The importance of being…on time

miss the trainMy grandfather (whom I miss very much) used to say that opportunities are like the train: if you are not there on time, you’ll miss it. There’s timing for everything. Things that are too early might not work, things that are late lose first mover advantage. For a startup, timing is everything.

If you ever heard Mike Maples speak at a conference, for sure you’ve seen his Thunder Lizard keynote. Mike states that Thunder Lizard companies:

  1. thunder lizardDon’t happen by accident, they are truly hatched by atomic eggs
  2. They don’t compete, the eat their competitors and become the dominant players in the market
  3. They act on huge potential markets
  4. They are different, not necessarily better

I would modestly add to Mike’s list that they are able to detect early trends and are able to “be at the right place, at the right time.”

Last week, the SOCAP conference on the sharing economy was held in San Francisco. Some of the big names were there: Airbnb, Lyft and Uber. But there were a lot of newcomers as well, such as Chariot, SavySwap, Scoot (I definitely need to try this one) and Sidecar, just to name a few. The sharing economy, based on the idea that you might have a sub-utilised asset and that some company can help you monetise it, is a difficult proposition to resist. As this trend evolves, many new daring (and probably scary) propositions will be seen.

taskrabbit-representativeCome on, let’s be honest with each other…if five years ago I pitched you a company that would allow you to rent a room of your house (yes, a room in your house, where your wife and children live) to a total stranger that might end up being a serial killer, or If I told you that your daughter would be picked up by a driver (a driver whom no government agency has screened, a car that’s not been subject to any agency inspection) and might end up being a rapist…well probably you have told me then that I was crazy (or probably worse). But it so happens that  Airbnbing,hopping on Lyft rides, hiring TaskRabbits to do errands for you, inspecting retail stores with Gigwalk…is common these days, and becoming part of our everyday lives.

Sharing-economy companies are not just getting a lot of attention from consumers, but VCs are throwing lots of money at the sector at sky-high valuations.

In my last post, I explored what might be Facebook’s strategy to go into financial services. If you were to mix this strategy with the sharing economy, you might well have a very stupid idea…or just maybe, the next Thunder Lizard company that could disrupt the entire financial services industry.

Food for thought…

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