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Sharing Tribes, new website connects community

UA+professor+Anita+Bhappu+speaks+about+her+recently+launched+website%2C+Sharing+Tribes%2C+during+an+interview+in+her+office+on+Oct.+27.+Sharing+Tribes+was+founded+on+the+premise+of+creating+a+forum+where+people+in+a+community+can+trade+household+items.
Rebecca Marie Sasnett

UA professor Anita Bhappu speaks about her recently launched website, Sharing Tribes, during an interview in her office on Oct. 27. Sharing Tribes was founded on the premise of creating a forum where people in a community can trade household items.

Launched on Oct. 24, Sharing Tribes is a website founded by UA professor Anita Bhappu that markets a social networking platform for developing employee rapport and reducing unnecessary consumption.

The home page of Sharing Tribes states its goal is to bring “collaborative consumption to the workplace to build employee engagement.”

“Next year will be pretty much dedicated to getting it in the hands of some really different but important groups, you know, communities, to essentially work with it and work with us and see if it’s working right,” Bhappu said.

The product is structured to allow people within a community or workplace to easily trade, lend or borrow household goods or services while also building relationships with those people.

“The website [is] just our first coming out of the closet moment where we’ve essentially tried to put together an explanation of who we are, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Bhappu said, “and there are some screenshots of the product that’s currently being developed.”

David Sebastian, chief executive officer and co-founder of Sharing Tribes, said the product creates a retail-like opportunity for tribe members to share items they use rather than purchase them.

“It reduces consumption that is inherently unnecessary,” Sebastian said, “and that in turn creates both a healthier planet and wealthier people.”

Bhappu said the social aspect of the product will be beneficial to people in a workplace setting.

“Maybe you’d never meet them because you don’t have a water cooler to meet at,” Bhappu said. “It’s a platform for social networking on some level, for you to kind of authentically meet people in the workplace.”

The product will initially be marketed toward corporate organizations.

“It makes that community even more alive because you’re sharing with people that you may work with in the future,” she said, “but also that’s why the company should pay for it as a platform, because it helps them develop this thing called engagement that’s really tough to build in the workplace.”

Bhappu is on sabbatical this semester, and Sharing Tribes is her research piece.

“If you have this kind of tool, does it indeed make you a better consumer? That’s my research view,” she said. “A lot of science has gone into what we have designed.”

The name Sharing Tribes relates this product to the way people in tribes used to behave.

“It’s a practice we’ve all engaged in for millennia,” Bhappu said. “That’s how people survived in their tribes [by] sharing what they had. We don’t do that as much today, so a lot of the insights for the design of the product came from asking the people the question, ‘Well, why don’t you share? Why don’t you lend or borrow stuff from people you know?’ And when you look at the answers to that, those are all the things we’ve designed the technology to solve.”

Bhappu said the idea for the company came from teaching a UA Individuals and Societies course for the past four years.

“In that class, we’ve been discussing all these really cutting edge kinds of practices and companies we’re seeing out there in the space to help consumers be more sustainable, be more environmentally and financially responsible, but at the same time, live out what they need to as consumers,” Bhappu said.

Bhappu added that the product is completely designed. and they are now waiting for software developers to prepare it for beta testing. She estimates this will be around spring break in 2015.

“It’s sort of a replacement for the golf course but more sustainable,” Bhappu said.

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Follow Brandi Walker on Twitter.

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