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Bike-share company puts new spin on peer-to-peer rentals

Your bike may be in the garage collecting dust, but now you can make money off it
Peddling pedaling: Bikes become the latest peer-to-peer success story 04:24

There are an estimated 100 million bicycle owners in the U.S.

If you're one of them, it may be parked in a garage collecting dust, but you can make money on that bike when you're not using it, CBS News' David Begnaud reports.

Inside a tiny studio apartment in southern California, at least six employees maintain a website and a mobile app for a global bike-sharing company called Spinlister.

In 90 seconds or less, anyone can list their bike on through the app or website, set a rental price and select accessories to include with the rental.

Spinlister's cheapest rental is in Palo Alto, California, for $1 a day. A four-person family bike in San Francisco is the most expensive daily rental at $400.

Worldwide, there are 15,000 people who use the site to rent bikes.

Brazilian-born Marcelo Loureiro is the company's CEO.

He said the company doesn't have enough bikes available to keep up with growing demand.

"We have listers that made already $1,500," Loureiro said, "... $1,500 a year because the average rental price is $20 a day."

The company has listings all over the world.

"All over the world, from South America to Asia, people are listing bikes everywhere; we never expect that," Loureiro said.

James Silber has pedaled himself a nice profit, listing his bikes on Spinlister in Santa Monica, California.

"I make about two to three hundred dollars a month sometimes," he said.

Loureiro said: "The weirdest, the most interesting bike listed that I had so far was in Omsk, in Siberia ... I emailed the guy to say, 'How is biking in Siberia?' He said, 'Oh, it's not that great.'"

Spinlister launched in Brooklyn in 2012. Today, Brooklyn is the company leader. Splinlister rents more bikes there than any other place in world.

In Austin, Texas, Julia Castillo wanted to teach her 4-year-old grandson Lucas how to ride a bike.

She searched bike shops but couldn't find one his size, so she shifted gears and used Spinlister, locating a 14-inch bike that was just the right fit.

Twelve-year-old Kari Gutmann is a go-getter. The Orgeon entrepreneur made $250 last summer renting her bike on Spinlister using her parents' account.

And in San Francisco, Cole Mcllwarith's specialized bike was stolen right before his Ironman triathlon.

So he used Spinlister to find the right replacement that allowed him to compete.

The company is part of a growing business concept known as peer-to-peer sharing. UCLA Anderson economics professor Al Osborne said it's a trend that's here to stay.

"As an economist, the whole notion of bringing into production idle capacity is a good thing for society because it creates value," Osbore said. "I can get value by using the asset, but I don't need to own it, so the whole notion of ownership, I think, is going to be rethought as we go forward."

"It's way more than just a rental; you're renting from someone else, so you respect way more their gear, their bike, and also you feel grateful for him allowing you to use his bike, for a small fee," Loureiro said.

That peer-to-peer concept has Spinlister doing financial wheelies.

"We grew like 400 percent last year; we are projecting 800 percent this year," Loureiro said.

Spinlister now offers users the chance to list surfing and snow skiing equipment. But bikes are Loureiro's focus, so much so during our interview, he took a few seconds to approve a few new bike listings.

"As soon as I approve, the bikes are live on the system; they are ready to be rented," he said.

It's a personal touch from a CEO who is enjoying the ride.

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