Timing, Speed & Opportunity: Read Chapter 3 (Nonstarters) Of The Upstarts

Recommend reading Chapter 3 (The Nonstarters) in this new book: The Upstarts

I came across this book at a local bookstore and was pacing back and forth the aisle reading this chapter — way too exciting!

It describes in vivid detail what preceded Uber and Airbnb — and how, in my opinion, for the founders to be exposed to the right forward-thinking investors turned out to be key, in addition to a lot of other things which came into place (product, market timing, tenacity and mental toughness of the team, etc). Also a lesson here to not be talking to your tangential competitors unless you have escape velocity!

In the case of Airbnb:
– Couchsurfing: Passionate founder who travelled the world and saw a need, built the site out in 2004 and a very passionate community along the way. Ran it as a non-profit, and pivoted too late to a for-profit model. Dinners with Airbnb founders at the time…fascinating read!

In the case of Uber:
- SeamlessWheels back in around 2003 was a matter of bad timing — without the advent of smartphones. 
- TaxiMagic — stubbornly refused to partner with investor Bill Gurley and boasted about not getting VC funding. It was in 25 cities in 2008. “on-demand cab service at the push of a button”. Sold to fleet owners. Poor customer experience.
- Cabulous — which launched their on-demand iPhone app for cabs 6 months before UberCab launched. Showing cars on a map — these folks pioneered it. Cab driver-centric and not approaching the problem from a customer point of view. Also — Uber starting running away rapidly. Cabulous raised a $1 million but according to the founder that was like “bringing a knife to a gun fight”. Turned down Bill Gurley due to prior personal commitment.
- Zimride

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