Tusimple postal service

USPS Starts New Self-Driving Truck Pilot, Didi Chuxing Makes Car Charging Cheaper

This Week in On Mobility – May 31, 2019

This week, USPS begins experimenting with self-driving trucks for long distance routes, Didi Chuxing secures charging discount for its drivers, and Uber starts banning riders.

USPS Begins Testing Long Distance Autonomous Truck Pilot Program

The United States Postal Service (USPS) officially began a self-driving truck pilot last week with the help of on demand logistics company TuSimple.

While fully autonomous vehicles are not yet a reality, companies like Phantom Auto and TuSimple are coming up with innovative ways to solve current issues, including a shortage of trained drivers to move freight and manage commercial vehicles.

“Autonomous technology can start addressing the driver shortage now and stabilize future workforce needs,” said Robert Brown, Head of Government Relations and Public Affairs for TuSimple.

“Since shippers and fleets don’t have enough drivers to move their goods, they aren’t buying trucks to meet their real demand. Autonomous trucks allow shippers and fleets to increase capacity,” Brown continued.

Market analysts believe the global autonomous truck market will reach $26 billion in 2027. A PwC study predicts these technologies will reduce annual operating costs for a traditional long-haul truck by 28% in 2025.

Long-haul trucking is the perfect area to begin testing autonomous logistics technologies. Not only will this help with the current driver shortage, but the data collected from this two-week pilot program will give TuSimple insight to create even better autonomous vehicle technologies. The company plans to have its first fully autonomous commercial truck available within five years.

Didi Chuxing Secures Electric Car Charging Discount for Millions of Drivers

Didi Chuxing drivers can now get a discount on charging their electric cars through China’s largest power company, State Grid.

Since Didi Chuxing is China’s largest ride-hailing app, the deal will substantially increase revenue for the country’s largest operator of electric charging stations. There are approximately 50,000 charging stations operated by State Grid, and the company plans to increase that number to over 10,000 by the end of the year.

The deal comes as Toyota ponders investing $548 million into Didi Chuxing. By adding increased benefits to drivers, more drivers are likely to sign up, making Didi a more attractive investment for Toyota.

Uber to Start Banning Low-Rated Riders

The recent driver strikes made Uber realize that drivers are not a commodity. In an effort to create warm and fuzzies between Uber and the company’s drivers, a new education campaign will focus on ratings improvement. Low-rated Uber riders are subject to losing access to the app if they do not improve their scores.

Low-rated Uber drivers have always been subject to losing their job, but riders have never had any consequences for low ratings.

The education campaign will provide in-app messages that inform Uber riders how to improve their rating. According to Uber, riders will have multiple opportunities to up their rating before being banned from using the app.

Even though a government agency recently ruled that Uber drivers are indeed contractors and not employees, this is a big improvement in driver relations. By promoting an environment of mutual respect between driver and rider, Uber will continue to improve as a company and may even turn a profit sooner than analysts predict.

Ride Report Receives Seed Funding to Help Governments Track Mobility Rides

As the mobility and micro mobility sectors continue to partner with US government agencies, the need for tracking data on locations and rides increases.

Government agencies need access to both real-time and historical data in order to make decisions about a variety of safety and legislative concerns, as well as ensure operators are in compliance with program requirements.

Startup Ride Report responded to this need by developing software to provide real-time data and reports from MDS-compliant operators like Bird and Lime. The company has tracked over 130 million miles of data so far, and recently raised $3.4 million in seed funding.

According to the Ride Report website, its Premium service allows cities to “conduct regular data-based audits, fee reconciliation, performance-based vehicle caps, and program evaluation reports.”

Two Schools Partner in Advanced Mobility Curriculum

A joint study between the Detroit Mobility Lab and the Boston Consulting Group estimate there will be 100,000 new mobility employees needed in the next decade.

Michigan Mobility Institute and Wayne State University have partnered to create the world’s first advanced mobility training program.

As traditional automobiles have slowly started converting to smart vehicles, the auto industry has evolved as well. Data scientists, computer engineers, and highly trained workers are needed to power the cars of tomorrow.

The “Master of Mobility” program will begin to address this skills gap when it opens its doors in 2021.


Uber driver renting apartment

Meeting Rental Application Requirements As Rideshare Or Delivery Driver

Trying to rent an apartment as a young Uber, Lyft, or Doordash driver can be quite tricky. If you’re on the younger side, you likely do not have an extensive rental history. So this means that you do not have a lot of previous landlords that you can list as references when you’re applying for rentals. Younger people also have little credit and minimal credit history.

