Britt Miller

Britt Miller

  • Wonolo

Economy.jpgUnless you’ve been hanging out under a rock for the past 5 years, you’ve probably heard of Uber by now. You may have even used it. Or become addicted to it. If you are still waiving down cabs or live in South Korea and haven’t heard of Uber yet, it allows you to get where you’re going with a few taps on an app. No hailing in rain, no shady drivers, no tips, no “my credit card machine is broken” lies – simple and easy. It has thrown the taxi cab industry upside down. Because, technology made it possible.

And then after Uber and Lyft, something known as the “Uber for X” phenomena broke out. Factually, some of the companies existed before Uber did, but still, when you are $40B company after a few years, you become synonymous with the on-demand economy. Uber for X means you can easily – usually through an app – get something done for you on-demand. In this case, on-demand is defined less as an increment of time and more as “much faster than you previously could.” For example:

Uber for house cleaners: Homejoy

Uber for grocery shopping: Instacart

Uber for alcohol: Saucey

Uber for marijuana: Eaze

Uber for laundry after ordering Saucey or Eaze: Rinse (because, you know, you’ll probably make a mess…)

Each of these (even marijuana now that it is legal in three states) had an existing market that was inefficient and the “Uber” piece of these companies found a new way to make it efficient. Efficient doesn’t always mean cheaper though – but it does always mean faster and more convenient. In fact, oftentimes, you’ll pay for that speed and convenience in the consumer world. Inc magazine put out a nice infographic highlighting some of the companies and the funding going into the Uber for X space. Pretty amazing.

Even more amazing is if we think about how these Uber for X companies go the next step and open up white spaces or take over additional markets. For example – Uber is the faster better cheaper taxi / black car, but did you ever think a taxi could completely replace your need to own a car? Probably not. But if you live in a city and pay for parking when you only drive your car on the weekends, I bet you wondered if you could ditch your car permanently for Uber. These guys here did the math for you and it is kind of mind blowing. Same goes for jewelry. Rocksbox showed us a way to get your prom look down but did you ever think about just skipping out on stocking your closet at all and just getting the fancy accessories on-demand those certain times of the year you need them?

But if we look into the business space, the Uber for X market is still rather nascent. There are a few which are doing well:

Uber for short term retail space: Storefront

Uber for consulting: HourlyNerd

Uber for staffing: Wonolo

We are betting heavily on the B2B marketplaces for the simple reason that because businesses are less sexy with longer sales cycles, they are underserved and bigger potential markets benefiting more people than the peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces. Take housekeeping. You’ve got Homejoy and Handy and TaskRabbit and others going after the P2P market while Managed by Q is all alone taking on the B2B market which is less fragmented and more lucrative.

Where else could companies use on-demand services to improve their efficiencies and drive their top line? Anyone who has ever managed people probably had the same thought – staffing. People are unpredictable and the need for people even more so. But because there was never an easy, fast, convenient way to get people, we’ve all just dealt with what we have.

Big meeting coming up? Sure, you’ll have the entire Finance team helping with preparation – setting tables and chairs, making copies, blowing balloons. How much salary is wasted on that which could be spent towards delivering a great presentation to stakeholders?

Big promotion in store? Yep, why not get all the employees to go help out in retailers, stocking shelves and building displays? With the social media team out in Walmarts, who is going to be promoting the big promotion?

Big influx of orders? OK, everyone down to the warehouse to pack boxes and apply labels. High heels and open-toed shoes in a warehouse – doesn’t sound ideal. And now the customer service department is servicing boxes instead of phone calls.

You’ve done it. You’ve either ordered it or been a part of it. You knew it didn’t make a lot of sense but you had no other solution and you sold it through as a “morale booster.” What if you could open an app and get a few people to help with setup / tear down? Get someone to lend a hand in building the endcap? Or bring in 50 people to pick and pack orders for 4 hours? Think of where your own manpower could have been focused instead. Your room would have still looked great, but your presentation would have rocked. Your promotion would have still been beautiful, but you would have also had social media support around it. Your orders would still be shipped, and customer support calls would have been answered as well. The implications are obvious, but the solution was not. Until now.

Next time you have a job that needs to be done but you don’t have the (right) people to get it done, rather than going with what you’ve got, pull out your phone and try Uber for Staffing; Wonolo. Just like the rest of the Uber for X economy, it takes a minute to set up and even less to post a job. You’ll be the hero and for once, your finance team will thank you.