A Guide to the On Demand World
A comprehensive guide on how to best work with all the great on demand companies
The world is changing. No longer do you have to sit in line and wait for hours to get what you want. No longer do you have to take countless trips to the store to purchase the goods and services you need. Friction is reduced. Companies are coming to you. Businesses are making it easier than ever to purchase from them. Companies like Uber have clearly shown the world that they can grow to be $50 billion dollar behemoths by challenging the status quo. This is a rapidly changing world, and the slow will not survive.
I feel blessed to be a part of this new world and to have the opportunity to live during this time of Digital Renaissance. I wanted to put together this report for you to lay out my point of view on all of the interesting things that are happening within this new on demand and concierge economy.
Before we begin, I would like to pull back for just a beat and begin from deep gratitude and respect. It is amazing that we get a chance to live in this futuristic world and experience all this new technology. Although much of the technology is still brand new and needs refinement, it is important to be thankful of all the amazing things that are being built. It will be interesting to tell your kids someday that you were alive before Uber, Operator and Google Now were even invented. I bet these services will be such a staple of life that your future kids and grandkids will not understand and will react like those teenagers in the Youtube videos who just don’t get old technology.
Additionally I think it’s vital in this conversation to always remember the fundamental dignity of every human person. As this on demand economy continues to grow, we need to always value the hard working individuals who are providing the on the ground service to us.
There is no magic to ODE. Burritos don’t just appear, and self-driving cars don’t shuttle you home each day. More often than not, ODE businesses are simply people providing you a service
– Marcela Sapone
Friction is Everywhere
I sit here this evening and write this in Mountain View, California, I am just a few miles from the headquarters of the worlds biggest tech companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook. It’s intersting that even though these futuristic companies are just minutes away there is still a large amount of fiction that surrounds me even in this futuristic little town.
It takes me about 45 minutes to get food delivered. Groceries take about an hour or so. Hotels can be booked pretty quickly with numerous apps. However, apartments on Craigslist and Airbnb are pretty slow and take me days. Clothing can be ordered but I have to wait a few days for it to be delivered. It takes me approximately 18 hours to book a TaskRabbit to work with me. Craigslist is even slower.
SpeedLancer advertises work done within 4 hours, however they currently do not offer any in-person options and I believe work with people overseas. If I want prestige, I can get a nice big Uber SUV to show up at my door within about 7 minutes. I don’t believe there’s any on-demand services to allow me to simply push a button and get clothes brought to me immediately. But I’m keeping my eye out for them.
How to make your life better
The Concierge Layer
Sitting above the thousands of startups that are currently available is the concierge level. Concierge services work to simplify the ordering process and reduce steps in the interaction between what a customer wants and the end product or service the business provides. Often times the work is done by a group of young people in a type of call center. These new services help people not have to think about which startup too use to get what they want. The customer simply asks for something and the call center helps work with them to get it fulfilled.
Operator – Well funded and polished
Operator was one of the first companies that really caught my eye. The beautiful animated teaser page design by Vitor Lourenço stood out in a sea of bland landing pages. They have made something awesome. When I first got a chance to begin working with their beautiful app I was very impressed. It is a clean and simple interface that allows you to talk with an “operator” who works to help you get you whatever products you would like. All the purchasing and receipt delivery happens seamlessly in line within the app. Recently, Operator has begun the pivot toward services as well.
Magic – Scrappy, hardworking & part of YC
Magic came out of a company called Plus labs. These were the team headed by Mike Chen that put a 3-D printer on the international space station. The Magic site was actually a pivot from a blood pressure startup that they were doing with Y Combinator. People flooded their service when the landing page went up. There was a real desire in the marketplace for customers to be able to order whatever they wanted by simply sending a text. They have been growing incredibly rapidly recently.
I have a great deal of experience with Magic since I began using their service on day 6 after they launched. I have sent them countless requests and have been one of their most engaged customers. I have also promoted Magic to hundreds of my friends and followers and was able to sign up 62 customers to their service. Unfortunately my experiences with them recently has gone downhill. They have been incredibly unprofessional and have even deleted my account.
Butler – Following Magic’s lead & Free
Butler is an interesting startup that has taken the work that Magic has done and begun to build on it. They have put up a beautiful video landing page and are offering the similar type of services that Magic offers. Using a similar landing page as Magic they have begun on boarding thousands of customers. Their competitive advantage over Magic is that they offer their services free of charge. I believe they are going to be focusing on the affiliate model that I will discuss below.