A lot of younger people are also single, which means they are going to be the only names that the landlords look at on the application. When two people are applying for a rental property, such as a couple, their dual income often makes it easier for them to meet any specified income requirements. Doing so can be more difficult with only one income to report.

No matter where you are in the US, most landlords require some income verification and a credit check at a minimum. For the income verification aspect, landlords mainly want to see proof of a consistent and reliable income. Many property managers expect evidence that you are making two-to-three times the rental cost monthly. Many freelancers have slow months, so showing a consistent income similar to that of a W-2 employee can be difficult. While proving that you have a reliable income as a freelancer can be difficult, it usually just takes a bit more creativity and a bit more effort to meet the property owner’s rental requirements.

Gather Your Information

If possible, gather up all your old check stubs and the last several months of invoices from your previous freelancing jobs. Feel free to black-out any private customer information. Make copies of the past year’s tax returns. Print out your current monthly bank statements. If your freelancing income has slow months or is somewhat sporadic, you can show the landlord several months worth of statements rather than have them focus on one month only. Providing three months worth of bank statements is often standard practice for rental companies.

Be sure to cover-up any private and unnecessary information on the bank statement print out. If you operate a business bank account, be sure to print out a monthly statement for these accounts too. You can also print out any relevant transfers from your business bank accounts to your personal accounts as well.

The key is to stay flexible and work with the property owners to clarify all of the proof of income that you can provide. Sure you might have to get creative, but there are usually always several ways to show that you make enough money to pay the required rent. Aside from considering traditional income verification methods like showing bank statements, tax returns, and recent invoices, there are other ways that you can prove your income to rental companies.

If you do freelance work for clients in addition to driving rideshare or delivery, one thing you can do is show any recent deal memos or any signed letters from clients.

Consider An Apartment Broker

Preparing all the relevant personal financial documents and presenting them to local property management companies can take a lot of time and effort. As a freelancer with a unique situation, you may want to consider having a broker assist you. The broker will prepare all of your financial documents and put them together in an attractive presentation. Brokers will communicate with local landlords about your situation, and they will find out if all of the papers that you can provide as a freelancer will be acceptable or not. While paying for a broker can be an unexpected rental cost, they can save you lots of time and money on things like visiting tons of different properties and paying multiple rental application fees.

Even with all this extra work and creativity, some landlords will not give you the time of day simply because you don’t have a signed letter from a company that proves steady employment. At least now you know you’re not entirely out of luck if you are trying to rent an apartment or home as a freelancer. In any given area there are usually plenty of rental options available to Freelancers. Freelancers may not always be able to get every apartment or house they want. Unlike W-2 employees, Freelancers do not usually have the luxury of renting from whoever and renting wherever they want.

Perhaps the one tip that most people in the freelancing business world will tell you is that you should always try to work with private landlords first. Large property management companies usually have stricter rental requirements than private landlords. However, finding private landlords can be difficult in specific areas.

Another final thing to consider would be offering to pay for an extra month or two in advance. Landlords might feel more confident and secure renting to a freelancer who can do so. However, this involves the tenants taking a bit of a risk on the rental property. Many things can go wrong in a month, and it may be difficult to get that money back that you paid in advance if you have to move from the apartment area suddenly.



New Uber Eats Service Coming, Maven Pulling Out, Voom Insures Scooters

This Week in Mobility ― May 24, 2019

This week, an IT expert discovers code for a new Uber Eats service within the app, GM’s carshare service Maven is pulling out of several cities, and Voom now offers insurance for eScooter and mobility trip rentals.

IT Expert Discovers New Uber Eats Service

Reverse-engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong stumbled upon new code in the Uber app that suggests a new service is coming to Uber Eats.

Uber Eats Pass would charge customers $9.99 per month for unlimited food delivery. The service is similar to Postmates Unlimited and DoorDash DashPass. As Uber struggles to gain ground in the food delivery service space, this new service would provide a much-needed boost to the company, which has yet to figure out how to turn a profit.

TechCrunch suggested this new service lays the groundwork for a future “Uber Prime” service that combines ridesharing with food delivery. As competition continues to grow for Uber in both the rideshare and food delivery sectors, a hybrid service with a competitive monthly fee would be just the type of innovation it needs to remain ahead of the competition.

scUber Service to Donate Money to Great Barrier Reef Conservation

In other Uber news, the company is using a rideshare submarine service to raise money for conservation efforts from May 27 to June 18.

