We at b2cloud play a fundamental role for businesses looking to build successful digital products. We often hear passionate product owners, experienced CEO’s and founders articulate their vision to us saying…
“I want to build the next Uber for….. nursing, logistics, doctors, parcel delivery…etc”
By that they mean they want a disruptive business model, driven by mobile, with a seamless experience and global reach.
I understand the intent. Uber has many attributes that can easily describe a product vision that you would want to emulate and disrupt your market. However, the red flag for me is that aspiring to be the Uber for X, can indicate the business has trouble articulating its value and strategy in taking on the incumbent players.
The Uber story is an interesting one to study. It started as UberCab, and from the beginning they had a clearly articulated vision – to be everyone’s private driver, to be a transportation networking mobile app that connects people who need a ride with drivers looking to earn money driving their car. They focussed on solving a customer problem in a single city, sharing their value to both drivers and passengers. They weren’t competing with Taxi’s, instead they fulfilled an underserviced need, using technology to give people what they want, when they want it.
I remember in 2013 standing at the taxi line at a hotel in Union Square, running late for dinner, with the bellman desperately trying to find me a taxi during evening peak hour. Another guest walked past and suggested I download Uber, saying that a limousine will arrive in less than 2 minutes to pick me up. Uber brilliantly tapped into an under-utilised and opaque workforce to get me from A to B, starting small in one pilot city, with only limousines.
Over the years the Uber value proposition has scaled, pivoted, adapted and expanded as it’s moved from an idea to a worldwide phenomenon, changing the logistical fabric of cities around the world.
There are many elements of Uber that make up what at face value is an app:
- Strong design discipline that spans service design to user experience
- Building a 2 sided marketplace
- An agile development community of hundreds of engineers
- Complex algorithms that real time match supply and demand
- Lobbying government to change policies
- Star based rating system to improve service quality
- Advertising platform to engage brands in joint interest promotions
The list goes on. I would argue however, that a truly disruptive business model incorporates the above and much more. The business or product should operate very differently from its incumbents. So differently in fact, that the competition doesn’t even realise it exists, and therefore doesn’t have time to respond. A disruptive model first plays on the edges and doesn’t initially compete head on.
So, if you find yourself attaching the name of a Silicon Valley unicorn to your value proposition, spend some time to better define what makes you great and unique. And please get in touch with the b2cloud team who specialise in transforming ideas into successful digital products.