Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sidecar should have expanded into smaller markets

Sidecar closed down their operations on December 31, 2015. This former ridesharing player failed to keep pace with Uber and Lyft. What puzzles us is that Sidecar didn't have the decency to send a widespread email to notify their drivers of this closure. We accidentally located this closure in multiple newspapers reporting the end of the number #3 largest ridesharing company.

When we first heard about Sidecar entering the delivery service space, we knew this decision would eventually lead to their end. We remember Sidecar thriving in 2013 and 2014. Hundreds of drivers were motivated to drive on weekend nights and during commute times. In fact, Sidecar offered many good weekend promotions to reward their drivers.

Despite their noble effort, Sidecar lacked good management and leadership to understand that when you lead by example you must keep pressing forward instead of remaining stagnant. Uber and Lyft are secretly thanking Sidecar for their innovations, but probably won't make this public.

Unfortunately, moving further away from transporting people cost Sidecar big. Uber amassed the funding comparable to large corporations, whereas Sidecar just lacked in all categories except for their superior app. This Sidecar app gave drivers the freedom to filter out trips. This means their drivers would only receive trips they desired. People mattered most. Sidecar tried to escape driving people, the primary reason their ridesharing company launched into the ride space.

Uber hasn't considered revising their app to allow filter functionality. The only significant update: inputting a home address to populate rides along the way. This new feature is horrible because it eventually sends Uber drivers back to the first pickup address. Don't use this feature while in San Francisco and when there is high demand and rain pouring down. You'll never escape this gritty city.

Sidecar should have marketed their ridesharing app outside of large cities. If companies can't compete in larger markets, they should evaluate smaller markets to expand outward. Underfunded companies know better than to exhaust their resources against better funded competitors.

It is possible Sidecar could have thrived in smaller markets, but they focused too much on the larger picture. In this case, Sidecar's innovation paved the landscape to expand Uber and Lyft. Ultimately, Sidecar fell way behind because they mismanaged their marketing operations. They assumed people would spread the word and this would translate into long-term business.

Sidecar lost the ridesharing game. We all know that if Uber didn't launch UberX, maybe their overpriced services would have ceased operations. UberPool and UberX are making Uber relevant in the smaller and larger markets worldwide. Not every person can afford to pay exuberant prices to take a black car, SUV and/or to use Uber taxi services.

Sidecar had that special spark to succeed. They didn't shift into third, fourth and fifth gear. Eventually, Uber and Lyft closed the gap and took off. Thank Sidecar for opening up the doors to SFO. Uber is thriving because of this decision to allow ridesharing drivers to make pickups and drop-offs there. San Jose Airport desired to block Uber, but authorized a rideshare airport service, Wingz, to operate there. This decision opened doors for Uber to operate there, as well.  

All good things come to an end. Sidecar is a story that should inspire startups on what not to do. Don't adopt stagnancy into your daily mission. Press forward, look forward, think forward. Make your mark, make adjustments and make your name stick. People must know you, know your business. Reach out to your audience; make them feel special.

Thank you Sidecar for changing the ridesharing community. Your past fares would help drivers to make a living right now. Ridesharing is quickly becoming a minimum wage job. The real winners are riders receiving low-priced fares at the expense of personal drivers.