I take my time hiring slowly. In fact, many people know this very well about me.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
Project Eve has helped shape some of our female team leaders. Your business content has inspired and motivated our young women to be proactive and never give up.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
Consumers are changing their habits and you don’t want to miss out on the way consumers are buying. The sharing economy could tip entire industries upside down and businesses need to begin to adjust their models to accommodate that. People are getting what they need from each other–cars, loans, clothes, rides, and more. They’re getting almost every part of their lifestyle from each other. You can live your entire life consuming from peers, so what does that mean for companies and brands? One shared car can meet the needs of 10 people. That’s 9 cars that were not sold and carsharing is only one vertical. Companies need to realize instead of fighting the sharing economy they are better off taking advantage of the shift.

Company: Near Me


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