Uber has garnered a lot of attention in recent days and weeks leading up to their IPO. While the market will ultimately gauge their success as a publicly traded company, their journey from startup to ‘unicorn’ and ultimately an IPO is remarkable. You can check out their story on their webpage.
The significance of Uber isn’t in any invention they created. After all, they didn’t create the cell phone. They certainly didn’t create the taxicab. However, what they created was a platform through combining existing technologies and available resources to solve a common problem. Prior to Uber, people had to stand around on city streets looking for a taxi. That gleeful moment when you finally s
aw a cab was quickly followed up by the anxiety of determining if the cab was even available. Everyone simply accepted that hailing a cab was a huge pain in the ass.
Uber took that roller coaster of emotion away from us and put it in the palm of our hand. Now we simply make a few clicks, a couple swipes and wait for a car to be found. Once a car in the area is found we are given an arrival timeline and ability to track it as it approaches our location. They even gave us the power to judge the driver should the heat be too high, the smell of the interior off putting or if the driver too chatty. Uber holds us accountable by allowing their drivers to rate us as customers. How many cabbies wished to have that function over the years?
The brilliance in the model is that Uber didn’t have to come up with an algorithm like Google. They didn’t have to wait for a PC to adorn every desktop like Microsoft. They took existing technologies like GPS enabled cell phones and paired them with an excess capacity of people’s time and vehicles. Uber doesn’t own the car, they don’t sell the cell phone, they simply connect people with time and vehicles with those who don’t. And make money from it. (Supposedly.)
What other opportunities exist just below the surface that connect existing resources to solve problems people didn’t even realize they had? Obviously, the list could be quite endless or short depending on your creativity and frame of reference at any given time. One I like to focus on is the degree of difficulty builders and subcontractors have when sourcing materials. The process is inefficient, archaic and cumbersome. Most people don’t know any different because they’ve never been exposed to an alternative. LBM is in the business of developing those alternatives and creating efficiencies for builders and subs so they can quit riding the roller coast of material supply and focus on building!