Ev Williams – also known as the founder of this weird little company called Twitter – spoke at the XOXO conference in Portland recently about how to get rich online. While we all want to think that coming up with the new, innovative thing is the way to do it, Williams pointed out that the real moneymakers aren’t the guys coming up with crazy cool new products.
They’re simply the guys (and girls) who are figuring out how to do the things everyone is already doing but, you know, better.
Williams cited Uber (the distinctly tech-age taxi service) as an example of a company that has taken an old problem (getting from point A to point B) and applied a new solution to it. Uber is definitely a great example and it got me thinking: Who else is following the new solution/old problem model?
Or, another way to put it, how can I be as lazy as possible?
Shyp, The Uber of Snail Mail
I hate sending things in the mail. I hate it so much it’s almost pathological. Don’t ever ask me to send you anything, because it just won’t happen. You will be waiting forever and ever and ever or at least until the next time I see you in person because I seriously just can’t bring myself to go to the post office. I also can’t ever order anything online because I know that I’ll never send it back if it’s not right.
These are obviously SERIOUS PROBLEMS.
As a result of this crippling hatred of the post office, I was so pumped when I found out about Shyp. With this service, all you have to do is take a picture of the item you want shipped and a driver will come pick it up, package it, and mail it for you and it only costs $5 plus the postage fee.
I just… I can’t even. It’s like they read my mind.
Prim, The Uber of Dirty Underwear
A couple of years ago, when I was still living in NYC, I did my laundry in the first week of December and discovered that my Halloween costume was at the bottom of the laundry hamper. Before you go assuming that I’m just a filthy, filthy human being I’d like to point out that, a) I own a lot of clothing, especially underwear, b) I now wash my clothing at least every two weeks, if not more frequently, probably because my boyfriend would kill me if I didn’t.
The reason I found myself in that predicament is because the only thing I hate more than the post office is doing laundry. I spend probably three days every week just pumping myself up for the ordeal that is getting all of my clothing clean.
Prim is a laundry pickup service that is currently only available in San Francisco, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park but is looking to expand soon. All you have to do is select whether you want morning or evening pickup and then wait for the text telling you that they’re on their way. If you don’t feel like waiting, you can leave your garbage bag full of dirty clothing with your doorman (‘cause you’re fancy like that) or even give them a key to come into your apartment and pick it up.
While I’m all about convenience (duh), that last bit seems kinda strange to me but hey, it’s not my job to tell other people what they should or shouldn’t be comfortable with.
The cost is a little steep – $25 for the first bag and $15 for each bag after that – and I’m cheaper than most people, so normally I’d just keep battling with my willpower and do my laundry myself. However, considering the fact that I’m actually writing this article from a laundromat and I just found out that I fucked up and my dryer didn’t start, which means I have to sit here for 20 more minutes…
Maybe it’s worth the cost.
These are two great examples of companies who are taking on problems that a large number of people hate and coming up with ways to serve those markets. What other ones do you guys know about? Drop me a line in the comments and maybe I’ll cover them in an upcoming article.