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