The service is called scUber and will provide Australian Uber customers with a guided tour of the Great Barrier Reef. Uber is partnering with Tourism and Events Queensland to provide customers with a one-of-a-kind tour and donate money to charities actively involved in conservation.

Uber states it will donate over $68,000 dollars to Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s unclear how much individual trips will cost and how many customers will be able to participate in the program.

As Uber struggles with protests from drivers and a much lower valuation than originally predicted, reputation-boosting programs like this one will likely become the norm. Stocks for Uber closed at $41.25 per share on May 22.

New Company Provides Mobility Insurance Services

As the mobility sector begins to grow, the number of accidents involving eScooters, ebikes and other alternative modes of transportation is also on the rise. Paris banned the use of eScooters on city sidewalks a couple of months ago and is threatening to ban the vehicles altogether.

The number of accident-related injuries is so bad the CDC is investigating the issue.

That’s where Voom comes in. To help combat the rising costs associated with eScooter injuries and property damage, Voom provides coverage for rider and third-party injuries, as well as property damage.

Coverage is available on a per-trip basis for any mobility trip, including eScooters, bikes, drones, small planes, and more.

The company launched on Wednesday and has scored $5 million in funding from Verizon Ventures, Arbor Ventures, F2 Capital, Kaedan Capital, and Plug and Play Ventures.

As many cities around the world tighten regulations on mobility rides, they may begin to require riders to carry these temporary insurance policies in the future.

Maven to Discontinue Service in Eight Cities

Only three years after its initial launch, GM’s car sharing service Maven has decided to pull out of eight cities.

It’s unclear which cities the service will stop operating in, but a Maven spokesperson stated that GM conducted a market-by-market analysis to make the decision.

Maven began in 2016 as a car-sharing service similar to Zipcar. Since then, it has expanded to allow GM owners to rent their cars to drivers similar to Turo or Getaround.

GM is confirming what many investors already believe: that there isn’t a way to make ridesharing profitable in the long-term worldwide. By focusing on the areas where business is best, perhaps GM can come up with a way to make ridesharing profitable for smaller markets in the future.

Maven Gig, a service that provides rentals to rideshare and on demand delivery drivers, will not be affected by these decisions.

NYC Lyft Customers Can Now Rent Bikes Through the Lyft App

After beta-testing bike rental on the Lyft app for 20 percent of its customers, Lyft now allows all customers to rent Citi Bikes through the Lyft app.

Lyft bought Motivate in July 2018, a bike sharing company that oversaw bike share programs for local governments, including Citi Bikes in New York City.

Citi Bikes is the largest bike share program in the United States, with over 12,000 bikes and 150,000 riders. Lyft has committed to invest $100 million in the service over the next five years to add 12 valet stations and bring the number of bikes available to 90,000.

In addition to renting Citi Bikes in New York City, Lyft customers can also use the Lyft app to get bikes in Washington, DC; Santa Monica, CA; and Los Angeles.

With tougher regulations on scooter rides and the rise in scooter-related injuries, bikes may be poised for a comeback sooner than later.


Uber Memorial Day

Driving Uber Or Lyft Over Memorial Day Weekend – Driver Pro Tips

Memorial Day weekend means different things to different people. For some, it’s a day of commemoration and remembrance. For others, it’s a festive three day weekend, and the unofficial start to summer.

One thing is certain though. Memorial Day weekend is chock full of activities that get people out of the house. Whether it’s to a concert or festival, a parade or ceremony, or a sale, people tend to go out more than usual.

So, what’s it like to drive Uber or Lyft over Memorial Day weekend? It’s generally a bit busier than your normal weekend, but with an extra day of weekend level earning on Memorial Day Monday. Even so, it’s usually not quite as busy as driving over July 4th.

What To Expect Driving For Uber Or Lyft Around Memorial Day

The Thursday before memorial day should be steady, if not busy. A lot of people go out of town for the weekend, so expect a higher than average number of airport runs starting Thursday afternoon. Both the Friday and Monday should be particularly lucrative for Lyft and Uber XL drivers. Thursday evening should be a bit busier than normal as there’s always a few people who take the Friday before the holiday off, or just start the holiday weekend a little early.

During the day on Friday, Uber and Lyft traffic should be steady, with a higher number of airport trips. Friday evening should be like most busy Friday evenings when driving Lyft or Uber, but more so. More people tend to go out when they know they have the next Monday off.

If you drive during the day on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, expect to do a lot of rides to and from stores, as people head to the sales. You’ll also have people going to friends houses for barbecues and parties, and people going to attend parades.

