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Monday, October 25, 2010

My little local enterprise - the new evolution ...

This post is commenting on the excellent post from Techcrunch, you can find here.

Ubercab was a startup offering:
  • Request from Anywhere: Request a car from any mobile phone—text message, iPhone and Android apps.
  • Ride with Style and Convenience: Within minutes, a professional driver in a sleek black car will arrive curbside.
  • Hassle Free Payment: Automatically charged to your credit card on file, tip included.
San Francisco Metro Transit Authority and the Public Utilities Commission required UberCab to cease their activity in San Francisco from October 20, 2010.

AirBnB did experience more or less the same injunction from New York State. This startup gave the opportunity for any person to offer bedrooms in their private house. Too dangerous for the hotel industry?

Crowdsourcing, user generated content and new web 2.0 technologies are transforming the travel industry. Innovative solutions enabling local point to point connections between local persons (sometimes non affiliated to any company) and travelers or people on the move is changing the way we think and act irremediably.

If it works for connecting people (Facebook, linkedin, etc.), dating, goods (ebay is a good example), for place checking (gowalla, foursquare, scavngr, etc.) and advertising, does it mean that it should work for all other business domains?

It seems that in North America and may be Europe it will not be the case. Travel industry, oil industry (create your own green oil for cars), energy (create your own energy), and music industry are fighting to avoid peer to peer paid transactions. The "man in the middle" does not want to be disintermediated. Of course, you can use Google Place, Facebook place, etc... But you need to be an officially registered "shop".

From regulators, those peer to peer micro local non professional suppliers are risky (how to ensure safety and security?) and it's not easy to recover taxes back from them. The main problem here is: you have to pay for the service. If it's free (inviting somebody to sleep in your home or sharing a car for free) it's not an issue. But asking money for it is not acceptable ... Not yet ... Micropayment or local virtual credit (outside the monetary system) could change the game in the future ...

That's also why France created the auto-entrepreneur professional status. It enables you to offer some services (strict listing is provided) and with a simplified tax system (all on Internet). So you're not really "somebody", you have a "shop" number and you could emit invoices. What is still regulated is the list of services you can offer.

Some people are even going further by doing research outside the academic realm. And not always basic research ... Some are interested in genomic research or cold fusion ... And their labs could be located in the any big city, in an apartment. Frightening isn't it?

The more technology will enable local (sometime instantaneous) communities to emerge and to be able to "exchange", the less people will care about the rest of the world and the official "shops". Local economy and local services are on the rise... and they want real "local" done by and for anybody.

Heh, I just got an idea. May be I can launch a startup to rent my unused car ... or my old bike ... or let people from my area print on my laser printer? Why selling them if I can earn money by renting them? Simple ideas are sometimes very disruptive ... Especially, if million of people are following it. Crowdsourcing and/or user generated conted are the key enabler ... for new way of doing commerce.