TODAY

TODAY   |  April 05, 2013

Super sharers: Making a living by sharing

One of the biggest trends out there is sharing. People like Rob Gonzalez are making a living from renting out cars, clothes, rooms to vacationers, and even pets.

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>> now to today's consumer and a simple concept that is exploding into a multibillion-dollar a year industry. this is something you're going to want to know more about and something you'll probably want to be involved with. nbc's craig melvin is here to tell us about that. good morning.

>> good morning to you, matt lauer . you name it and these days you can swap it, borrow it, lend it. it's become so popular some people now make their living sharing things.

>> cheers, guys.

>> reporter: rob gonzalez, acting is his part-time passion but he makes his living as a full time sharer. this is the room that's paying your mortgage.

>> it is.

>> reporter: using the popular website he rents his apartment to strangers like this vacationing german couple. the one-time real estate agent uses skillshare to make another 700 bucks every week teaching a class called how to live rent free in new york city .

>> what would you spend your days doing? i share my home and i share my knowledge, but there's a lot of stuff i don't have so while i do share a lot, people also share with me.

>> reporter: when the 35-year-old needs a car, he uses relay rides to find someone nearby who rents theirs. it's not just cars and homes. need tools for do-it-yourself project, baby clothes for a special occasion , a personal loan, thinking about getting a dog even but would like to try it out first?

>> we can trade, swap, barter, rent, lend, share, et cetera , but doing so in a way that mimics what we've been doing throughout history but is relevant for today's facebook age.

>> reporter: a high tech twist on a kindergarten concept. person to person sharing has exploded into a $26 billion a year industry and it's growing. while millions are using mainly the internet to lend and borrow, jonas singer has another idea.

>> we're hoping to be system disrupters. we want to show people there are other ways of going about doing business .

>> reporter: singer and a partner bought a 7,200 square foot warehouse in washington, d.c., and recruited caterers to share base. 30 businesses have moved into union kitchen.

>> we have a gigantic walk-in fridge.

>> reporter: for $550 a month members get prep, storage space, access to utensils, appliances ovens and better deals on wholesale ingredients.

>> they're actually making more money and having a much more sustainable business .

>> reporter: the setup keeps costs down for her food truck business and also gets ideas and opportunities.

>> a cake lady will be doing an event, i need someone who does savory things.

>> reporter: it's becoming a unique way to make a living is also a way of life .

>> i take advantage of using the system as much as i can. they link humans together in a cool way, they benefit the earth and create value where value was sort of invisible before.

>> the industry is still new so there are some things being figured out like liability, how do you insure a car shared by several people and also taxes, how do you tax the services, are they a business, are they not. but again, $26 billion a year.

>> they'll have to figure it out. seems like the market