Ready to serve
Plug and play
Pick up on the way
…the list goes on! We are not even sure how many of these funky tags are yet to come. What we do know is consumers are in a hurry – they’re on the run like never before.
Every service we need, from a neck massage to a pet walker, we want them right now. Of course, we need everything pocket-sensitive, highly-rated, eco-friendly, sustainability-driven, and potentially groundbreaking!
The simple truth around all the fuss is this: consumer impatience is skyrocketing faster than our next mission to Mars.
Manifestations of consumer impatience have brought the best of out of the creative capacities of small and large brands. Businesses are promising innovative solutions for regular problems. America’s entrepreneurs (and their investors) are routinely investing blood and sweat in these new promises.
But tough as it may sound, creative promises do not solve problems. Not that they do not have the gusto, but just that they fall flat before the cruelty of numbers – only one in ten new ideas see success. The ratio further worsens when you factor in the longevity of their shelf lives.
Aggressive online marketing creates a solid digital impression among buyers and service seekers. And unfathomable promo offers further build on the Utopian atmosphere.
But eons before the breakeven point, businesses run into a slew of pragmatic issues and that is exactly when the “entrepreneur’s spell” is off the financiers’ aura.
Before you know it, investors lose faith in the idea of the business. Funds stop flowing and hunting new investors becomes a Herculean dream.
Let’s move on with a name all of us have heard and a story that many of us haven’t.
Tesla: The Untold Story
All those who have been following Elon Musk on Twitter are in dramatic awe of how the man has taken up public challenges and come out on top 100% of the time. While Tesla is a blazing example of how a modern business can at once be disruptive, sustainable, and truly inspirational, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride for the car brand.
Between 2006 and 2009, Tesla was sustained through several rounds of funding. The companies that participated include big names like Daimler AG, Toyota, and even the Google co-founders (Musk himself pitched in with around $70 million). In addition to the funding, there were at least two major layoffs in the workforce in the same period.
As of January 2009, Tesla had raised total funds worth $187 million and delivered 147 cars.
And then a miracle happened. Between June 2012 and December 2016, Tesla went from 3,000 to 30,000 employees. The company acquired SolarCity and Grohmann. One model followed another and Brand Tesla received global recognition. Tesla became an international brand and its founder, Elon Musk became a homegrown Twitter celeb (plus, a lot more).
So why did Tesla win despite most odds stacked against them? And why did their investors keep faith in them through all the tough times? And how on earth did they manage to lure top-ticket investors while the company was in the depths of loss?
The answer to these questions holds the key for any new business that wants to be big and important at the same time.
Tesla was not just another fancy idea–it was a necessary one.
Beyond all stats and graphs, every employee, every promoter, and every investor knew in their hearts that Tesla’s time will come. Moreover, Tesla did not jostle for space in the existing automobile market. The company launched an ecosystem of its own. It wasn’t like nobody was making electric cars before Tesla. But there was no company before Tesla that decided to take the bull by its horns and change the automobile ecosystem as we knew it.
Yet, after so much of hill-climbing and self-jostling, Tesla is still not profitable! As much as we would like to believe that Tesla is a success, again, the numbers do not lie. While Tesla still makes a profit per unit from the vehicles they sell, the cost of setting up the expansive ecosystem (shops, charging stations, R&D centers) has set them back by a lifetime debt of $10.5 billion. The cumulative cash investment Tesla made in 2017 alone was $4.4 billion.
But despite all odds, Tesla is winning. And there’s no stopping. Both the investors and employees are happy even without profits. Because more than anything, all of them realize that the company is at the fag end of the dark night. 2018 and 2019 are the most promising years for the company so far. Before the end of 2020, the company will see profits. Yes, the good folks at Tesla have successfully implemented what many thought was a drunk man’s idea.
That was just Tesla. SpaceX is a story for another day.
The Services Industry
From newspaper postings to radio ads and from TVCs to mobile apps, the services industry has come off age. It does not matter how quickly services come to us; we want them quicker regardless.
Amazon delivers your package within 24 hours (or even on the same day) and Uber is literally real-time. Now, these companies have been around for so long that people have grown habituated to their speed.
Once homeowners get habituated with the speed of work being done in one industry, it is imperative that associated industries catch up – for their own good.
The home services industry quickly sensed this change in pace as fast as a rat smells cheese. Pat, we moved from websites to mobile apps. More and more home services companies launched and relaunched themselves as apps. New companies joining the industry started as apps straight away. And we kid you not – more are coming as we speak.
Here’s a 3-second test. Type the name of your favorite brand (from any industry) on the App/Play Store of your phone. It will return you an app – we guarantee. And why not? No company out there is so foolish to let go a sizeable portion of their app-hungry user base.
But does converting the business into an app fill all its loopholes at once?
The answer is a big NO (bold, CAPS, and enlarged font size).
Making an app does not build you a new ecosystem for seeking and providing services. If at all an app is the solution, it has to be an app that solves key industry problems by either creating/refurbishing the ecosystem in which the services industry lives and breathes.
The Four Service Industry Problems – And Their Solutions
Out of the closet, here are some pertinent problems that plague the app industry:
1. There is an app for every service. But no marketplace!
Isn’t it great that we have an app for just about any service we can need?
And isn’t it terrible that we do not have a singular marketplace for all these services?
