Why sell (or buy) when you can rent?

petrental.jpgNetworks, and the ability for people to buy or rent have disrupted many old businesses, and given rise to new business models. Netflix was the epitome of this, taking on the Blockbuster‘s of this world. They had to respond with Netflix-like Blockbuster Online.

But the rental model is blossoming in many unexpected areas beyond furniture, art, office plants and cars.

The weirdest is called FlexPetz if you want to rent, not own a Vet-whetted, obedience-trained pet starting at $49.99 a month (plus an annual maintenance fee). It’s a sort of a time-share model for pets, says Business 2.0.

Time shares of course were the classic rental business, more specifically fractional rental. Riffing on that model is FlexCar, a way to rent a car for a fraction of the day. You sign up online, pay your fees, and receive a magnetic key in the mail. Then when you want a car you reserve one online, or on the phone, and pick it up at one of the locations. One neat features is you don’t pay for gas; the cars are refueled (by the renters.) How so? There is a gas card in the car that can be used at Arco, Costco etc.

To serve a completely different need, there’s BookSwim that works like NetFlix.

And it gets more creative, with a handbag and jewelery rental site, perfectly named BagBorrowSteal.

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