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What we can all learn from Uber

‘One of the most successful start-ups in history.’

‘The fastest growing company in the world.’

‘The best example of disruption in an industry ever.’

These are all descriptions of Uber, the app that has proved a major hit with people wanting a taxi. There is no central control centre at Uber – no stressed bookings controller handing out rides and fielding irate phone calls from people whose taxi has not turned up.

It has no significant wage bill – all the drivers are self-employed.

In one sense, it’s just an app. An app that is worth a staggering $3.76bn after less than 5 years.

Part of the cleverness of the app is that it has totally transformed the entire taxi experience, rather than just take one element of the experience and make it better.

It deals with booking, how long will it take? What sort of car will it be? Payment and tips all in one dead easy app.

The drivers are all rated, so any bad ones get weeded out very quickly.

It’s in a word, brilliant.

But in fact it is much more than an app. True, the technology does a lot of the hard work automatically but I think one of the best features is being able to talk to the driver directly rather than being put on hold or not being able to get through to the central controller.

Technology and human beings working in perfect harmony for the benefit of the customer. And because it is so efficient, it means that it is normally much cheaper than other taxis.

There are many parallels with how we have tried to develop Purplebricks and again the combination of technology and human beings being used together to meet customers’ needs, has proved to be a winner in the world of estate agency.

Of course there are many successful tech start-ups that try to eradicate human beings from playing any sort of meaningful role. Perhaps though they are missing a trick...

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