This past Friday I was in San Francisco visiting my brother and a few friends. The weather was absolutely terrible and as we stepped out the door to leave for the evening, we were greeted by a torrential downpour. My friend Tim immediately said, “looks like we gotta use Uber.” This was my first experience with what I think is a fantastic start-up.
Uber was founded in 2009 by Garret Camp and Travis Kalanick. Both entrepreneurs, some will recognize Camp’s name as the founder of Stumbleupon. The story goes that Camp was interested in using a black car for transportation, but didn’t want to hire a driver full time. Enter his idea for Uber. For-hire black cars inherently have a tremendous amount of excess inventory and Uber found a way to fill that inventory.
Here’s how it works. Users can download Uber’s app for free onto either an Iphone or an Android device. After setting up an account and entering credit card info, you are ready to get an Uber cab. With the touch of a button, Uber pings the nearest driver in the area and will almost instantly let you know who your driver is, how far away they are, and even let you track them on a map. Our first drivers name was Edward and he showed up at our door within 3 minutes. Absolutely fantastic! At the end of the ride, there is no transaction, your card is automatically charged by Uber’s system, tip included. Their technology tracks your trip, the distance and time, and charges you accordingly.
We used Uber 3 times that evening and never had to wait longer than 5 minutes. As far as I can tell Uber is fantastically simple and extremely reliable. The cars are all clean town cars or Escalades which means no more filthy cabs. I have been down to SF quite frequently in recent months and catching a cab is very difficult. As a result, I will definitely be using Uber as my primary means of transportation during future trips. It is well worth the 50% more you might pay in fare.
Congrats to the entire team at Uber. You guys have a fantastic disruptor.