The “Sharing Economy” has been an amazing driver of wealth and convenience for the world. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and, Airbnb have dramatically changed the way we get from one place to another, stay in one place or another, and get things done. They also have created HUGE company valuations and wealth for investors. Where does Louisville fit into this? Can we get a piece of the pie? Are we actually poised to be a leader in some areas of the sharing economy?
Most people these days are familiar with Uber and Airbnb. If you like to travel, they can make your life a whole lot easier, more convenient, and more cost-effective. They have attained recent valuations of $60+ billion and $30+ billion, respectively, and they continue to grow rapidly. But, there’s only so many markets and services that will work with these kinds of software-based peer-to-peer plays, right? Actually, I believe the sharing economy will continue to dominate the landscape of great scalable companies for quite a while. I also believe that Louisville can and will make an impact in that arena.
I was triggered to write this article by the recent announcement of a $185 million investment in a trucking startup called Convoy. CapitalG, the investment arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, just led the round. Trucking is a $740 billion per year industry in the U.S. More individuals in the U.S. are employed as truckers than any other occupation, and, the industry is often very inefficient. Many truckers are independent contractors. They rely on various brokers to send them business. Attempting to maximize their profits by efficiently planning trips is a critical function that is sorely in need of automation, artificial intelligence, and overall disruption.
That’s where companies like Convoy come in. They’re “Uberizing” the business of trucking, and CapitalG saw enough potential to bet $185 million on the company. Convey is not even a Silicon Valley company! Imagine that. It’s in Seattle, which, granted, is a much more tech advanced community than Louisville, but it does show that companies outside of Silicon Valley are creating major disruptions in the sharing economy.
This is where Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest philosophy will really kick in. More and more companies in the central parts of the United States will begin to develop these technologies. Why? Because, experience in an industry is where the ideas come from, and a lot of industries besides software tech are located in pockets around the country besides Silicon Valley.
I recently posted an article that shows the MOST successful age for an entrepreneur to start a company is 50! It’s not 22. It’s 50. (By the way, I am exactly 50 years old…just saying…😁.) So why is that age successful? It’s because the entrepreneur has experience in their industry. They’ve seen a need for a long time, and they came up with a solution to solve that need. That’s a BIG part of the Rise of the Rest Philosophy. Need + Experience + New Technologies = Huge Opportunity!
So, how can Louisville be a leader in the sharing economy? For one thing, we need to maximize our strengths. We’re a nationwide leader in logistics and healthcare. We’re centrally located. We have lots of great universities and industries. Let’s look for the entrepreneurs who are coming out of these industries and SUPPORT THEM by investing in their companies and helping them grow in any way possible.
So, how are we doing? Are we building any sharing economy companies? Yes we are! Some examples include:
Meta Construction Technologies, LLC (http://www.meta-ct.com/) is “transforming the heavy highway industry with innovative software solutions.” The company originated in the University of Louisville Entrepreneurship MBA program in 2016, and their first product, BlackTop, is a mobile tracking and dispatch platform that lets asphalt contractors request and track dump trucks.
ScheduleIt (https://www.scheduleit.io) provides a system for insurance adjusters to optimize their inspection routes, schedule appointments, and better organize their whole claims adjusting business.
Blue222 (https://blue222.com/) is an Internet-based platform that allows banks, developers, purchasers, engineering firms, and others involved in real estate transactions to obtain multiple bids from pre-qualified consultants, quickly and efficiently, and to manage their entire portfolio of due diligence contractors (such as appraisers, environmental consultants, and building inspections) from one simple dashboard. It’s a $40 billion U.S. industry that’s really poised for serious disruption. By the way, you can learn about investing in Blue222 by clicking here.
Finally, MobileServe (https://mobileserve.com) helps organizations of all types and sizes that want an easier and more accurate way to track, manage, and report their social impact via volunteer activities.
Most of these companies were founded by entrepreneurs with significant experience in their industries who saw the need for the service they created while working neck-deep in the business. They created the product they wished they had while working in the industry!
This is how Louisville becomes a leader in the sharing economy and other technology movements. People with experience need to JUST GET STARTED, and the community needs to jump behind them and provide lots of support!
Metro Startup Launcher is working to make it easier for startups to raise capital in the Louisville area so that more experienced industry professional can make the leap and GET STARTED!
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