By @SimonCocking

At MoneyConf Web Summit, Irish Tech News moderated a panel on the Sharing Economy, one of speakers was Alex Stephany @alexmstephany CEO of JustPark @JustPark backed by @IndexVentures and @BMW, author of THE BUSINESS OF SHARING, sharing economy expert. We’re delighted to review his latest book on the sharing economy and also ask him a few questions about it.

The book takes the reader on a useful survey of the newly expanding sharing economy. Giving a useful and clear outline of what is meant by the sharing economy and who are some of the key players in these emerging markets. Stephany also meets a number of the investors who have been backing these new emerging opportunities, including Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures, and Mark Suster from Upfront Ventures. In all of the encounters with these key investors and thought leaders, Stephany maintains a good sense of trying to look at both sides of the issues. With a keen awareness of trying to assess what is of real value and what is potentially just hype. He asks a lot of good questions, and writes in a readable and accessible way.

After reading the book we then chatted with Alex to dive a little deeper into some of the questions raised in the book.

In the book you visit Silicon Valley and the East coast to interview various thought leaders and investors. How did this shape and influence your thoughts and opinions – which were based on European based venture?

I’ve always followed the US VC scene closely online and I’ve made trips out to the Valley and NYC before.

Running JustPark definitely helped me get access to some massive cheeses: Alfred Lin, Fred Wilson and Jeff Jordan – perhaps the best 3 marketplace VCs in the world to discuss the sharing economy with. It’s very cool to have brought in their original content to the book

Sometimes there can be a slight over reliance on techno-solutionist fixes to many problems – did you encounter this while in the US?

The US is generally more free marketeer than the UK and self-assured when it comes to these kind of patches, but there’s not a noticeably different mindset among entrepreneurs in my experience. As I describe, we will (and should) have a 2nd wave of regulation in both regions.

Belfast EnterConf, you had a whistle stop visit, did any interesting contacts come out of your participation in the event / or any further insights from what the other speakers had to say?

I was in Belfast for 2 hours so none apart from you I’m afraid! Sorry, will have to spend a few days next time 🙂

Since you wrote the book, if you were doing a second edition is there anything you would rewrite or revise your opinion on? Is there anything you have drastically changed your mind on?

Actually no. I’d be worried if it had already become out of date.

How is Justpark getting on? Plans for next 12 months?

We’re getting on great thanks. The next 12 months will see us releasing some major new products that we believe will reinvent the way people find parking. Can’t say much more than that for now…

How is the relationship evolving with BMW?

Very well. They’re a key strategic partner with whom we shipped the world’s first app that lets you book parking using the actual car itself.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11018937/JustPark-app-helps-BMW-Mini-drivers-find-a-parking-space.html

What blogs / thought leaders do you follow for inspiration?

The blogs of Fred Wilson @fredwilson and Robin Klein @robinklein, our board member. 

Will you be writing another book / if so on what?

A comprehensive market analysis on the parking sector pitched at insomniacs.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I think it’s interesting to point out that this isn’t like the average business book. First, it’s a colourful fly on the wall tale. Second, it’s actually written by someone running a significant company in the space. Barely any books are written by active entrepreneurs and of those that claim to be a far smaller percentage actually are!

Alex Stephany headshot

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