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Taking the wrong lesson from Uber

The last few years, it’s become cliche for startups to describe themselves as “Uber for X”. With Uber as the north star, the mobile phone became the “remote control” for our life and anything we wanted — groceries, take-out, laundry, our car — was just a tap away. After all, Uber did that for taxis. Shouldn’t we do it for other stuff?

The challenge is that many took the wrong lesson from Uber. Yes, convenience is huge, but it was only part of the picture. The magic of Uber is that it used mobile to create a 10x better product than the incumbent (taxis), and did so at a lower price. The “and” is everything.

It took three years for Uber to execute this. Uber, as we all know, launched as an on-demand black car service. They nailed convenience from the beginning, but the service was a luxury. Then in July 2012, Uber took a cue from Lyft’s ride sharing service, and launched uberX. UberX was 10x better than taxis — but more expensive. It wasn’t until June 2013 that Uber did something important: it re-launched uberX in California with cheaper prices. The headline: “The New uberX: Better, Faster, and Cheaper than a Taxi” (emphasis added).

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better, faster, cheaper

native new yorker, SF-resident. general partner @benchmark. formerly product @Pinterest. originally blogging at www.adventurista.com.

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