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I finally get it. Uber. I had a great experience yesterday when I used the service for the very first time. Simple app user interface; a very professional, courteous driver.

Uber invites, verifies, and signs up private car owners as drivers on its software platform. You install the app on your device, register, and tell the app where you are and where you want to go. Your input is sent to a database, the closest driver is contacted, and you’re advised of the estimated time of arrival. An estimated fare range appears, with a caveat explaining why it could vary slightly due to traffic. Next thing, the driver calls to confirm your travel details. He (or she) arrives and you’re on your way in minutes.

So

the drivers make money (if you have an acceptable car, you like to drive, you know your way around Lagos, and you can stand people of all creeds stuck in one place with you over periods), and

the service saves customers headache (or as the company says, money).

Uber’s investment? Software, partner management. No fleet, no employed drivers. The company gets 20% of the returns per trip, the driver the rest. And plans are way ahead to begin to move food and packages, too.

This uberisation or uberfication is real, not just for Uber the company but as a business model for all other kinds of services — see here what I found. Imagine if one could access personal security services or the police on demand via an app? Would the police commission such an app to pinpoint actual distress locations? What if you could use an app to call a car mechanic on third mainland bridge if the need arises? Or get laundry done, have fresh foodstuff or cooked food delivered? How about space for rent, medical emergencies, entertainment, events… How many of these or other approaches could work in Nigeria?

Uber is possible because of the Internet and location-based services. I think there just might be a market for Uber-type businesses using interactive voice calls or text messaging.

Lesson: You can be a software company involved in anything under the sun…others will take care of the hardware for you.

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