Category winner:
Uber: A Next Generation Transportation
Company for Everyone

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This case won the Entrepreneurship category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2016
 
The case

uberWho – the protagonists

Travis Kalanick, CEO, who co-founded Uber with Garrett Camp.

What

Uber is not a conventional taxi business; it does not own any transport and none of the drivers are its employees. Instead, it takes the role of mediator, matching drivers and their cars with customers who need a taxi ride. Uber takes a percentage of the fare and drivers pay to be listed on the company’s app.

Why

New technology enabled Uber to provide an on-demand car service for registered users. Its free smartphone application (app) allows registered customers to book rides from independent car drivers. The app automatically notifies customers of available drivers and estimated arrival times. Payment is made automatically by credit card through an Uber account.

Whenuber

Uber, initially called UberCab, was founded in 2009 and by the end of 2011 had raised funding of $44.5 million. On August 28, 2014, Uber announced that it had launched its service in 24 new markets making it available in 205 cities across 45 countries. It also covered 55 percent of the US population with drivers in more than 100 US cities. UberRush29, a bike courier service, was also launched in 2014.

Where

Uber’s headquarters are in San Francisco, California, US.

Key quote

‘Today we are one step closer to our vision of UberEverywhere – a bold idea that no matter where you are, a reliable ride with Uber is just five minutes away.’ – Uber spokesperson, 2014

What next?

Uber’s early success has astonished many analysts. In an Uber-enabled world, every road and street becomes a virtual taxi stand. Uber claims it can meet demand from 43 per cent of Americans within five minutes. An independent study commissioned by Uber found that the company had an impact of $2.8 billion on the US economy. The company brought hundreds of thousands of drivers into its fold to grow at an aggressive pace. But what does the future hold? Can it sustain its initial success and continue to expand worldwide?

 
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Uber: A Next Generation Transportation Company for Everyone
Ref 815-002-1

Teaching note
Ref 815-002-8

The author

author

Vijay Kumar Gupta

Vijay explains what winning the award means to him and why Uber’s app-based approach is disrupting business models across many industries and market sectors.

Prestigious award

I am happy that my case has been accepted for this prestigious award and I am honoured to receive it.  This will encourage a number of academicians and practitioners to put in their best while writing a case that can be used for teaching MBA students internationally.

uberDisruptive technologies

This is a case about one of the biggest disruptive technologies in the modern world. Uber has provided a choice to customers across the globe that’s safe, customer friendly, clean and affordable.

The biggest advantage is that customers can choose the type of car they wish to travel in, at the time and place that suits them best – all within minutes of making a decision to travel. Uber also offers the transportation of anything, at any time, to any location, with full safety and tracking available at one’s fingertips through smartphones.

Wider lessonsuber

The logistics solutions illustrated in the case are widely applicable, be it to people, ice cream on demand, flowers, ready-to-eat food and even the delivery of a product from an e-commerce platform.

Uber’s app-based innovation is disrupting all businesses, and any attempt to block this service would probably meet stiff resistance from customers who now have a new-found freedom to choose. 

Case writing tips

The topic you want to write about must have a wide appeal and impact people in some way or the other. You must research the topic in depth both from secondary sources as well as primary research.

For example, I have taken over 200 rides on all app-based taxi services in various cities in India and abroad during the period I was writing this case. I had detailed conversations with almost all the drivers I travelled with and kept notes. I have studied the tactics adopted by Uber and other such companies to overcome obstacles as well as the risks the drivers and passengers had to face due to stiff opposition from taxi companies and city authorities.

Make your case simple and easy to read, avoiding difficult words and jargon. And finally, you will need patience as you test your case in the classroom and fine-tune it until you are fully satisfied.

Defining moments

Writing a case in a fast-moving industry is always challenging as by the time you have drafted the case there may be key developments that make much of the case redundant. However, even very fast-moving industries have some defining moments that provide great scope for exploration and learning with many teachable moments. The key is to look for such moments and fix the time of the case there. Instructors will then find the case interesting and useful even five, ten, or 15 years after it was written. 

About the authors

Vijay Kumar Gupta is a Professor at the Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, India. (Former CEO India, JMAM, JMA Group, Japan)
 

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