McSweeney’s recently published a satire ‘We’re The Uber of Organ Transplants’- based on recent pitches, this might happen one day.
Upon reviewing AngelList descriptions, over 30 companies actively pitch their concept as an ‘Uber for X’ company.
The most obvious statement in the world — is that Uber identified a real problem and created an amazing product that consumers need.
Many companies are targeting obscure ‘Uber for X’ ideas that have nothing to do with transportation.
My favorite ‘Uber for X’ pitch so far is very easily Tennis Buddy, which is Uber for tennis buddies.
Tennis Buddy promises ‘you can spontaneously find somebody to play with within minutes’ by clicking a button on your smart phone.
That almost sounds cooler than Andre Agassi in a Canon commercial.
The “Uber for X” recipe is pretty simple.
- Identify a service-based industry that feels archaic.
- Recruit suppliers in your given vertical.
- Create a mobile application with a big green request button.
But Which Services Should Be On-Demand?
It might seem like an obvious statement - but not every service makes sense as an ‘on demand’ business.
Sure, it’s pretty cool to think about clicking one button on your phone and having a professional masseuse arrive at your doorstep.
But does this concept make sense as a standalone company?
Cherry realized the challenges of ‘on demand’ car washes, which had loyal users and an interesting value proposition.
They built a seamless customer experience and a beautiful application - and the product worked fantastic.
But in the end, paying professional service providers hourly wages probably did not make economic sense for Cherry.
Kudos to the team at Cherry for testing the concept and realizing the company needed to change directions.
There is no shame in testing ‘on demand’ concepts — and Cherry managed to create a seamless experience that actually worked.
Uber is an inherently mobile concept.
You typically need rides when you are ‘on the go’ and might not have access to the web.
How many concepts does this actually work for? What do you really need ‘on demand’ in your daily life?
Food, love, shelter, and transportation are the most obvious human needs — and the Uber-esque companies that have shown traction usually fall into these categories.
If your ‘Uber for X’ concept is not imperative to human survival, you will probably have a tough time creating consistent demand.
Mobile vs. Web
Contrary to the ‘mobile first’ attitude that dominates Silicon Valley, the web can be a superior platform for service based industries.
The web is particularly useful during the ‘buying decision process’ when your potential customer is researching service providers.
Do you need to book a massage ‘on the go’ - or could you also do that from the web, where it’s typically easier to read reviews and research a group of potential providers?
You should consider this before declaring your company to be ‘Uber for X’ — and decide whether your product needs to be mobile-focused.
Identity vs. Anonymous
At Zaarly, we love telling the stories behind the talented artisans and service providers we discover.
We do not aspire to be an ‘Uber for X’ company — mostly because our marketplace does not have on-demand service providers.
When you hire a house cleaner like Dirty Donnie’s on Zaarly, you can read about their passions and reasons for starting their business.
By the time you hire someone on Zaarly, you hopefully feel like you know this person — they might even feel like your friend.
Some companies want to create an ‘Uber for house cleaners’ experience, which lets you hire a house cleaner with one-click on your phone.
These house cleaners have been vetted by the company — but you cannot research their backgrounds or choose who you want to hire.
When starting an ‘Uber for X’ company, make sure you identify whether you want your service providers to have real identities or if you want them be more anonymous.
Neither model is right or wrong — but it’s a decision you will have to make.
If you are interested in researching ‘Uber for X’ companies, I have started a very basic list below.
Please add to the list in the comments section - together we can build the world’s most prolific ‘Uber for X’ list! (that sounded better in my head)
I’ve only included companies that are truly ‘on demand’ - meaning you can order with one click and supply arrives within a guaranteed time.
To be clear, I support every company that aspires to make life more efficient - and I wish each of these companies the best of luck.