In a previous post, I wrote about how smart locks enable a permissions layer for the home.

One of the key issues is trust - specifically - why should I allow complete strangers to come into my house while I’m not there. I suggested following the Uber / Lyft model by creating a trusted group of service providers. I think there’s better approaches.

Uber, Lyft and other service-based marketplaces are made of drivers and riders. Outside of a post-ride rating system, riders and drivers are separate communities and don’t interact. Riders don’t know who is coming to pick them up until minutes before, and vice versa for drivers. For a short interaction like a car-ride, this is just fine. The trust expectation is simply to get me from A to B safely. The trust expectation for a home service provider is much higher - there is more at risk when you let someone in your house while you’re not there.

In Uber’s marketplace, the supply side of the market (drivers) can grow independently of the demand (riders). Put another way - a driver doesn’t need a rider to join the network. What if the demand side of the market (home owners) had to explicitly invite every member of the supply side (service providers)?

This means contractors, nannies, cleaners could only join the marketplace through an invite from a homeowner. So, when a new homeowner joins the service, they start by invite all the service providers they trust. Over time, home owners will build a network of service providers where trust is implied, instead of relying on a rating system. This is reflective of how things work today.

In this model, the marketplace grows organically - it may be slower, but the connections would be more meaningful. I’m not sure if such a model exists in other marketplaces, but if it does - it would be very interesting to see how it’s worked out.