The Uber of Things
Somewhere along the line “there’s an app for that” got replaced by “the Uber of X.”
And there is a $40-billion dollar reason for that.
By being in the business of connections, and facilitating the transaction of taxis and limos across the globe, Uber created a GPS-enabled freelancers economy, carving our a $40-billion slice for themselves.
At the same time, Silicon Valley became ground zero for new services for those with a lot of money and not a lot of time to do things like shop, clean or take care of pets. Some of those ideas have been exported to other cities like Toronto and Vancouver, while others have started similar ideas locally.
In San Francisco, for example, you can have someone arrive at your office with a massage table while another person washes and folds your laundry and stocks the fridge. The options aren’t as bountiful north of the border, but some convenience is available for those willing to pay the price.
This app is from Uber, so it tops our list. It takes advantage of a normally slow time for its Uber cab drivers: the lunch hour. A small menu of food is available, but it's not your average food court fare, instead it is artisan sandwiches and spicy Thai curries priced around $10 to $15. For a $3 delivery charge, the food arrives at the curb outside your building. There's no need to tip, and as is an Uber tradition, the entire transaction happens in the app and ends up on your credit card statement. Rest assured, if everyone wants lunch, there is no surge pricing. Not yet, at least.
If you're like many city dwellers, you probably don't know most of your neighbours. So how are you going to find a local babysitter to give you and your partner a one-night pass out of the house away from the kids? DateNight is exactly that.
The app's creators Skype interview the prospective babysitters, before they're added to the available roster. Both the babysitter and the parents need to give references in order to access the service, and parents can set up a meeting with their new babysitter through the app (but in person) ahead of time.
There isn’t much in the way of insurance: the app’s creators step away from the transaction, which can be made with a credit card, and say the onus on the parents to evaluate the sitter's capabilities before leaving them with their child.
For those with weird hours, or no time at all to make the 8 p.m. closing time of your local drycleaner, this is for you. Alfred lockers are popping up in apartments and condos around downtown Toronto, allowing residents to drop their clothes and shoes off dirty in the locker, only to open the same metal door 48 hours later to clean shirts and buffed shoes. After dropping off your clothes, you enter a four-digit code to lock it and let Alfred know your clothes need cleaning through the app. No locker? No problem. Alfred will pick up clothes at your concierge, just use the app to set up a time and location.
Handy is not just a cleaning service available to those in Toronto and Vancouver. While it can book you a maid for the next day if you’re in a pinch, it will also book someone to mount your TV, paint your living room, unclog drains and a whole lot more. It books nearly all handyman functions, and even helps you move. It all comes at a cost. A 3-hour cleaning, recommended for this scribe's two bedroom, one bath apartment, is $81. When you get a quote, a list of available times pop up, with the option to set a reoccurring time. If you change your mind, you can cancel for free with 24 hours notice. Laundry costs you extra, but the app gives you the sense that anything around the house that you don't want to do, they'll find someone to do it for a price.
Have a second property you list on AirBnB? Or maybe you’re off to travel the globe for the next six months? Either way, if you use AirBnB but don’t have the time to manage your listing, Guesty will take care of everything for you. They’ll arrange times with your cleaner, or find one, even last minute. They give your guests directions from the airport and send restaurant listings. They even have a 24-hour concierge and hotline, and optimize the price of your listing for more guests. Their cut is 3% of what you make, no matter what you charge for your property. It’s a small price to pay to make money while you’re in the south of France, or just stuck at the office.
Who’s On Now
When you need an electrician, plumber, tutor, to landscapers – whatever the service may be, Who’s On Now wants you to skip the Google search and find out who is working close to you, right now. The app allows merchants to list their services in the app and using a location-based list, users find the closest available merchant. Wait times are tracked inside the app, so customers can see how quickly a merchant responds to a request, and select their merchant accordingly. The idea is to create instant customers, and to handle the transaction inside the app itself.
Medeo (Equinoxe Life Care)
If you have ever wanted to visit the doctor from your own home, this is for you. Using the Medeo platform, Equinoxe Life Care allows patients in British Columbia (with valid provincial healthcare coverage) to sign up and see a doctor on their phone or tablet. A doctor may not be able to take a stethoscope to your heart, but they will be able to renew a prescription or get a referral to a specialist without missing half a day of work.