*Being an entrepreneur can be both exciting and frightening. The freedom to be on your own clock, so to speak, and have the impetus to actually do something with all of those crazy ideas that come into your head can be truly exhilarating. But the frightening part is the risk-taking involved; the expense — especially if it is exercised with reckless abandon — and not having a mentor to shadow and learn from.
I can recall a mentor from one of my entrepreneurial pursuits, one that I am stil proudly involved with today, told me (well, reminded me because it is something I already knew, but only took to heart when he said it), that, “You can’t learn how to make money from a broke person.”
I used the “broke person” example here, but you can apply this to anything in life. Can you trust good marriage advice to come from someone who has been divorced several times? Can an unhealthy person give you health tips? And just use your head here, someone struggling with mental illness can’t…well, you get my drift.
But does this stop people from flapping their lips to tell you what YOU should be doing — and how you should be doing it?
Hell no. That’s just the way it is. And though it often keeps life interesting, you don’t have to be down with it.
So when I came across an article that had a successful entrepreneur who had co-founded a business so well known around the world that it has become a verb (“I’m doing Uber today.” “I’m taking an Uber.” “Let’s Uber there!”) giving lessons on life and leadership, my ears perked up.
I’m going to be honest, I am a be about the change kind of thinker. My life philosophy has always been about creating value; and as my personal mentor puts it, do this from “right where you are.” Not when its most convenient, not when I get rich, not when I get married, not when I live there.
But from exactly where I, .you, are sitting or standing or being…right now.
In 2008, during a tech conference in Paris, two men were having one helluva time getting a taxi. That’s when Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp did one of the most value-creating things I can think of…
They made a apct to create something that would ensure no one ever had that problem again.
And in 2009, Uber was born.
Kalanick also serves as the CEO of the company, and Uber is his third entrepreneurial venture. He decided to drop out of UCLA in 1998, and together with some friends started a peer-to-peer file sharing service called Scour. But that didn’t work out so well. Kalanick’s company was sued by the media in 2000 for copyright infringement leaving him with only one option to save himself.
But with no time to wallow in failure (because that’s just NOT what born leaders do!) he put an engineering team together a year later and founded Red Swoosh, a peer to peer networking client that downloads and sideloads video multicasts from websites that support the Red Swoosh Technology.
Six years later he and Red Swoosh co-founder Michael Todd sold the business for $19 million to Akamai Technologiess.
So do you think this man can tell you tips on life lessons? Leadership?
I’ll take that as a yes.
Uber was only a four-person team in San Francisco six years ago and as is the case with any new business, they were utilizing all of their resources just to stay afloat.
Don’t be afraid to start small: Kalanick on his initial days at Uber
“We couldn’t have guessed that this would be something we would do or something in our future but here we are. For a while, Graves (Uber’s head of operations) and I, we could barely keep the lights on and our thoughts in the beginning were really about surviving and making sure we had enough rides with the number of cars we put on the system.”
Creating Value: A great business is one that solves a problem
The idea of Uber came when Kalanick faced the simple problem of finding a cab in Paris. Whether it’s Amazon or Google, every big business we see today is helping people solve a problem; making their life that much easier and better. When your business is based on solving a specific problem, you add value to the life of your customer.
Kalanick on why he started Uber:
“Uber didn’t begin with any grand ambitions, it began as the answer to that simple question.”
Work towards giving people a better option:
One of the biggest reason for Uber’s success is that consumers are driven by convenience and price. Going from one place to the next is as easy as tapping your phone. Uber has also built in algorithms to make sure there are enough cabs in your vicinity. Though the surge pricing does not please customers, it does make sure that enough cabs are available to you when the demand is high, benefiting both, the cab owner and the customer.
Kalanick on revolutionizing the way we commute:
“Uber is the most affordable transportation choice. In most cities, UberX is half the cost of a taxi and when you factor in parking, insurance and maintenance, commuting with UberX is cheaper than owning a car”
ROADBLOCKS, They are going to pop up. But don’t let them discourage or stop you!
C’mon, we’ve read the bad press. Uber has no doubt had its share of mistakes, as has any business and the company is still fighting regulation in new markets. Most recently Uber overcame a big one by partnering with LAX!
But the company continues to challenge existing laws in efforts to expand it’s business reach. Yet every step of the way, Kalanick stands his ground by using his self-proclaimed, ‘principled confrontation’.
Kalanick on facing business hurdles:
“We’ve faced resistance every step of the way. Nearly every time we try to set up shop in a new city, there’s a powerful industry with powerful allies who try to stop progress — you may have read about it in the news — who try at all costs to protect the status quo.”
AND FINALLY…this writer’s personal experience with Uber:
I have spent hundreds of dollars using Uber over the past few years. Where I lived wasn’t even designed for folks who didn’t have a car (the nearest public transportation is close to four miles away!) and so it was much more convenient to call Uber when I was ready to go, and be able to track the driver (or contact them if necessary) who was on the way to get me.
I recall once, on one of the rare occasions an Uber car wasn’t available), I called a taxi. A ride that Uber normally charged $4 for cost $10 in that taxi. I recall telling the taxi driver, “you guys are not even trying to compete!”
The reason why I say Uber has the power to change the world is this: IT’S PUTTING PEOPLE TO WORK AND CREATING BUSINESS OWNERS. AND IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT RACE YOU ARE OR WHAT YOUR NAME IS!
For those who already have a car in good condition, unless you have a poor background check, there are no “interviews” and it won’t matter if your name is culturally-based.
You get the job!
If you find yourself in-between jobs or needing to supplement your income, once you and your car pass the background and vehicle checks.
You get the job!
With the tap of an app downloaded on your cellphone, you start or stop working. No matter what time of day or night.
And if you’ve got the nerve to be GOOD at what you do…the promotions keep coming on how to maximize your earnings.
There is also the satisfaction that comes from knowing you are taking drunk drivers off the road as now, people who know they are going out to “tie one on” have the option of pressing the app button and ordering an Uber.
Though I am not trying to present Uber as a “perfect” solution, it certainly has made its mark in the world in a relatively short time. And it truly does have the power to change the world…economically speaking, and the lives of many who utilize it.
To learn more about Uber visit its website here. To become an Uber driver…like I did (and I love it!) just sign up at the website (you can even use my code and ne rewarded after making a certain number of trips if you’d like: Tw5zd upon signing up. You can also use the code to get $15-$20 off your first ride. because everyone will not want to drive.
Here’s to you and a greater economic future for us all!
Questions/comments: email “[email protected]”