How Prefer could replace the “Uber for X” startups

Scott Belsky has just announced his new startup, Prefer, which offers recommendations from friends for personal services such as babysitting, massages, and personal trainers.

I think this is a great idea, and will hopefully replace the “Uber for X” that many entrepreneurs have tried to cram down the throat of investors and users alike the last few years. For the services listed above where trust is paramount (e.g. the price of a babysitter is irrelevant if you would not feel comfortable leaving them with your kids), then having a personal referral from a friend is a great way to do this, and as the blog post says, much better than a bunch of anonymous ratings.

A while ago I listed out how Uber was the ultimate “Uber for X” listing four criteria to judge whether an Uber like model would work:

  1. How commoditised is the service?
  2. Can customers and service providers work around your service?
  3. How urgent is the problem?
  4. How frequently is the service used?

I still stand by the analysis, and it seems like Prefer could replace the Uber clones where it isn’t a natural home — e.g. massages, personal trainers, and even cleaners. Few of these Uber clones have really been a hit, most likely because the service was not a natural home for the category, and it sounds like Prefer will treat them with more respect anyway, so I hope it succeeds and scales (and comes to the UK!).

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