Ever wonder what it’s like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?
No, not your neighbor Ted. He wears Crocs.
Talking about moonlighting for a week as a world-renowned war photographer. An Olympic medalist. A professional drift racer.
Welcome to ShelfLife, a just-launched Airbnb of exotic lifestyles.
ShelfLife is a bold startup that’s leveraging an untapped part of the sharing economy: people with awesome jobs willing to give ‘em up for a few days. The immersive nature of it all also vaguely reminds us of David Fincher’s The Game, but let’s stay positive here.
“The idea came while I was working as VP of Biz Dev for a Med-tech firm, doing some sales meetings at hospitals,” CEO/founder Trent Carlisle tells us. “I got mistaken for a doctor while I was walking through an ER and, because of my training and background, was able to offer a little bit of assistance while they were short-handed.” (Yes, when things got real, he stepped aside.)
ShelfLife offers you access to eccentric, awesome, dangerous and otherwise “glamorous” lifestyles for up to a week, from a war photographer in the Middle East, to a pro drift racer in Japan, to working as a dominatrix in Berlin.
You can also rent your own life out, but “editor at a web publication” isn’t gonna get a lot of hits. Trust me.
Some of these positions are pretty straightforward: surf travel guide, yacht broker, fashion designer. Others? Well, playing a former Olympic medalist who tours North Korea might require some extra vetting. And becoming the temporary State Finance Minister in Belarus may leave you feeling a little too inspired upon your return (as in, “Hey, I know another country that might be better served by a random guy who takes the job on a whim for a week.”)
Some of the more “advanced” lifestyle rentals on ShelfLife require pre-existing skills or experiences, as well as a minimum level of personal and third-party insurance (available through the site). As well, some of the more dangerous gigs — like Conflict Photographer — act like more of an internship, with the trained professional on hand throughout your temporary stay.
Besides the novelty, there are some real learning opportunities here. "The Expat Wife life rental in Singapore is fascinating,” says Shanti Ravinantham, ShelfLife’s Head of Development. “We've had plenty of interest from younger women who want to 'test drive' the whole 'married with kids' lifestyle before they decide if it's something they want to pursue for themselves. Sounds crazy, but it's actually pretty logical. Why wouldn't you try before you buy with something that important?"
Can’t argue with that. But if you need us, we’ll be bankrupting Belarus.
(More info on ShelfLIfe and other like-minded start-ups can be found in this upcoming book.)