As we enter the gluttonous startup world of the Uber For X generation, people are increasingly finding the opportunity to work in random industries at random times--the Gig Economy. You could be a handyman one day, a cleaner the next or simply picking up groceries. It's immensely attractive for the fledgling entrepreneur to make one of these businesses too--you're able to create jobs out of thin air to deliver whatever service you want to deliver with the touch of a button. Though there are many questions as to whether it's a fair economy and whether you're working with contractors or employees, it's a potentially huge opportunity for the right service.
The core tenets of the successful gig economy startup are at times obvious, but you may or may not be surprised by how missing these steps may make your company flop painfully. To avoid failure in your gig economy startup, see these four key tenets.
Developers, Developers, Developers
The user experience and seamlessness of Uber, Postmates, Taskrabbit and others betrays a deep layer of excellent coding. According to this Quora post, Uber has potentially hundreds of engineers, suggesting that that one-touch approach to getting a cab is a lot more complex than you'd think. Great coders are also becoming a horribly hard-to-find commodity nationwide, let alone in the valley.
That's why 10x Management was founded by a YCombinator graduate. While many businesses offer the potential to hire particular staff on a contractor basis, 10x combines an actual technical knowledge (the missing link in many recruitment situations) with the support backend to find the right tech talent. They focus purely on the project-based contractor option over talent that will eventually become fully part of your team, which lends itself neatly to the creation of an on-demand/gig-economy startup's creation of the core platform it runs on. They purport to supply anything from data scientists to UI/UX developers, and have worked with Google, Nordstrom and AMEX to name a few. Design is one of the first places you'll lose a new user, honestly.
Market Research (Beyond Google)
Most businesses, especially gig-economy businesses, grow through actually understanding their market. DoorDash, Postmates et al. have recognized holes in the market (for example, as silly as it sounds, the huge opportunity Postmates had getting people Chipotle, which doesn't deliver) and taken advantage of them. Uber's (humble?) beginnings are also a great example--the San Francisco's cab market was a total mess, and well-moneyed individuals were a great target for their, at the time, expensive yet reliable Uber Black Car service. The death of Sidecar proved that you can't walk into a market with only a slight differentiation--and Juno, another Uber competitor, is looking to differentiate themselves by making drivers very, very happy. As the many Uber for X startups pop up, it's really tempting to attempt to take a chunk out of someone else's pie--though I'd really recommend you try something a bit new. Also, something that makes more sense than simply hitting a button that says "summon" and getting someone to deliver something.
Treat Contractors Like Employees (Or just make them employees)
As Sage pointed out, a business's employees are its most valuable asset, which becomes especially difficult when you're a gig-economy startup that doesn't necessarily call the people who work for you employees. Companies that approach HR management strategically see 40 percent lower turnover and 38 percent job engagement. When an employee is engaged, performance and customer service levels will improve, and this means that you have to find long-distance ways to make them care about the job. Lyft found a good way of doing this through their community Hub and regularly encourages drivers to get together for specific Lyft events. Airbnb hosts regularly get together, and Airbnb themselves created a meetups page so that hosts feel like they're doing more than renting out a room. By definition your employees (or contractors, depending on how you're building your gig-economy company) are between jobs at all times, and thus it's key to keep them happy and engaged with more than just their own time and property.