Disruption is about experiences. Not tech.
There are a lot of things that make me catch Ubers over Taxis. Most of the time, they all boil down to the terrible experiences that accompany waiting on a street corner attempting to catch the attention of a cab. Let me give you some examples. These are the last 3 times I tried taking a Taxi.
- An Australian indigenous woman was trying to hail a cab. They drove right past her and came to me instead. When I asked one driver why, he said it was because “you can’t trust them” – I refused to ride with him. When I complained to his company about the racism of their contractor they stated they “weren’t responsible for the actions of individual drivers.”
- The next time I tried taking a Taxi, the driver refused to drop me at my location, stating it would take him too long – he instead forced me out of his Taxi 20 minutes before my destination, causing me to walk in the rain. And get soaked through.
- The last time – my girlfriend was in heels, we had a 15 minute walk ahead of us, and we jumped in a Taxi. The driver said the fare was too small and we could have just walked if we weren’t so lazy.
These experiences were not only appalling, but quite typical of Sydney Taxis. Even when the experience isn’t revolting, drivers will demand that you pull open an app on your phone and direct them. There are a few good eggs out there – but they’re let down by the bad, the drivers that are rude and the trips that are frankly appalling.
When we think about disruptive businesses, we focus on the way they change and shift the processes and systems that we’re used to. It’s all about how businesses disrupt, and often the technology that allows it.
But you’ll find most of the Taxi companies who have tried to respond to Uber have done so by releasing their own app, falsely believing that the reason people choose the service is because they can use it via their phone.
You’ll find that these apps fail. Every time. They fail because they completely miss the point. They fail because Taxi companies see themselves as being disrupted by an app. The truth is, they’re being disrupted by an experience.
They’re being disrupted by a service provider who has found a way to make the experience of catching a ride better than theirs. They don’t understand this, and it’s what is driving them out of business.
For any other startup, this is a crucial lesson. You have to look at the technology you develop in the right way. It’s not enough of a differentiation on its own, and being able to use an app or a new piece of tech isn’t going to make people choose you over another option.
Disruption is all about creating a better experience. This is the case in every instance. Canva is disruptive not because it’s cheaper, cloud based or drag and drop. It’s because it provides its users with simple experience that lets them design something beautiful.
Slack is disruptive because it’s fucking fun to use.
If you’re working on something that you see as being disruptive, you have to make sure that you’re disrupting the previous experience, and doing it well. It’s not always about being shinier — it’s about how it makes your users feel.
Jon Westenberg has appeared and published in Business Insider, Inc.com, TIME and dozens of other publications, talking about startup entrepreneurship, writing and innovation. Jon has helped hundreds of businesses worldwide grow their audience and take control of their future. Jon is an investor, an entrepreneur and a digital publisher. He is the founder of Creatomic, a globally recognized communications firm.