By Diana Zelikman from Fueled (New York’s leading mobile app development and once in a while they write blog entries for betahaus.)
As of now, the Sharing Economy ideal poses a number of legal questions surrounding government regulation that can’t be easily answered. We, at Fueled, thought we’d check out one business whose implicated itself below.
Coming on the market, fast and loud, with a peer to peer exchange of a constantly sought after asset, Airbnb is an online community network that quickly connects individuals with rental properties to those who are seeking a place to stay on a short-term, temporary basis. Whether customers are looking for a quiet getaway in the mountains of Colorado or need a cozy penthouse with a view deep into the ever busy hub of Manhattan, this mobile app based company provides a means to an end, in a notably inexpensive way. Those who have property to rent on a short-term basis are able to do so with ease by posting the property online, giving way to a money making connection that would otherwise have been unavailable.
Although this may seem like a beautifully simple way to connect needy consumers without the overreaching arm of big business types, cities across the nation are concerned with the regulatory side of this apartment-to-bed-and-breakfast concept. The biggest issue? Regulations that relate directly to the business of short-term rentals are being called into play, specifically in the state of New York. Recently a statewide subpoena was issued to cease business activities for thousands of rental properties within the state, noting that the use of Airbnb to rent out a property violates these broad regulations.
The “Illegal Hotel Law,” an antiquated piece of legislation, was updated in 2010 to vaguely outlaw the “business” of renting an apartment for fewer than 30 days if the apartment owner is not present. This, in turn, has created a frustrating situation for the state while it attempts to collect potential tax revenue as well as enforce safety and insurance regulations that are applicable normally to solely traditional hotels.
Both the State of New York, in this case, as well as the businesses that stand to lose a hefty portion of an otherwise solid market share - the booming (and outlandishly expensive) New York hotel industry - and are trying to save the changing dynamic of the hotel industry. Their reasoning is if large hotel chains are susceptible to government imposition through regulation, the same should be expected of Airbnb users since they provide similar services.
Without viable regulations that can be applied directly to practicing sharing economy businesses such as Airbnb, it is nearly impossible to impose the type of control the state of New York is seeking. The concept that competition within an industry is only possible between big players is beginning to waver and large corporations are scrambling to create roadblocks wherever they can. Many similar issues were present when e-commerce sites like eBay and Amazon launched, so it’s clear that government regulations and the laws are out of date to say the least. There is no clear answer, however, to the New York Airbnb issue yet. But with the popularity of the Sharing Economy coming in strong, something will need to be done in an effort to remedy the problems facing renters – both those providing the property and those utilizing them – and the breakdown of big business as the only option within the hotel industry.
In February betahausX released The Accessible Transportation Challenge - a partnership with Toyota Mobility Foundation for the BETAPITCH challenge in Berlin. Devoted to making Berlin a more accessible city, this edition of BETAPITCH gathered many startups working on great new transportation solutions.
In March, we announced a soon-to-be-open second location in Berlin in our favourite neighbourhood in the city. We took over the iconic Geyer Werke building in Neukölln and with the help of our architects from Kim Wang we turned the place into a four-floor coworking space. We shared with you some fun facts about the space before it’s opening and made a virtual map with our favourite businesses around the ‘haus.
In April, we celebrated a decade of coworking with our biggest party in the last few years - ''10 Years in beta''. For this one we transformed the coworking area in betahaus | Neukölln into a party venue. An art exhibition took over The Basement underneath and The Garden was filled with activities like acro yoga, mandala painting, and a collage workshop.
‘’One of my many favourite betahaus moments this year was when Christoph, Max and I stood nervously in the Garden to give a speech in front of all our friends and members at our 10th birthday party. We talked about our values, our future goals after this whirlwind of a change and our intention to make tech more human. There was just so much love and appreciation around us.’’ - Madeleine (Co-Founder, betahaus)
"My favourite betahaus moment of the year is the woman who was gently putting beef and minced meat around our 10 years party installation. Until this day, no one knows exactly who she was and if this was a part of the installation, but out of all the things we saw on the 10 years in beta, she stays my highlight.’’ - Maria (Graphic Designer, betahaus)
The 10 Years in beta party was also the official opening of betahaus | Neukölln. Spring was the perfect time for our new project to start growing. The Club Lounge started filling, amazing new teams joined the community such as LAUDO, Obst Digital, Wonderwerk, Trybe and The Zeitsprung Project. Our Gil became the Lord of the house, giving hugs to everybody, fixing all kinds of problems in the ‘haus and keeping it run smoothly with the rest of the Front Desk team. This was also the month when we launched our beloved weekly yoga classes guided by our dear Cynthia from Arrive Yoga.
" People matter! Community was always what we were all about. ‘’
In June we launched #PeopleInbeta - our monthly blog post series in which our Content Manager - Vihra interviewed teams and freelancers from the betahaus community to present the variety of creatives we have in ‘haus, to understand their missions and get some useful advice for our audience. We talked on topics such as sustainability (with PlanA) , decentralized digital identity (with JOLOCOM), curated music experiences (with Bespoke Sounds), freelance photography (with Sara Herrlander), full-stack development (with Obst Digital), design (with LAUDO) and much more.
In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ.
Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture.
Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails.
This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.
‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)
''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’ - Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus)
This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.
Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.
One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.
This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.
We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.
Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.