Helpa – App is launched, experimenting with NLP
Helpa is another great company to watch. They have already launched a barebones, yet working app and are experimenting with some natural language processing technologies. Although they are located in England they have worked hard to understand the context of the needs that I have while here in Silicon Valley. They have also begun to do experimenting with some interesting NLP natural language programming to try to proactively understand a customer’s request. Although the technology is a bit clunky at this point, I commend them for trying.
The rise of the micro-task
I think an important aspect of this new economy is the rise of the micro task. In the future I believe that the micro task is going to be an essential part of the economy. A few different types of micro tasks include
Using your voice to call Uber
Using your voice to be able to get groceries delivered every week
Using your voice to send flowers to your parents
More traditional Concierge services
I believe that this market is currently dominated by Operator and by Magic. The other players are also growing and are interesting to keep an eye on. These are more traditionally priced concierge services that require an upfront monthly payment for a set amount of tasks or work.
Zirtual – Zirtual is
Fancy Hands – Offering
MySecond – With the acquisition of
The Services layer
There are a number of new service-based companies that are making life easier for people. I would like to discuss two of them today Alfred and managed by Q.
Alfred – Alfred has done a amazing job of exploding on the scene recently. They won the TechCrunch disrupt award this year and have been steadily growing in New York City. In fact, they recently purchased all the assets of WunWun. Their goal is to make life easier for busy people. They offer an app that allows people to book their cleaning, their groceries, and any other additional small services such as shipping. Alfred is run by Marcela and Jessica.
Managed by Q – Managed by Q is an interesting company that helps office managers, and people that are in charge of buildings, keep their office is running smoothly. With a software program running on an iPad it is provided by the company, they are able to create and Luber for supplies, cleaning and handyman services. One of the things that I like about managed by Q, is there principled approach to working with a spectrum of different employees. Throughout their literature, and on their site you can see a consistent respect for the employees that they work with. Dan and ____ have founded Managed by Q.
People often times get frustrated at Google for their lack of a transparent data policy. So to these new industries need to begin to establish safeguards for their customers so they feel confident and sharing information with them.Working with the concierge is a very personal thing. I get a chance no your habits, your likes, dislikes, where you live, where you shop.
Build Great Things
One the most exciting aspects of this new industry is the ability to build on top of it. If you’re able to ask for pretty much anything you want, why not set up a recurring task, or build some sort of system on top of the Consear services. I’ve begun to experiment with this in a few ways.
Dave Ramsey – I was working with Magic to build a Dave Ramsey system. This would simply check my Mint.com account every month and then send me one text message with the amount of money that I saved. For example the text message could read, “congratulations Dave, you saved $725 this month. Good job.”
Also, it will be interesting to see if startups are able to use the services and build on top of them. Solid example of this is blank. This service allows you to set up a delivery service in San Francisco. This type of white labeling to be very powerful for small start ups in the future to experiment with their offerings.
The importance of “Deep Context”
Here is my definition of this important term:
Deep Context is the ability to deeply and fully understand a person. When you take the time to listen and understand a person’s likes, dislikes, preferences, and various subtleties. Achieving Deep Context with an individual requires large amounts of time and effort. It requires the discipline of actively listening to the individual.
Once you understand the deep needs, wants and interests of an individual then you can begin to establish a relationship to provide a truly exceptional tailored, on-demand concierge experience. “Deep Context” is far superior than the “basic context” which you see a number of companies typically aim for.
Companies invariably lose customers because they don’t understand their customers deepest needs. Albeit time-consuming, the ROI on taking the time to truly understand a person is potentially immense.
The Trust Timeline
Customers do not like one night stands. To truly serve and work with a customer it is essential to have a long term vision.
I define the Trust Timeline as:
The committed, gradual building of trust with a customer over a long period of time. The thousands of interactions, communications and signals that give the customer a sense of security in working with you.
I have worked to onboard customers into this economy. I have been able to see the numerous customer’s initial misgivings, and begin to slowly but proactively build trust with them by providing more context and information. I was able to answer their questions and concerns. After this groundwork was laid, many were then willing to take the initial micro-steps in beginning to work together.
The Onboarding Funnel
Awareness – The potential customer is aware of the existence of a product or service. We get in front of them and present our value proposition.
Interest – The potential customer begins expressing an interest in possibly participating and taking a small step forward
Action – The customer takes a concrete step forward to work with Magic by sending that important first text.
