Airbnb valued itself at $30 billion this month. Uber is valued at $67 billion. That’s a decent chunk of change. It’s also intimidating if you’re looking to compete in the sharing economy against entities with so much market share.
You can’t put together the next Wal-Mart overnight. You would need stores, employees, trucks, a distribution network and much more. Just thinking about all of those things at once gives me a mild panic attack.
But there is one thing that many overlook. In the sharing economy companies don’t own infrastructure. They are merely a go-between that connects consumers with providers. In theory there’s nothing stopping another app from building a brand, changing consumer preferences and shifting market share.
This was the thought behind James Matthews’ new app SteadyFare. Matthews, who was recently featured in Inc is an entrepreneur from Grand Rapids, Michigan that had the crazy idea of directly competing against Uber.
SteadyFare is an underdog, for sure. But this underdog, which launched less than a month ago has already raised nearly $1M with a simple value proposition. The prices never surge. No matter the time or place the prices remain constant.
In addition, SteadyFare plans algorithm updates to help pair female riders with female drivers or any other possible preference to make the experience safer and more customizable.
“To us the drivers are key. An Uber driver can also be a SteadyFare driver. During peak times, drivers and riders can switch to the platform,” said Matthews. “We want our drivers to get paid more. We want to be honest with our customers. And we want people to know there is an alternative to unexpectedly paying 8x a normal rate.”
Matthews has soft launched the app in his home market with expansion plans to 20 other U.S. cities. In order for an idea like this to be successful it takes a lot of factors.
You need the right community
Grand Rapids has consistently been voted a Top 10 city to start and grow a business nationally.
You need backing
SteadyFare keeps raising money in a space where recently Uber raised 3.5 billion, Gett raised 300 million and Lyft may possibly sell to General Motors. Even if SteadyFare remains small, the interest will still be high as everyone looks to get in this market.
You need to leverage the existing market
SteadyFare is using existing drivers and riders. They don’t have to create a need. The need already exists. Their challenge is in getting a user base to choose one app over another.
And that’s the exciting and interesting thing about the sharing economy. A company like SteadyFare, which didn’t exist a month ago, can compete with a $67 billion giant. All they have to do is convince people to turn left instead of right.