A few years ago, ‘startup’ wasn’t even a word, but these days you can’t open a magazine, journal or browser window without reading about a new venture, set up by an enterprising optimist hoping to launch the Next Big Thing.
These companies may on the surface appear diverse, but most of them – from car service Uber, to home/room renting app Airbnb, to takeaway-pick-up people Deliveroo – are basically providing us with ‘lifehacks’: ways to make our lives simpler, using already existing infrastructure.
Bucking the trend of recent decades for prioritizing technology and cutting out the human element of business, these startups put the emphasis on recruiting people, not machines. As Christopher Mims wrote in the Wall Street Journal on 8 March, “billion-dollar startups are being built not on gains in productivity made possible by eliminating humans, but by their wholesale recruitment” (www.wsj.com/articles/at-startups-people-are-new-infrastructure-1425858978).
Interestingly, this new trend takes us back a century or two, to the days when employing people to run your errands, clean your clothes or lug your shopping was commonplace. As a way to combat mass unemployment and increase productivity, these new startups look set to multiply.
So why not let startups ‘lifehack’ for you, leaving you more time for work and play?
3 startups that can save you hassle:
Perfect shirts every day
Collar Club’s monthly subscription delivers made-to-order Jermyn-Street quality shirts to your door, freshly laundered and pressed each week, for £3.17 a day. The CC aims “to free up more of your precious time, by removing the chores and hassle of having to look after your shirts.”
The Uber of parcel delivery
Fed up of paying through the nose for the big delivery players like Fed Ex and UPS? Want to send large and bulky items? Introducing Roadie, the neighbour-to-neighbour shipping network. So far only available in the US, Roadie connects a sender with a driver who is headed to the same destination as the sender’s parcel. The driver picks up the parcel and drops it off on his/her way, for a fraction of the cost of big companies, whilst “doing green deeds for the planet by reducing packing materials and keeping another delivery truck off the road.”
Scrap your washing machine
You’ve heard of video-on-demand, now Londoners can get laundry-on-demand, courtesy of new app ZipJet. Have your laundry collected, washed or dry-cleaned, and returned to you within 24 hours. A 6kg bag of washing will set you back £12.50, dry cleaning costs £10 for a two-piece suit, and for £1.75 you can get a shirt washed and ironed. Founder Dr Marco Sperling says: “We’re all short on time and too much domestic work keeps us from doing what we love. Saving our customers time for things in life that really matter is what drives us.”