Check Event And Parade Schedules & Locations

Check the actual dates and locations of the parades in your area. The various parades and ceremonies may happen on the Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Knowing when and where the activities are happening in your area will help you avoid getting caught in parade traffic. Knowing the times can help you position yourself to pick up riders going to and from the parades. Also, check the parade routes so you know where you’ll be able to actually drive. Knowing the routes also lets you know if you will be able to pick a passenger. During parades, it’s not always possible to get to every pick up request.

The weekend is also big for concerts and festivals, so check to see when and where the big concerts are happening in your city.

What To Expect Driving Rideshare On Memorial Day

Memorial Day morning will be a bit slower than your average Monday. Most people will be off of work, so the usual morning rush hour will be pretty light. Starting around 11am, things should start to pick up.

Any Special Preparations?

Unlike driving New Year’s eve, you really shouldn’t have to do anything different when driving Memorial Day weekend. However, some drivers keep a bath towel in the trunk. Sometimes passengers are bringing prepared foods over to their friends for a barbecue. While the food is generally in a sealed container, it doesn’t hurt to put a towel underneath it, either in the trunk or on the floor of the backseat. If the container is jostled, or some food drops out, it’ll spill on the towel instead of directly on the interior of your car.

Other drivers may keep some bottles of water in the car, even if they don’t normally. The reason is that with the various parades and ceremonies, there will be a higher number of elderly passengers over the weekend. A lot of them will have been sitting in the sun for much of the day, and may be dehydrated.

If you choose to drive over the weekend, stay safe, and drive defensively and profitably!


Self Driving Car

10 VC Firms Funding Self Driving Research You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

As self-driving cars have become more of a reality and less of a science fiction prop, global VC firms are stepping up to invest funds in the next big wave of the future. Investors are pouring cash into companies developing mapping software and firms creating cutting-edge navigation programs for brand-new fleets of autonomous cars. While you’ve probably heard of Waymo, Tesla, and the BMW – Mercedes partnership, there are actually hundreds of companies working and investing in self driving technologies worldwide.  Here are 10 VC firms getting a jump on the future by investing in self-driving cars.

1. IDG Capital

When the prestigious VC firm announced in October 2017 that they were beginning a significant $1.5 billion push to fund autonomous vehicle startups, the tech community stood up and took notice. Within a two-month period, they raised over $330 million for Xiaopeng Motors in its run-up to the release of the G3 SUV crossover. More recently, IDG raised $112 million for Pony.ai’s self-driving platform and funded Kuandeng’s high definition mapping technology.

2. Maniv Mobility

Since 2015, Michael Granoff’s Israeli VC firm has been targeting and funding promising autonomous vehicle startups worldwide. The company has poured millions of dollars into a wide variety of self-driving startups, including raising $25 million for Otonomo’s platform for designing autonomous vehicle apps. Maniv has dabbled in the automated fleet sector, funding a Series A round for Ridecell and raising $9 million for Upstream Security. The VC firm also raised $12 million for Drive.ai to further develop its autonomous driving software.

3. Samsung Catalyst Fund

Launched by Samsung in 2013, the Catalyst Fund finances early-stage startups in the US and abroad. The company’s portfolio is full of nascent companies developing self-driving technologies. In 2017, the VC firm raised $30 million for Autotalks and $10 million for Renovo Auto. More recently, the company has moved into funding startups working on 3D sensing and accurate mapping for self-driving vehicles.

4. Toyota AI Ventures

Explicitly created by the Toyota Research Institute to invest in AI startups, Toyota AI Ventures has spent the last year raising money for a host of autonomous vehicle startups. The company has raised over $160 million for Nauto, a Palo Alto-based startup whose self-driving system uses computer vision, GPS, and motion sensors to navigate. The VC firm has also invested heavily in May Mobility, an autonomous vehicle manufacturing startup from Michigan.

5. Matrix Partners China

Although Matrix has historically focused on the fin-tech sector, the Chinese branch of American VC firm Matrix Partners has been increasingly eying the self-driving market. Since the beginning of 2018, the company has been sinking millions of dollars into burgeoning automotive vehicle companies. In January, Matrix raised over $320 million for self-driving vehicle manufacturer Xiaopeng Motors. They also participated in a $448 million Series B funding round for CHJ Automotive, a Beijing-based startup working on an autonomous electric vehicle.