Wouldn’t such a marketplace make it easier for all of us to seek and provide services seamlessly? A marketplace for services will successfully place all small and large gigs onto one big platform.
In turn, that will solve one scathing industry problem for good – both service seekers and service providers will have more on their plate in terms of which service they choose to seek or provide. At the moment, we are all subconsciously habituated to the inconvenience of multiple apps. It will be a matter of time before we embrace the expansive convenience of a singular, large marketplace.
2. Too much focus on pros and handymen. None on beginners
Answer this honestly. What level of skill do you require in a service provider who you book for trans-rooming your sofa?
None. Basically, you are only looking at an additional pair of hands here. You do not want to pay $30/hour to someone for shifting help.
What we need is an ecosystem that bridges this gap between affordability for service seekers and a legitimate career option for beginner service providers.
In fact, this goes beyond being an industry-specific issue and borders on tackling the larger employment scenario for a sizeable demography that consists of young people raring to launch themselves into the active workforce.
3. Too expensive to even try
Some cookies are so hot we do not know whether to put them in the mouth or drop them on the ground!
That is just how an average service seeker looks at services apps that have made a habit of charging moon-ride fares to their customers. We are talking about services that are both essential and overpriced and seekers have no second option because every other app is functioning at the same ballpark range of overpricing.
Basic gigs must be accompanied by basic rates. Any theory that suggests otherwise is a horse victimized by profound diarrhea.
4. Nothing is really on-demand
Think about this. Every time you book a new gig, you need to tap through a number of parameters and preferences. And then come the rates. Most of the rates are so high that you need to tirelessly scroll down to find out the one that suits you the best.
So you zero in on a service provider with half-hearted agreement over the charge. And just when you are about to hit the book button, you see that the ratings for the service provider are not as good as you would want them to be. You revert to the list of providers.
Before you know it, 20 minutes have passed and you have still not booked a service. On an on-demand services app!
Most apps fail at understanding the service seeking expectations of their user base at large. Knowing what service seekers are looking for and tweaking the micro-bits and pieces of the app accordingly will do more good to any ODS app than spending thousands of dollars on ads.
What Stacks in Favor of a Marketplace for Services?
By now, it is evidently clear that we are heavily advocating for a marketplace of services – a mother of all apps that fulfills the categorical needs and wants for the extended family – elders, kids, teens, college students, office goers, pets, and even appliances. For this to happen, we will need an ecosystem of service providers with different skill levels including pros (true-blue service experts), handymen, and novices (semi-skilled professionals).
Imagine a services marketplace so open that it does all the things that any other app would/should do, and adds on heavily to that. For one, it’s beyond time the market structure for service providers undergoes a major facelift. Then, the ecosystem should also entail the following:
- Multiple-provider-seeking within the same booking
- On-demand response from locally available service providers
- Specially oriented focus-group services exclusively nestled in campuses and neighborhoods
- Social lending and borrowing of equipment and household items
- A singular melting pot of neighbors, individuals, family members, organizations, big box vendors, pets, appliances, and automobiles
- The option for providers to sell their products as services (a home cleaner sells brooms and so on)
- Availability of rentals tools and equipment for DIY projects
- The choice to provide emergency/voluntary neighborhood services for free
…and all of these together constitute only the hat of the costume. There’s plenty of room for additional R&D on more inclusions (and probably some exclusions) to make the ecosystem as robust as possible.
Who Bells the Cat?
So here’s the uncomfortable question. It has come up historically whenever we have spoken of breaking away from an existing market mold in favor or a fresher, better ecosystem.
Most product architects tend to capitalize on the existing behavioral patterns of consumers and generate profits by being “the other option” in the industry. Only a negligible few are willing to fight the force of habit of a potentially huge user base to show them new light at the end of the tunnel.
At Onata, we have taken it upon ourselves to bring this disruption in the services industry.
We are building an ecosystem that will allow the marketplace to grow and blossom into an industry of its own. If you are reading this right, we plan on giving to the services industry what Tesla has given to the automobile industry – which is quite literally a dash of fresh air.
But a fresh idea is like a sapling planted by a stream flowing right through the desert. While the stream (existing resources) can sustain it through the germination period (product development), the desert (hostile market) threatens to culminate its journey before the world sees any fruit.
What the idea urgently needs is the attention of resourceful people – people who would understand and appreciate the value of change that it seeks to bring. Transforming a desert into a forest is no mean job. It can only happen when enough people join shoulders to plant saplings and build shades. There is no immediate return. But very soon, there will be a forest full of fruits to share.
This is where we cut the chase (and the metaphors) to strike our point. Onata is looking for funds. Our product is by-and-large market ready and at the development cycle is complete after almost two years of relentless toil.
While we are in the midst of waterproofing the app flow by means of extensive testing, there’s been some fresh breeze recently. We registered our first transaction this week. Not a test one (we’ve had plenty of those, too) – a real transaction between a service provider and a service seeker. But we have only tasted a drop when there’s an ocean to explore. We need support from investors and venture capitalists to dive deeper.
Onata vows to tackle all that is grey in the services industry. We are sure many more industries will follow the Tesla model and investors will back new ecosystems and make sure that cash-crunch does not kill the coolness of new ideas.
Contact us for collaboration today and we will show you what we see at and through Onata.