Inspiration for this post to David Havens — read his post here:
I’m inspired by the opportunity for creativity that Lyft finds itself in. Here are some ideas that I think could be fun…medium.com
So it turns out that many of the people running big companies or popular apps may not have all of the ideas, so I thought I would share a few #FreeIdeas for Lyft, the ride sharing company.
Lyft and Uber are extremely interesting companies at an an extremely interesting time — here are a few creative ideas for them.
Branded Pink Lyft Buses for Dynamic Large Carpools
Lyft should buy a fleet of school buses, paint or vinyl wrap them pink, add the Lyft logo and start operating some real bus-style Lyft Lines with fully dynamic routes.
I blogged about this in 2015 and it seems recently in 2017 they launched Lyft Shuttle which is similar idea ( http://www.businessinsider.com/lyft-shuttle-public-transit-bus-2017-7 and https://www.lyft.com/shuttle).
I think there is an idea here that could work as a fixed route bus (just like an old-style bus, but done by Lyft). Or a dynamic route bus, based on current demand. The main difference in this idea from what they’ve done is it seems they are still using regular cars? I can’t tell. But I think these pink branded school buses would really jump out as a brand building mechanism.
Take Me To the Party Mode
While similar to a Lyft organized party that Lyft pushes out to users, a variant would be that there could be a mode like a Line or regular Lyft where they take the user to some party or social event. The difference is Lyft doesn’t have to organize this and could partner with different places. This option could always be open, even with many event spaces on the same night. If they really wanted to organize a huge party they could push it out to people as David mentioned, but I think if they even just had a mode it would connect the transportation layer (Lyft) to the social layer (what do I do tonight? — there are 100 of those dead web apps across the streets of SOMA for finding events).
I think the reason this is compelling is because Lyft is moving many young people in the city. Bars, events, etc. want them to come but they may not know about it, so they have both a marketing and discoverability problem. This is a great partnership opportunity and a creative business opportunity for Lyft. There’s also a spontaneous element which I think is fun. There are nights where you could get into a Lyft and just go to a great event that is already going on.
Restaurant and Bar Recommendations
This is a related idea to the events, but different in an important way. While people who might want the Take Me to the Party button want a big event or something with a lot of people — many people just might be looking for a restaurant or a bar to go to. The recommendations plus transportation here is a very interesting combination. The low-tech version of this is you can ask your Lyft/Uber/taxi driver for a good spot — they are driving people there so they know some of the top spots. But I think there could be interesting advertising opportunities and another introduction of spontaneity — “We don’t know where to go for dinner, let’s just get a recommendation from Lyft!”
Dating App Mode
This idea is not for everyone, so probably should only be enabled in an advanced setting, but dating apps in their best implementation could be introduction services, and with Lyft you’d have a chance to meet someone right away.
Buy A City Block for Self-Driving Car Rollout
I think the way the mega-corps are trying to roll out self-driving cars is backwards. The approach they’ve taken is going to push back the time to wide availability. This is because they’re trying to solve a very, very difficult problem instead of solving a much easier one. The problem they are trying to solve is general self driving on city roads mixed among cars and people. Uber and Google/Waymo have already had highly publicized accidents which could freak people out (even if the accidents aren’t what they seem).
The problem they should be solving is a much, much simpler problem that they can clearly do. They should buy a city block, somewhere in a major city, and offer free self-driving shuttle rides up and down the block. This area would only have self-driving cars. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, and here is why:
- Driving straight up and down is much easier, and the cars can do it today
- Driving just among self-driving cars is easier than driving mixed with human drivers
- Driving in a designated block will have them operating like a shuttle service
- Cars could go slower, which is safer
- Wow-factor of self-driving cars will drive lots of foot traffic, interest and tourism to those businesses
- This builds positive public perception which can help drive adoption (negative public perception leading to regulation seems to be for me the biggest barrier to self-driving adoption)
- Solving a small problem is easier than a big problem — once people/cities see how successful this is they will be clamoring to expand.
I think it would behoove these companies to roll out successfully in a more structured way and then expand instead of the way they are doing.
Support Computer Science/Coding Education in K12 and for Drivers
Wait — how is this related? This may also seem self-serving since I run CodeHS — a site for teaching coding to middle schools and high schools. Here’s why this is an important creative idea for Lyft.
Lyft and Uber and a few others are clearly pushing autonomous cars as the future of their business and business model. This leads to obvious conclusions that:
- Rides will be much cheaper in a self-driving car world
- Millions of Lyft/Uber/taxi and truck drivers will be out of a job.
The tough part is number 2 — which actually sounds like it will cause massive unemployment and social upheaval if they do not think about a rollout plan. I think this is a particularly difficult proposition for Lyft, who has built its brand around community, rather than Uber who comes across to the public as … what’s the right word for it… heartless?
But either way, both of them are going to put 1 million people who they’ve been telling “we’re your partner” out of a job. Likely this push of technology will move at least 5 million people out of jobs just in the driving industry and probably more. The reason I think this is a difficult proposition is unlike certain technology innovations, it’s not clear that there will be a short term opportunity in the economy for this many lower-skilled workers.
They’ll need re-skilling to get a decent job.
It’s a strange proposition — Uber and Lyft have to simultaneously support their drivers because that’s how their whole network works — and are also scrambling frantically to put them all out of a job.
I think a better way here is to start teaching coding and supporting coding in schools. This is a real future jobs skill, in a highly growing area. Not everyone will be a coder, but these type of tech skills level people up significantly from minimum wage opportunities in a crowded labor market. These will make their drivers employable.
For example, Lyft could take a small amount of that billion and fund a high school computer science initiative 🙂 It would actually help them maintain their brand, make an impact, and provide a real way to transition to a self-driving world.
For help on any of these you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @jkeesh.