Startups are a dime a dozen. It seems like everyone is running or working at one these days. So, what’s the secret to going from just another startup to a really big #*$&ing deal?
Start by taking a page from the Uber handbook.
Uber is a free iPhone app that helps you score a ride by connecting passengers with drivers of luxury vehicles for hire, at a premium price. The San Francisco venture-backed startup first launched in May 2010 and was born as a result of the desire for style, comfort, and convenience when commuting. Initially presented as a “timeshare for limousines” – the company has gone global and now has over $50 million in backing.
It’s Solving a Very Real Problem
The inspiration for Uber came from the very thing plaguing most San Franciscans – a taxi problem. Anyone who’s ever taken a cab can relate. Long wait times or unavailability during peak hours are just a few of the problems. Don’t even bother trying to hail a cab in rainy weather. And the drivers? The reality is, most taxi drivers will fall somewhere between safe driver and stunt driver. It’s simply a matter of hoping for the best and bracing yourself for the worst.
With Uber, you can easily get a driver from your smartphone. While there is always the option of booking a car service for transportation, most times this must be done in advance and certainly isn’t an option when you’re traveling on the fly. With Uber, you can open up the app and see a map of your location as well as nearby vehicles available for hire, estimate time of arrival, and you have the option to pay with your phone.
People Want Premium
A few weeks back, I talked about Medium and how one of the keys to their success was the exclusivity they offer. People want to be a part of something cool. Uber gets that. They also understand that people want to look and feel cool. Which is why they didn’t just launch a car service with vehicles already everywhere on the road – they went the luxurious route. And they knew people would pay for luxury.
Here’s the thing about freemium and premium price models – while there are some people who will always (no exceptions) take the freemium, there are a lot of people who would rather pay for a premium. Pay for luxury and a sense of exclusivity. Uber knows this, which is why it’s doubling its revenue every four months.
Convenience is Key
Productivity is a hot buzzword right now and it’s no wonder. Anyone living the startup life knows the importance of time management. Time is not a luxury most founders or their team have. With all the buzz about productivity – what about convenience? After all, the things that are most convenient are ultimately buying us back time. In Uber’s case, prompt service trumps lost time waiting for a taxi. People want reliability and Uber can offer this.
Startups that make your life easier are thriving because they recognize that convenience is key. Take Hello Flo, whose first video saw over five million views in the first week. A tampon subscription service (and not the first to come along), these guys (or very smart gal I should say) know that every woman needs her monthly products. Why not make it easier and more efficient to get them?
Feedback is Crucial
One of the great things about Uber is that they recognize feedback is paramount. They also acknowledge that feedback should never be a one-way street. As important as it is to hear what the customer has to say – they want to know about their driver’s experience too. Think about how many taxi or limo drivers are regularly crapped on by customers; their only defense is to drive off, (maybe) screech their tires, and hope they never have to see their face again.
Uber is dedicated to ensuring the customer is happy and the driver is equally happy. If the driver fails to offer a quality experience to the user, they’re deactivated and will no longer be shown as available to users. On the flipside, Uber drivers can rate you. Hard to please passengers with low ratings from drivers may face a harder time getting a ride. Clarity.fm shares a similar feedback structure. Not only do those using the service to get great advice provide a review, the experts dishing the advice can as well, ensuring quality experiences every time.
Resistance is Futile
Much like the title of Christine Lagorio’s Inc. piece “Resistance is Futile” on Uber and CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber’s success stems from their ability to overcome challenges. The company are regularly facing complaints from other taxi and limousine services and have had to deal with public backlash due to price surging during Superstorm Sandy. They’ve proven under even the most trying obstacles that they’re resilient.
The reality that 90% of startups will fail is a harsh one. In order to succeed, founders need to be ready for the ups and the downs. Tenacity is a character trait worth having. Another great example of a startup that’s faced its share of similar legal roadblocks and customer complaints but continues to thrive is AirBNB. In fact, it’s been said AirBNB could be the next eBay and Uber could be the next Amazon.
Does your startup have what it takes to be a Big #*S&ing Deal? Tell us why in the comments below!