Steve Schlafman from RRE put together a great presentation called On Demand Everything. If you haven't checked it out, do it. I always appreciate when people share their great research. It's how we all move this thing forward.
I have reviewed his presentation a number of times. At Susa Ventures, we see a ton of companies building on demand services, and his presentation is always a great starting point when thinking about how a new business fits into the space. The key enabler to the on demand economy is the mobile phone.
Smart phones are relatively new. Although it seems like we have had them for decades, remember that the iPhone came out in 2007. Apps in the early days primarily just delivered content for this new platform; however as smart phone penetration reached a critical mass, building on demand services became viable. We are now at a point, where essentially overnight, a company can build a product and enable millions of people to book a car (Uber), book a cleaning (Homejoy), order some food (doordash), or get groceries delivered (Instacart).
While I think we are still in the early days of imagining and re-imagining what services can be changed with the advent of mobile, it's fun to look a step beyond that.
As a consumer, I am already starting to get lost in all the app choices. In the food delivery category alone, you can choose between doordash, munchery, zesty, spoonrocket, fresh direct, sprig, seamless, grubhub, etc. Add in the growing choices in home cleaning, dry cleaning, and grocery delivery and you start to get a bit overwhelmed.
I think there is a need for a 'service layer' for the on demand economy. Alfred is a great example of a company that can sit above all these great services and provide a unified customer experience, especially for more repeatable and recurring services.
There is a ton of value to capture if you can pull that off. The company that does will understand the customer better than anyone. What they eat, what they wear, how often they travel, etc. But it won't be easy.
Just last week, Uber went after 'supply side platform' Breeze. Although slightly different, it's a good example of the big on demand players wanting to own/collapse the entire value chain (as Steve writes in his presentation), and control the user experience end to end, including who is providing their service to customers.
I look forward to tracking this space and watching the emergence of the on demand economy's 'service layer'. Thanks Steve for starting the conversation.