Hans Schmidt.

SideCar Driver Hans Schmidt has given more than 350 rides. (SideCar / July 15, 2013)

It’s no longer just nice to share.

Just ask Hans Schmidt.

Whenever the 30-year-old South Loop resident is headed to the grocery store, library or a friend’s house, he takes out his smartphone and opens his SideCar app.

Instantly, he’s making money. On the clock in the middle of his daily routine.

He receives ride requests from hundreds of Chicagoans. He sees where they are and where they want to go. He’ll pick up a passenger along his route, chat for a few minutes, drop them off and receive payment in 24 hours.

“It really is as easy as that,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt is one of many Chicagoans finding creative ways to make a quick buck by hiring out their personal belongings and underused assets.

Schmidt is a driver for SideCar, a San Francisco-based startup that came to Chicago in March. He went through interviews, a background check, insurance checks and a ride-along to get approved.

Since becoming a driver in April, Schmidt has given 350 rides and uses the extra income to pay off student loans.

“Sometimes I even pay extra on my loans instead of just the minimum, which is great. I never expected to be able to do that,” said Schmidt, who is awaiting admission into a medical residency program. “Every dollar, especially in this economy, helps.”

Schmidt is part of the burgeoning “sharing economy,” sometimes called “collaborative consumption.”

It’s a trend that’s turning millions of people into part-time entrepreneurs. The sharing economy operates on the principle that access to a good trumps ownership. The idea is digging the hole is more important than owning the shovel.

“We are hoping to create a world where car ownership will be optional in cities like Chicago," said Lisa Frame, SideCar’s Chicago city manager.

Shannon O’Brien doesn’t own a car.

Yet the 29-year-old works a hectic job as a freelance make-up artist, spending her days bouncing from downtown hotels for bridals parties and homes of private clients for special events.

While O’Brien said SideCar is usually cheaper than cab fare--saying she spends an average of $12 on a SideCar ride from her Humboldt Park home to the South Loop--she enjoys the community aspect of her involvement in the sharing economy most.

“My job is so much about traveling and running around, for that to be a little bit more enjoyable for me is huge,” she said. “You feel good about getting a ride from SideCar. You meet all these great people. I have so much faith in my drivers. It’s almost like getting a ride from a friend. And if you can hire a friend for a job, why wouldn’t you? ”

It’s certainly easy enough to hire a “friend” in Chicago thanks to a slew of new start-ups.

You can rent a dusty couch to a stranger on CouchSurfing. Share your shovel on SnapGoods. Act as a one-man taxi service with SideCar. Turn your driveway into your personal parking meter on Parkatmyhouse. You can even borrow a $40 bottle of Chanel nail polish through a Netflix-like service called Lacquerous.