Announcing the Year of Share

The Year of Share Started with a Bang

The experience began as I entered the classically styled Victorian house in San Francisco; I was immediately taken with its friendly homelike feel. The table was magnificently set, appetizers were exquisitely prepared and arranged, the lighting was perfectly executed, and the bar was ready for festivities. The “Year of Share” had officially begun, 

Optimized-DSC_0180a yearlong project where we will be experiencing and reviewing some of the most relevant Sharing Economy services. While growing in size, with more companies and venture capital investment pouring in, the jury is still out about the impact the Sharing Economy has on consumers, the environment, and the overall economy. The questions being asked: Is this Sharing Economy movement positive? Or is it just a temporary trend that will fade away?

Throughout 2015, the Year of Share, we’ll review Sharing Economy services first hand, we’ll pay for the services, test them out, talk with other consumers who have used them, critics who have written about them, and publish our insights in this blog for everyone to judge. To add more objectivity to the process, we came up with a set of scores across multiple parameters that we deem important, including: Shareability, price/value, result/promise, environmental impact, social impact, privacy protection, regulation adherence, etc. We’ll summarize these scores into what we call the “Sharing Economy Index” (SEI).

Optimized-DSC_0201Sophie’s roommate &
sous chef for the night

For our first service we chose Feastly, a Sharing Economy marketplace that connects passionate cooks with adventurous eaters. Consumers who are attracted to Feastly are seeking a more authentic and social dining experience. They get this through Feastly, by being able to enjoy home cooked meals in their cook’s home. The value proposition of the company is that it lowers the barrier for cooks to share their skills with the world; cooks are able to monetize their passion and provide exciting new food experiences for consumers instead of going to a restaurant.

So here we go, our first review:

When planning Pley’s holiday party, we were considering the same old options, reserving: 1) a ballroom, 2) a private room in a restaurant, or 3) a hotel event room. All these options sounded stale to our creative team. The idea to try something new was exciting, but risky – what if it turned out to be an utter failure? With Pley’s spirit to push the envelope, we decided to go for it and roll the dice!

Our host created a special night for our late-in-the-season Holiday Party. It was January 10th and we were ready to celebrate. Celebrate our year; celebrate our victories; celebrate our team; celebrate the laughter and joy we bring to kids’ lives.


Hors d’oeuvres in the homelike atmosphere

Our host, Sophie Speer, was hard at work in the kitchen with her roommate (who is a lawyer by day and was our bartender and sous chef for the night). We had drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and then were seated for dinner. As we were enjoying our Brussels sprout salads, we began playing two truths, one lie. What was supposed to be an individual guessing game quickly turned into a group activity involving yelling across the table, laughing, and insights into our lives outside of work.


Cheers to an exciting 2015!

After the game, we enjoyed the main course: rosemary porcini-crusted trip tip with port wine reduction, herbed polenta, and roasted squash. Sophie our host, made an introduction to each dish in a lively way, which added additional flavor to the already flavorful meal. The long table in the dining room allowed everyone to continue spirited conversations while eating. Later, the plates were cleared and dessert began to arrive. The perfect ending to a perfect meal: Cheesecake Semifreddo with raspberries and chocolate ganache. Sophie told us we weren’t allowed to leave until all the chocolate was gone. Needless to say, we accepted the challenge.Optimized-IMG_7954

Our host chef serving and explaining the main course

It was 10 p.m. and the night was coming to an end. Sophie graciously thanked us for coming, and we thanked her for having us and providing such an incredible experience. We said our goodbyes, grabbed our coats, and headed out to a local bar.


Normal is overrated

The night was one to remember as it was full of laughter, getting to know each other’s significant others, and simply enjoying each other’s company. Feastly, like many Sharing Economy companies, is about the experience. The service allowed us to enjoy a great meal, while being in the comfort of a home instead of a crowded restaurant, and at a more affordable price.

It was the perfect way for our team, at Pley, to begin this new and exciting year. I would recommend Feastly to anyone.

Here is how we scored our experience using the Sharing Economy Index:

 Variable Measures Feastly
Shareability What is the sharing component of the service? Is it emphasizing experience/access vs. ownership? 3 The site claims to help aspiring cooks to “share their skills and stories with the world” but we challenge if this service fully epitomizes the nature of the Sharing Economy in which access trumpets ownership. You don’t “own” a meal in a restaurant, rather you rent an experience and the skill of the chef along with many other eaters that rent the same resource and share the cost for such a service. So the marginal benefit of having these resources shared in someone’s home are limited to the experience of meeting other people in a new setting
Convenience How easy is it to understand the service and book it? Is it mobile ready? App vs. Responsive? 3 It was very easy to get information and book the service on the site That said, there is no mobile app and currently the service is limited to handful of cities with many dinners still TBD (i.e. still requiring eaters requests to be initiated)
Price/Value What is the value of the service vs. alternatives 4 The meals range from $30-$75 which is medium-high price range for a typical restaurant. But when you add the experience component to the “Value” denominator we scored Feastly high, you’ll get a higher value for your $ eating a Feastly dinner than at your local restaurant. We were quoted between $6,950 – $5,976 to have our event in traditional locations and paid $4,132 for our evening at Feastly – savings of 30%. 
Promise/Result What do you get compared with what is promised? 5 We were promised a home cooked meal with ambiance and a personalized feel, and that’s exactly what we received. The chef and bartender were both very “real” people who we felt could easily join us, something that rarely happens in restaurants. 
Environmental Impact Is the service net positive to the environment? Are ecological resources saved? 3 The Feastly service seems to have a neutral environmental impact. The same food resources are used to cook one person’s meal and one might claim that restaurants are able to be more efficient in managing perishable goods.
Social Mission Does the company have a social mission and how strong is it? 2 Feastly’s mission is about social connection. Connecting foodies in a new way. At this point, the company doesn’t have a strong and proven social mission. 
User Privacy Does the company have a clear user privacy policy? Does it respect its users or take advantage of the information? 5 We actually read through Feastly privacy policy and found that it is strong and detailed. Chefs are protected with a $1,000,000 insurance for damages of guests’ property or bodily injury. 
Regulation Does the company challenge/break any existing regulation? 2 Feastly’s chefs operate in an unregulated environment, which might bring about challenges down the road. While restaurants get inspected by the FDA for cleanliness and need to get a license to pour alcohol, Feastly chefs are not. If the company grows, it might attract some regulatory fire.
SEI Score 3.3  (out of 5)

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