You don’t have to be a technology insider to know the world has been Uberized.
The reason ‘Uber-for-X’ companies are popping up like daisies is the sharing economy concept is both simple and revolutionary. Rare is it that a model works so well for people on both sides of a transaction, but that’s exactly what Uber-models do by creating low-friction marketplaces that earn the owner a little money for an underutilized asset – whether it’s a car, a basement room or their labor – while providing access at an affordable price to the buyer.
Because of the win-win nature of Uber models, it was only a matter of time before they ended up in the home kitchen. Not only are companies aspiring to give grannies and wannabe chefs a way to share their home cooking, but large appliance companies are beginning to explore ways to enable buyers of their products to share them via an Uber-like marketplace.
One of the Uber-for-kitchen concepts is Josephine, a platform for home cooks to feed people in their neighborhood. Sign up for Josephine as a customer, and you’ll find yourself chowing a neighbor’s chili and cornbread. The goal is to match cash-hungry home cooks with people who are hungry. However, while there is no shortage of home cooks and hungry people, the market narrows considerably when looking for folks willing to invite strangers into their home or buy food from a complete stranger. But, just as we saw with Uber, what once seems weird fast becomes the new normal when people begin to do it at scale.
Want to go on a food tour of Miami or Seoul? You can now book with local home cooks through Trips from Airbnb. The home sharing service company recently expanded more fully into dining and travel more with Trips, an evolution of the Airbnb Experiences program which the company launched into beta in 2014. This expansion allows for food to be offered as what is essentially a tourist package, where aspiring cooks can offer home cooked meals to travelers or local foodies can create food tours of local cities.
Electrolux is exploring the Uber concept for home appliances. While the company CEO initially mentioned they were toying with the idea of Uber for washing machines, their out-of-the-box thinking could also include dishwashers and even stoves.
Appliance sharing is still in its early days, but as I wrote a few weeks ago, manufacturers are evaluating how connectivity and smarts to can enable new business models. They’ve watched as smart devices reinvented a whole slew of industries from travel to home security to transportation, and are exploring how they can transform themselves from makers of metal boxes into trusted service providers using the same foundational technologies. By creating a sharing platform, these companies could make themselves more indispensable by not only enabling a new way to purchase fractional access to appliances but by also creating business opportunities for their consumers.
And while I’ve yet to see an Uber-for-kitchen company for renting out an entire kitchen, it’s only a matter of time. After all, if you can rent a single room in a home to sleep in, why not rent a kitchen to cook a meal? At least that way, you might be able to skip going home to that weird uncle of your’s for the holiday meal.