Battle for the Homescreen
Consumers today have limited bandwidth. They’re not able to download all million of the apps in the App Store. The player that emerges to best serve this market will be able to offer services for all the on-demand economy. It will be such interesting to watch as the battle for the home screen continues. If you can get your after service on to Ryan Hoover’s home screen.
Remember, the iPhone was able to replace 23 devices that you could purchase at Best Buy, Walmart or RadioShack. The convergence of technology in that one device was incredible to watch.
The Major Tech Players
Education is essential
About 98% of the people out there probably don’t know it, but you can get your groceries delivered and a cleaning person to come to your house for a decently low price.
We’ve been conditioned to think that the only way to get groceries is my going to the supermarket. However this is not the case. A few taps on an app or a text message to a Consear service and you could get your groceries delivered right to your front door.
Another interesting aspect of this is educating the supply side. The last 10 overrides that I’ve taken I’ve asked if the drivers knew of the company Taskrabbit. In 10 out of 10 examples, they did not.
Get Work done
One of the interesting things about the relation of the world today, is that it also applies to the world of work. If you need to hire someone to get something done you can use some of these new services to do so.
Some of them include
It’s pretty amazing that now we can simply go online, hire somebody quickly to help us with our projects and work. It will be interesting over the next 10 years as the services continue to grow. The merge between Odesk and E Lance was an example of this and I believe that this space is going to be very competitive going forward.
The rise of the Robots
Carla.io – program the service to send you a text message to remind you to do things
Assistant – this Siri competitor, is beginning to build out a whole suite of services that it offers.
These two programs are pretty interesting to use and you can program them to make your life easier. It will be fast into watch as these two companies grow over the course of the next 5 to 10 years.
It’s interesting. I’m writing this on my computer not by hand, but instead I’m simply using my voice. I think this is the future. You won’t have to simply type in text to send inputs to computers and computer– Instead they will understand what we are trying to say to them and will react accordingly.
The future is gonna be awesome. It’s simply gonna talk into your phone and tell it what you need for the day and then automatically deliver the different things that you need get taken care of. Whether that be food, laundry, transportation, travel, or whatever else that you need.
I believe there is going to be a major company at the center of it all.
A profitable Uber for everything company does not actually exist right now. There are a few new companies that are beginning to emerge, however no one has totally figured this space out yet. It’s too new and there’s too many variables at this time.
The Internet is a giant machine designed to give people what they want” – Ev
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The Different Verticals
One of things it’s fast getting Madison Street is that there’s so many different types of tasks that can be accomplished by a team that’s willing to do the hard work. These different types of tasks can be broken down into blank number of categories. They include:
Which Verticals are the most valuable?
Once we understand where these different tasks are going, and we can begin to map the revenue towards which verticals are the most profitable. Which is industries is the most profitable. Go to the different types of customers are willing to spend the most money for these different Consear services.
The Future is Coming
It’s pretty simple, the future is coming. It is going to happen. I know it. You know it. It’s simply a matter of when and who is going to build it. It’ll be fascinating to watch as these companies battle it out for the customer over the course the next 5 to 10 years.
This is such a cool space to be in. It’s convergence of two of my favorite aspects of life. Technology and also humanism. I think it’s so fascinating how we can use technology to improve people’s lives. We can go be on the status quo and make life better. We can build new things. Additionally, it’s important have A 100% humanistic approach this. As Marcela send me article above, it’s humans they’re doing all the work in powering this economy. We must always remember that.
These are exciting times, the world is improving and changing right beneath our feet. Let’s all work together to make this world a better place.
The future is awesome. We can already view a glimpse this with our seven minute times for over and out quickly they can write us with a good service for a good price. But it’s only to get better. Good and services are to become quicker and well priced for us. Entire industries will be rebuilt because of these large shifts.
We are actively tracking the top 125 companies in this space, 3,450 total data points
Tools for devs and builders
There are a number of brand-new tools that allow start ups and developers to begin building on this amazing technology. Simply send me a message and I would be glad to share with you all the information I have regarding these best-of-breed tools to build a service like this.
The Live Pulse
In addition to the comprehensive spreadsheet of this entire industry we have also created a private Twitter feed where we closely track everything that’s going on within all these new companies. With up-to-date up to the second information on the newest releases newest growth within the industry this private Twitter feed is very valuable and can help anybody get an understanding of what direction these companies are going in.
The whole industry in realtime with the key players. Send me a message if you would private access.
How Can I Help?
Available for hire and for consulting