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business models, strategies and technologies

Uber for people who want to start Uber

Does the business opportunity lie in the delivery or the capability?

Once upon a time, the best new business ideas had to be (well, preferably) radically innovative, groundbreaking zingers that’d have clients and customers queuing up to sign over their money. Business innovation is/was pretty much all about the search for the gruesomely elusive Holy Grail of the next “big idea”, the path to startup stardom and billionaire nirvana.

Not so long ago, the endlessly-trotted-out corporate poster children of such “big idea” business were the AGA trio of Apple, Google and Amazon. In a later iteration, their places were usurped by disruptive wizards like Airbnb, Tesla and Uber. The reputations of these are already getting seriously ragged around the edges, so “the next big thing” will probably be along soon, and is probably barrelling along the development and roll out turnpike as we speak.

From “the next big thing” to capabilities for everyone

Once a big new idea has triumphed, the inevitable “what next?” question soon crops up. One of the key learning points in the disruptive development universe is that it’s often not necessary to develop and deliver “the next big thing” in order to achieve considerable commercial ka-ching.

In the world of digital business, there’s often big potential for new strata of solutions to provide lots of people/companies with generic, off-the-shelf capabilities similar the current game-changer – supplying a platform for implementing the core idea, but without the specific configuration. A.k.a. white label apps, and suchlike.

Uber capabilities without being Uber

One example is TaxiStartup, which provides Uber capabilities for people who want to start a company that can do lots of things like Uber but without actually being Uber or copying the specific Uber implementation. Or incurring all the first-mover burdens, costs and risks …

TaxiStartup enables people to start their own ride-sharing network in just about any configuration or context – providing pretty much any service, whether by car, plane, boat, bike or motorbike. It helps automate dispatch systems, booking apps and all the other functionalities round which Uber floats, as well as providing APIs into which companies can plug a wide range of services, capabilities and configurations.

As a result, TaxiStartup helps make the whole Uber concept a flexible, seamless add-on to other business models, becoming a capability rather than a high-profile core product.

Eco-systems and add-ons

This idea’s pretty obvious, really, so it ain’t no surprise that Uber itself also treads a similar path. At Uber Developers, Uber Technologies Inc. provides a whole eco-system that explores and exploits the power of the Uber API, under the deliciously evocative “Build Moving Experiences” tag line.

Here there are things like UberRUSH – an on-demand delivery network powered by Uber that lets a company and its customer track the exact location of any delivery from any device. Any developer or business can now use the UberRUSH API or other similar tools to access Uber’s logistics platform – so why bother trying to reinvent the wheel yourself?

Other “big ideas” like Amazon, LEGO and IKEA feature similar eco-systems that support and co-create a substantial range of business services and brand-loyalty-boosting communities.

This kind of off-the-shelf digital scalability is also one of the key features of the digital revolution. Which it’s a whole easier to get on board with if you don’t have to discover, develop and distribute the “next big idea” first. Things like a global logistics capability (think Amazon, ÙPS/DHL and Uber) are quite simply a prerequisite for loads of next-generation business models, and it’s kinda’ amazing that these capabilities are now so easily available for mere pennies – relatively speaking.

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