Few are those companies who blow you away and make you wonder how a business can be so cool and so awesome. We have Apple, Facebook and Tesla, and then we had Uber come along. The only difference is: Uber is getting more and more mind-blowing by the day!
I wouldn’t call Uber your usual suspect. Many would think they know what the startup is all about and how it operates, but very few actually know the blueprints to the bigger picture. Uber is for sure not only a private chauffeur entity. In fact, it is a logistics company, and its stunt with ice cream delivery, flower delivery and helicopters on demand is an example of how you can do whatever you want once you have the right application for it – and once enough people are using it.
The story of Uber takes us back to 2008 when the co-founders then, still friends and not aware they’ll be at the head of one of the most successful startups up to date, were attending LeWeb conference in Paris. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, like old pals, were complaining about the many crappy things we all have to deal with in life, including finding a cab when we’re packed with luggage under the rain and no taxi seems to pass by. It seemed like The Eiffel Tower or Paris’ finest restaurants werent enough to distract them from a brilliant idea trapped under the grey clouds, because next thing you know, these two “uber” kids were already brainstorming, thinking about ways to solve this global issue of finding cars at the right place, on the right time. Though by now only two things were certain: the solution had to be mobile, fast and the rides had to picked up from Jay Leno’s personal garage.
Garrett took the lead and went on playing around with a couple of ideas, prototyping several solutions and engineering a mobile app for the iPhone that would revolutionize the very ide of getting around. It didn’t take long before Travis joined the ride to work with him on what would later be known as, Uber. Fast forward to January 2010 and Uber was already rolling a couple of black cars in the city of New York to simply test the service out. With just a few cars and even fewer people knowing about the startup at the time, Uber proved to be a hit. Soon after San Francisco joined in to host Uber, and the rest, the rest is history.
Today Uber is one of the leading transportation services in the world, starting out with a Series A funding of $11.5 Million. Once you thought it really couldn’t get any better for them, they went on to snatching an additional $32 million in 2nd round funding before landing, brace yourselves, a mega $1.2 billion in their final round of funding. There is only one word for this; Crazy! The company today is valued at $17 Billion give or take and is a once in a lifetime success story that really only comes around once every decade. What makes Uber the ultimate startup is its culture of business, a culture quite reflective of what Generation-Y stands for: We want to be doing big things all while coming across as cool, chic and innovative. I mean take a look at their “transportation vehicles”, we´re talking about German monsters such as the BMW 7 Series or the Audi A8. People love affluence, and maybe we can’t all be millionaires, but if we’re given the choice to have a piece of the cake, then why not. Why not roll out in a Mercedes S class once in a while? Why not feel like royalty for a weekend? Life is already too full of crap to deal with; people unhappy with their jobs, with their relationships and with their governments. Amidst all this buhu BS, Uber shines as a beacon of light that wants to make our days a little brighter. We don’t have to put up with life, with Uber, you can be ahead of it. If waking up at the thought of your day at work being as depressing as the day before it, well the thought of riding in an exclusive tinted luxury car and spoiling yourself may make things easier.
Uber is now spreading happy faces all across the world, but also getting a ton of heat from old fashioned transportation services who think their cab fares are a holy commandment no one should ever question. See, the beauty of tech-based startups is that they are disruptive by nature, they allow us to do things better, faster and cheaper, things which makes a lot of old “givens” obsolete. Taxi unions have been going from strike to strike in France and the UK against Uber, claiming that the startups’ usage of a geolocalisation based app to calculate fares and request a ride poses an unfair advantage. Well, tough luck, you either adapt or die, and that’s been the law of nature for millenniums now.
In the UAE Uber have been shaking things up and giving people something to look forward to. In order to gain the minds and hearts of the wealthy young and old generations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Uber went from promotion to promotion, giving away a week worth of Uber free rides or a day of free rides with UberX. When we spoke to one of the local Uber PR and Marketing individuals, we were told that Uber doesn’t spend money on paid advertisement. Their best advertisement strategy is word of mouth, happy customers going around and telling their friends, family or even crush on how amazing their last ride was.
Many see Uber as the next $100 Billion company, and from what we experienced, that’s not a far fetched assumption. Uber will be delivering your ice cream, your valentine roses, your pizza on demand and even your pack of gum. As long as you have the app on your phone, anything is deliverable, so long as it’s legit! But again, don’t be surprised if your dealer suddenly tells you about the UberPot, nothing is impossible!
Picture Credit: Greatpreneurs