What began in 2009 as a luxury car service in San Francisco is now valued at $3.76 billion and operates in more than 35 cities worldwide. Uber’s revenue is up 18% month over month, and in the past year alone they’ve grown from just 75 employees to more than 300. Uber is taking over.
In the past, when you needed to get somewhere, hailing a cab was a nightmare. You either stood outside—wind, rain, sleet, snow, or shine—waving your hand in the air until you could hail a cab, or you called a taxi dispatch (if you had their number) and had to wait 20 minutes until a car arrived.
Once you arrived at your destination, you fumbled to count out the right amount of cash plus a tip, negotiate with the driver who never had the right change, or who “forgot” to start their meter, or whose credit card machine was “broken”.
Very few people viewed finding and using taxi service as something enjoyable—it was simply something that they dealt with due to the lack of an alternative. Before Uber you were beholden to an entrenched, monopolistic entity, whose lack of regard for the customer experience was evident at every touch point.
Uber is completely changing the way getting private transportation is done in several key ways. First, their smartphone app is integrated with Google maps so that you can see how far away the nearest cars are, set a meeting point on the screen, and hail a car to meet you there. You can even see your driver’s information (including ratings) as you watch the car get closer to your location.
Uber drivers call or text to confirm that they’re on the way, giving you peace of mind that your order was received. Once your car arrives, the driver greets you by name and you hop in. Once you arrive at your destination, the app charges your card, and you’re free to go on about your day. There’s no need to deal with cash, change, tips, or receipts.
First and foremost Uber provides a solution to a real problem that impacts millions of people. In all sense of the word they have disrupted the monopoly of taxi cab transportation that exists in many cities and reinvented the experience from top to bottom.
Uber is tackling: poor cab infrastructure in some cities, poor service and fulfillment–including dirty cabs, poor customer experience, late cars, drivers unwilling to accept credit cards, and more. Uber set out to reimagine the entire experience to make it seamless and enjoyable across the board. They tackled the whole experience from mobile hailing, seamless payments, better cars, to no tips and driver ratings.
By avoiding the trap of smaller thinking, and iterating on one element of the taxi experience they were able to create a wow experience that has totally redefined what it means to use a car service. It’s improves the quality of life of many people by making the ride highly enjoyable. Uber fits the current zeitgeist very well. Self regulations by taking over control.