The idea for Share Some Sugar
, an online borrowing web site, came to Keara Schwartz when she moved from her Over-The-Rhine apartment to a house in Hyde Park. After becoming a homeowner, Schwartz realized she needed a lot more "stuff," but she didn't want to buy things that she'd only use occasionally, like power tools or a snow blower or a ladder.
"There was so much stuff I need for a house. Every time I'd buy another tool, I'd think, 'There has to be someone in my neighborhood who has this,'" said Schwartz, a graphic design manager.
Share Some Sugar launched late last year in the Cincinnati area. It's organically expanded to several major cities across the country. Outside Cincinnati, the largest groups of users come from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Portland, OR.
"Word of mouth has been my best friend!" Schwartz said.
The free service has three main components. Users can offer an item to share, look for an item by neighborhood or zip code, or discuss neighborhood issues like block party plans or safety issues.
Users sign up for the service by creating a profile which allows them to list, look for items or have discussions. Thousands of items have been listed on the site including sprinklers, wheelbarrows, a carpet steamer, GPS, power tools and strollers. Many of the items are offered for free, some have a small rental fee.
For those skittish about borrowing or lending items to people they don't know, Share Some Sugar added a social network component.
"Members can now create their own sharing groups and invite their friends, neighbors, coworkers either directly through Facebook or with their email addresses. This enables members to share just within their social circles, with people that they already know and trust," Schwartz said.
Schwartz operates the site herself but has worked with an intern to promote the site. She has also brought on a CTO to help with digital strategy and execution.
Share Some Sugar has gotten some widespread attention and awards since it launched. It's been featured in The New York Times, ABC News, BoingBoing, NBC News, and as you'd expect, many blogs. The site also won the Cooney, Faulkner & Stevens Get Started Award, worth $2,500 in the 2010 Cincinnati Innovates
The site will also be featured in an upcoming book 'The Mesh; Why the Future of Business is Sharing.'
Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Keara Schwartz, Founder of Share Some Sugar
You can follow Feoshia on twitter @feoshiawrites