The Days of 'Uber-for-X' May Be Over

On-demand laundry service Washio is only the most recent "Uber-for-X" startup to shut down.

September 22, 2016, 8:00 AM PDT

By Elana Eden


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Inked Pixels / Shutterstock

Washio, an app through which users request on-demand laundry service, pick-up, and drop-off, recently announced it had permanently closed operations.

The Santa Monica-based startup garnered millions in investments when it launched in 2013. As Alison Griswold recalls in Quartz:

Those years were peak Uber-for-X, as entrepreneurs raced to replicate the formula that was working so well for the ride-hailing industry: using a smartphone app to connect customers with legions of independently contracted task-doers.

But the wild popularity, and profitability, of ride-hailing apps did not necessarily translate as well as hoped to an "instant-anything" model.

Unlike Uber, which gave consumers a better ride option than taxis at a cheaper price, these laundry [and other] apps are and were middlemen selling convenience at a premium, and for a service most people use far less frequently than transportation.

"Even 'asset-light' businesses can be cash-intensive to run," Griswold notes; many such startups initially relied on a subsidy-heavy model that has since become "untenable." She names ten more on-demand startups that have failed to compete with traditional services—suggesting the Uber-for-X bubble may have popped.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 in Quartz

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