Why Uber Is Successful

Uber has quickly become one of the most recognizable and controversial brands in the world. Originating in 2009, the San Francisco ride sharing service connects riders and drivers with its easy to use app, making it simple to grab a ride without the indignity of trying to find a cab in the middle of the night. Catering to the tech savvy crowd, it quickly gained early adopters who spread the word of a new and better way to travel through online blogs and publications. News outlets soon caught wind. Gone was the era of overpriced cabs, replaced by it was a sleek black sedan, discreetly greeting the designated traveler at the side of the curb.

Uber is impressive not because it hasn’t experienced any missteps during its nearly seven year reign as the go to ride sharing service (it has been accused of surge prices during crisis situations, and drivers have been charged for sexually attacking female passengers, cities have banned the service, criticizing it for being “illegal” not to mention its many contentious battles with the taxi industry.) Uber is impressive because of the way it managed to challenge the status quo and still come out on top despite an increasingly crowded and competitive space. Don’t want to grab an Uber? How about a Lyft instead? BTW Google wants in on the whole ride-sharing thing too. A huge amount of Uber’s capital goes directly to setting up a local presence in many cities and arming a fleet (mind the pun) of lawyers to do battle with one municipality at a time. They have managed to set themselves apart from the pack, cultivating a brand that is deemed cool, giving its drivers decent cash flow so they can ‘pursue their dreams’ and providing riders with a superior ride sharing experience.

Below are just a few ways Uber has been successful in growing and expanding its business

1. Identifying a need and providing a stellar experience

Great businesses are able to identify a customer need and form an agile solution. Uber was able to recognize how customers felt cabs were over-priced, and not only that, didn’t do a good job of creating a solid customer service. With Uber, integrated with Google Maps, a rider was able to see, in real-time, how many Uber drivers were nearby, how long they would take to get to the rider’s destination, and even chose what type of vehicle they wanted for a far more reasonable price. This app allowed riders to customize their transportation experience and was incredibly efficient for those in a hurry. And to make things even better and really provide that ‘wow’ factor that encourages repeat business, Uber also implemented a review system that made riders and drivers accountable for creating a solid transportation experience. Hate having to fiddle around for change at the end of a ride? No problem. Uber’s default payment method is online payment after you link your credit card information to their app.

2. Use of influencer marketing to develop brand

While the initial wave of early adopters were fanatical in their praise about Uber being the modern way to get around, Uber recognized how this praise could be short lived and also invested a lot of money in marketing and promoting their service. One of the methods was to target online influencers to uphold not only the brand but sell others on the lifestyle of calling and riding in an Uber. They targeted the fashion elite, good looking urbanites hitting up Starbucks before calling up an Uber, designer heels sneaking into their Instagram shots before praising the service for getting them to their destination on time. These highly visual testimonials encouraged others to follow the pack and made Uber the cool way to travel.

3. Recognizing when to cut their losses

This may sound counterintuitive, but it sometimes pay off to realize when you can’t win against a competitor and bow out gracefully. After trying to gain traction in China, Uber finally conceded to Didi, their biggest competitor in the region, after losing 2 billion in only 2 years. Despite the company’s many efforts to learn about China’s history and culture, and an accompanying marketing campaign believed to address and cater to their needs, their efforts were met with lukewarm interest. As a result of the merger with Didi, Uber received a $1 billion dollar investment to expand its operations elsewhere. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick was able to recognize that its need to gain profitability in China was putting its global operations in jeopardy and decided to pivot, focusing on other opportunities that will help bring in revenue.

4. Be ubiquitous

If you need an Uber, you could open up the app but there is also a variety of other ways you can request a ride. You can access Uber through Facebook messenger by downloading an Uber app, request one on your Apple Watch or even through Microsoft Outlook. Uber’s ubiquity gives it an edge over competitors. You can call up an Uber on your smartphone, or a tablet, even at a desktop computer. By releasing apps for nearly every single type of operating system and platform, it becomes increasingly more available to the public and that much harder to ignore despite new competitors.

5. Don’t be afraid of growth

Having a robust fleet of vehicles at their disposal, positions Uber to do way more than transport riders. They can also transport food (Ubereats), puppies, flowers, the possibilities are well…endless. There is always potential for growth and Uber isn’t afraid to explore other avenues, making it truly disruptive not only when it comes to the ride-sharing economy but also how a business should operate as a whole.

Today Uber is valued at $3.76 billion and operates in over 77 countries worldwide. It’s hard to believe that only a few years ago that the yellow cab was a ubiquitous form of transportation in urban cities. Will it be replaced by a sea of black vehicles in a few years? Has it already?

To learn more about Uber's quick rise have a look at our infographic. And make sure to subscribe to our blog to read more start-up success stories.