How this company got so successful and what you can learn from it
There are many startups launched everyday. Some remain in startup mode for a long time, some spike quickly and die even faster and some find a niche and remain small yet profitable. There are very few companies that redefine the rules of the game and enjoy explosive growth. One such company I have watched over the years is Uber.
I was first introduced to Uber about 2 years back when I moved to Seattle. I wanted to experience the happening downtown life so I ditched my car for an amazing apartment right in the heart of downtown Seattle next to the landmark Pike place market. As I started exploring the city more, I needed a reliable mode of transportation – parking was too expensive, buses were good but not very frequent.
My friend sent me a coupon for a free ride using this new app called Uber. She also talked about how seamless it was to use it. One day, I was walking to a restaurant a few blocks away and I thought to myself, ‘why not try it out?’. Since then I have never looked back.
The main reason I enjoyed living in downtown Seattle for 2 years without the hassle of owning a car was Uber. I have used it anywhere from going grocery shopping to getting back home after a late night out.
I have also talked to various Uber drivers during my multiple commutes and almost all of them said they love the flexible hours, opportunity to meet new people and most importantly earn decent money in the process.
As I was thinking about Uber’s journey from a startup to a multi-billion dollar company, I started asking myself – What was Uber’s secret to this amazing growth? What was the company doing right? While it does have competitors like Sidecar and Lyft, it is only fair to say they are trailing far behind.
Here are some amazing techniques that contributed to Uber’s unprecedented growth and this is what we can all learn from it (and apply it in many aspects of our lives)
Stay hungry, Stay relentless – there is always more to achieve
From initiatives like #Uberpuppybowl (a campaign that let users order puppies on demand for 15 minutes for $30) to Uber’s integration with Spotify (this let’s you play the music of your choosing in your Uber ride) to the rumored merchant delivery program (that would let drivers deliver packages when they are not picking up passengers), the company is always looking to get a larger market share by launching new campaigns
Provide the right incentives. Provide value to all the key stakeholders
- Great incentives for riders – free first ride, earn free rides for sharing with friends
- Seamless experience, reliable app with great features
- Incentives for the driver includes flexible work hours and decent pay
- Additionally Uber pays drivers based on distance driven and traffic volume. This encourages drivers to pick the fastest route to the rider’s destination and pick a fuel efficient car like Toyota Prius (the car of choice for most Uber drivers) hence promoting green practices.
Understand differences across markets/audience:
- A great example of this is Uber’s expansion to India – a country where credit cards are not as ubiquitous as in the US. Uber lets users pay by cash. This opens the service to a lot more people
- Uber recently announced that it will let high profile guests hail a helicopter at the 2015 Cannes festival!
Think problems not scenarios: Uber looked to solve a problem- there are people who need temporary car services without the hassle of owning a car and those who are willing to provide it in exchange for cash. It addressed the core problem instead of thinking scenario specific solutions. Today this solution is applied to various scenarios like everyday work commute, grocery shopping, getting home safe after a drunk night, rides to attendees of a conference and so on.
Reliable and predictable : The app tells you exactly how long your cab is going to take and if you add your destination, it will tell you the cost approximate.
Additionally the cab drivers are rated by other riders – this instills a confidence when you see a 5 star driver assigned to you. Bottom line for you – promise only what you can deliver and deliver on your promise.
Convenience – One tap and you have hailed a cab. No need to explain where you are or ask how long it would take for the cab driver to get there. And Lastly Never stop innovating and thinking outside the box
- Bottom line: Leverage all possible ways for the customers to find you. Make it easy for the customer to use your services.
Keep your eyes open and be aware of the trends going on around you. This is evident from Uber’s investment in self driving car technology, one day delivery services among others
And Lastly NEVER stop innovating and thinking outside the box
Don’t get me wrong, it is not all rosy without issues. Uber has challenges today and in the foreseeable future. From an Uber driver raping a young passenger in India to another Uber driver charged with murder in Manhattan, its problems (like its opportunities) are global. But that is life! We don’t stop living because we are facing challenges. We think logically, find solutions/alternatives, work hard, hope for the best and tackle our problems head on (like we absolutely should! 🙂 )!