Uberpreneurship: the newest form of entrepreneurship

Recent years has showed a significant increase in research done in the fields of entrepreneurship (Hulsink, 2013). It hasn’t been too long since the RSM has set up the Erasmus Centre of Entrepreneurship, which is now an important incubator for Rotterdam’s student entrepreneurs. Also, there is a course in the BA curriculum called ‘Orientatie op ondernemen’ (translation: Orientation on entrepreneurship’), which is a success and therefore will be implemented in the IBA curriculum in 2018 as well (Meijdam, 2015).
Other than the RSM, globally there have been an increasing number of new theories involved with entrepreneurship. Proof for this is that most of these theories aren’t older than ten years (Hulsink, 2013). Being a RSM student and having some great experiences while following ‘Orientatie op ondernemen’, I now feel it is my responsibility to increase insights in some of the newer forms of entrepreneurship.

Combine Uber, the new international transportation company for taxis, private cars and ridesharing with entrepreneurship. Uberpreneurship is exactly what the name suggests. A clear definition would be the following; registered Uber users who use their rides with customers to promote secondary and personal products.

There are several creative uberpreneurs out there with a variety of businesses. The most famous one must be Gavin Escolar, who claims to earn over $252,000 dollars per year. His business consists of selling jewellery, which he displays all around the car (e.g. dashboard, mirrors etc.) and wears himself. Selling jewellery is how he earns his money next to his normal job as a taxi driver. This is quite a case, as he claims that his earnings per month consist of $3,000 for his normal services as a taxi driver next to $18,000 through selling jewellery.
Second, there have also been many reportings of real estate agents showcasing properties in their cars. Third, there is also a company which you can join as an Uber driver called It Works selling their health and beauty products. This has been a web shop for the majority of its life, but decided that having Uberpreneurs driving around and promoting their products would be a nice additional to their business.

What is Uber’s take on all of this?
The first question that pops in your head right now is if this is allowed by Uber, isn’t it? Clearly, Uber doesn’t profit at all from these side-businesses of their drivers. And what if customers would get annoyed by drivers who happen to turn out to be pushy salesmen?

However, Uber is very much aware of Uberpreneurs and is actually promoting ‘Uberpreneurship’. In a response to the question whether Uber was fine with these side-businesses, Uber spokeswoman Kristin Carvell says: “One of the greatest things about the Uber platform is that it offers economic opportunity for a variety of drivers — full-time, part-time, veterans, teachers, artists, and students — in more than 260 cities around the world. Supporting and fueling the local economy is important to Uber and our driver partners help us to achieve this goal.” Besides, Uber is build around customer reviews. If for any reason the experience would be unpleasant, this will definitely result in a low rating which would negatively impact their business.

Uberpreneurship: theory
Since we now know that Uber is fine with this and there are some successful Uberpreneurs out there, let’s find out what it takes to become one yourself.
Uberpreneurship seems pretty straight-forward. It is basically using your car as a storefront. But what products and services could be successfully promoted in a car?

• Lucrative margin – Product needs to allow you to make a margin which is worth the effort you put in selling your goods.
• Quality – Since Uber has a customer rating system which is the core of the Uber concept, it wouldn’t be wise to sell low quality products as it would affect your rating.
• Easily displayable – A car wouldn’t allow for the selling of oversized products such as home interior products. Products could however be displayed in a catalogue
So these are some of the criteria I thought of. I think Uberpreneurship has great potential as you get to pitch pretty much anything to anyone. Also, the time you get with each customer allows you to truly find out the preferences and interests of each person. I’m interested to see if we can work out more criteria or examples of potential Uber-businesses. To get you started, here are some of the other examples I thought of which could definitely be incorporated in successful Uber businesses.

• Selling concert tickets by listening to music of bands which happen to play in town
• Selling new gadgets
• Selling gifts
• Selling monthly subscriptions (e.g. HelloFresh, Dollar Shave Club, magazines)
• Selling personal services (e.g. massages, beauty treatments)

Meijdam, A. (2015) Minutes 168th Faculty Council Meeting. Rotterdam School of Management, 01 June, 2015.
Hulsink, W. (2013) Lectures Orientatie op Ondernemen. Rotterdam School of Management
It Works (2015) As found on http://healthwealthkit.com/
Youshaei, J. (2015) The Uberpreneur: How An Uber Driver Makes $252,000 A Year. Forbes, February 4, 2015


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