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Business & Economy

The sharing economy has 'sidekick' businesses




EverCar founder Michael Brylawski stands next to one of the Nissan Leafs available through the service. Cars can be rented specifically to drive for an Uber or Lyft shift through EverCar.
EverCar founder Michael Brylawski stands next to one of the Nissan Leafs available through the service. Cars can be rented specifically to drive for an Uber or Lyft shift through EverCar.
Leo Duran/KPCC

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Want to drive for Uber or Lyft but don't have a car? No problem!

The sharing economy is spawning several businesses to help people be a driver, an AirBnb host or more.

"It's kind of like we're a sidekick," says Neel Parek, the founder of MaidThis! Cleaning Service based in Orange County. "We're one of the beneficiaries of the sharing economy."

MaidThis! directly markets itself to helping Airbnb hosts with cleanup and turnover of their homes.

It originally started out as a service strictly for normal residential cleaning, but Parek says he kept getting calls from Airbnb hosts.

"It was kind of like an a-ha moment for me. I kept turning down these people, saying it's not what we do," he says. "After trying it out, it turns out the volume is significantly higher that what we get in regular residential cleaning."

For people who want to drive for Uber or Lyft, there's EverCar which sprang up in Marina Del Ray.

"If you don't have access to a new car or if you have a leased car that doesn't have unlimited miles, you're shut out," says EverCar founder Michael Brylawski.

The company offers all-electric or hybrid cars to rent on an hourly basis.

"They are configured for rideshare, so the placards that you need to go on Uber or Lyft are there," he says. It even comes with a dash-mounted holster for a smartphone and, for passengers who drank too much at the bar, sickness bags.

What started out as one lot expanded into 11 lots within the past year.

It's not the first to offer this kind of service, either.

Another SoCal creation is HyreCar. That service connects wannabe drivers with car owners who have a spare vehicle going unused.

The driver comes by to pick up the car to use for an Uber or Lyft shift, and they both win: the driver has a nice car and the owner gets paid for loaning theirs out.

Uber has even launched into a months-old partnership with Enterprise to rent out vehicles for periods of time to drive for the service.

These smaller companies aren't benefitting without some worry, however. Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and others are facing tough regulations where they spring up.

Los Angeles, for example, had been considering one measure to fingerprint Uber and Lyft drivers. Meanwhile another would enact tough new rules for Airbnb hosts

"It's been a bit scary in a way," says Parek of MaidThis!, "because of legalities."

If large services decide to leave an area rather than face restrictions and oversight, then these smaller companies could go down with them.

But like small pilot fish that form a mutual relationship with big sharks, companies like EverCar and MaidThis! could stand to benefit if they stick around.

"Most of the businesses might be like little fish swimming around the shark," says sharing economy expert Arun Sundarajan from New York University, "but I think there are going to be a few big winners in this space as well."