When I was younger, I used to think that a successful business required a brilliant idea. Over the years, I have come up with many ideas and products which I thought were so good that I tried to get some of them patented by the US patent office (interactive Radio, interactive Billboards, a mechanism to prevent seat belts from getting jammed, a mechanism to drop the windows in case of accident, technology to eliminate texting while occupying the driver's seat, etc...). Heck, I even managed to get some patents issued. Whoop Dee Doo.
Over the years, I have come to realize that a properly executed mediocre idea will yield results far superior than a poorly executed seemingly great idea. Michael Dell said it best:" Ideas are a commodity. The execution of them is not".
I live in South Florida where Uber became legal in Miami-Dade only a few short months ago following the lifting of its ban in Broward Country earlier this year. Keeping in mind that in many countries, ridesharing is still not legal, and looking at the low penetration numbers among phone users, it is safe to say that ridesharing technology is at its acceptance phase and it stands to grow a lot more. Consequently, although ridesharing is big now, I am inclined to think that it stands to get even bigger.
I certainly understand that it's a tough market to penetrate. The deep discounts given by Uber and Lyft make it almost impossible for a third party to acquire market share. That's why sidecar had to fold and analysts keep talking about either a monopoly or a duopoly in that industry, at least here in the US.
Focusing on the US market, I would say it's a duopoly as Lyft market share is continuously increasing and more drivers are joining its network every day. At any rate, I am not trying to compete with the various ridesharing apps on the market. Instead, I intend to offer a product that will complement their offering.
Originally, I came up with the idea of providing an entertainment platform to the ridesharing space. After all, you have a captive audience that is not going anywhere for the duration of the ride. I decided to validate my idea by talking to ridesharing users and drivers. I joined the drivers' forums and conducted a couple of online surveys. I quickly realized that approach wasn't enough when I found out about Vugo and Tripcam. Those two companies provide in-car advertising but they are not exactly household names. Several drivers knew of the existence of those two companies, yet, they were not signing up with them. The drivers I spoke to could not explain to me why they were not interested. Therefore, I decided to become a driver.
I have driven in every Uber category available in South
Florida: UberPool, UberX, UberXL, Uber LUX, Uber LUX SUV. I have provided over
1,000 rides and quizzed almost every rider about changes they would like to see,
showing them prototypes and implementing features and suggestions which I felt
were appropriate. I have talked face to face with countless Uber drivers. In
the process, my original idea has morphed significantly to the point where in-car
advertising and the accompanying entertainment platform are no longer the main
focus. What I have now is completely different from what I started with. I
believe I have figured out how to get drivers on board as well as riders; by
providing them with what they want....lol. I have a waiting list of hundreds of
drivers in the Miami area alone. I've built a prototype and I believe I am now
ready to move forward.
I understand my limitations and I know I have never played at this level. Consequently, I will need to get onboard a cofounder with business development experience, someone with experience in fundraising as well as marketing and advertising sales. I have had many riders in my car who have expressed interest in joining me as cofounder. Among them are a former Apple executive and two current Google employees. However, I am worried about messing up the whole thing as I know that the wrong cofounder could sink a business. Hence the following questions: how do I go about finding the right business development partner? What should the next move be from there? How do I know that THIS is THE guy that can help me take this thing to the next level? Your input is very much appreciated.