6. 360 Capital Partners

Since it took charge of the $93 million Robolution fund in 2016, the Paris-based VC firm has shown increased interest in the self-driving sector. While other investors have bankrolled American and Chinese companies, 360 Capital Partners has spent its funds on French and Israeli startups. The firm raised $34.7 million for Navya’s fleet of autonomous cabs and shuttles in 2016 and recently contributed to a $10 million Series A round for Arbe Robotics’ high-performance vehicle radar systems.


7. Synapse Partners

Synapse Partners has its focus firmly on the future of AI in transportation. Managing director Evangelos Simoudis is a longtime champion of autonomous vehicles, and the company’s portfolio reflects this interest. Synapse is a staunch backer of Renovo Auto, a startup that makes a self-driving platform for automotive vehicles. The company has also provided seed funds for Understand.ai and Metamoto, newer startups dedicated to developing autonomous software.

8. GGV Capital

With some of the deepest pockets in the venture capital world, it’s no surprise that GGV Capital has also made forays into the emerging self-driving vehicle market. The company gave a boost to Momenta’s HD mapping technology and raised Series B funding for Xiaopeng Motors. The firm was also an early investor in Ehang, a Shanghai-based company that is attempting to develop the first autonomous air vehicle.

9. Greycroft

While best known for successful exits from startups like Venmo and Blue Apron, Greycroft has also flirted with autonomous vehicle startups. The firm has been a significant funder of Optimus Ride, a Massachusetts-based company that makes self-driving software and whose cars can be seen traversing the streets of Boston. Greycroft has raised more than $20 million for the company’s low-speed electric vehicles.

10. O.G. Tech Ventures

Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer launched his own tech VC firm in 2017, and since its inception, the company has concentrated on security and self-driving startups. Using its sizeable dedicated fund, O.G. has raised more than $18 million for Arbe Robotics. The Tel Aviv-based startup is working on an improved version of 4D radar to help self-driving cars navigate around obstacles in the road.


Developing self-driving platforms comes with a high cost; however, these VC firms have chosen to bankroll the next big trend by adding the most promising autonomous vehicle startups to their portfolios. As tech companies perfect dynamic radar cruise control and prepare urban centers for automated fleets, these firms are making the future possible.


side hustle life

Smart Tips for Integrating a Side Hustle into Your Life

It was not that long ago that earning extra money meant taking on a part-time job. Back then, unfortunately, juggling a full-time career and a part-time job was no easy task, and many would-be moonlighters quickly found out.

These days, it is far easier to do that juggling act. The widespread availability of so-called side hustles makes it easier than ever to earn some extra money while still holding down a full-time job. But before you sign up for Uber, create an account at Upwork or print up your business cards, you need to think ahead.

If you want your first foray into side hustling to be successful, you need to think about how you will integrate your new activities into your current life and lifestyle. Here are some smart tips for integrating your side hustle into your current schedule.

Talk to Your Boss and Coworkers

You do not want your side hustle to put your current job in jeopardy, and trying to hide your moonlighting could backfire. Just think what would happen if you pulled up to the curb in your role as an Uber driver, only to discover your boss and his wife at a local restaurant.

You can avoid those uncomfortable situations and protect yourself by being open and honest about your side hustle. You do not need to make it a big deal, and you do not have to ask permission – just be sure your supervisor knows that you have a side hustle and that you will not let it interfere with your current job duties.

Talking to your coworkers is nearly as important, but it could be even more beneficial. Once your colleagues know about your side hustle, they may take advantage of your services. In fact, the people in your office just might be your first clients.

Identify Available Blocks of Time

The best thing about a side hustle is that you can do it virtually any time you want. If you want to drive for Uber in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning, you can. If you want to do some freelance writing or computer coding, you can do your work whenever it suits you.

Despite the flexibility of the side hustle, you will still need to block out time to do it. Start by analyzing your day and your current duties, then look for blocks of time where you can pursue your chosen side hustle.

Be Serious About Your New Business

You may think of your new activity as a side hustle, but it is actually a business. No matter how much or how little you make, it is important to view your side hustle as the business it is.

If your side hustle is successful and you start bringing in some serious cash, you will need to set money aside for taxes, and you may need to make quarterly payments to the IRS. It may also make sense to open a separate bank account for your business, so you can track your expenses, take advantage of tax deductions and maximize your earning potential.

Taking on a side hustle is a great way to bring in some extra cash, learn new things and expand your horizons, but integrating your new activities into your life is not always easy. If you want to succeed as a part-time entrepreneur and business owner, you need to take a proactive approach. The tips listed above can help you fit your side hustle into your life and lifestyle so you can earn more cash and enjoy a more independent lifestyle.


Uber stock falls

Uber Stock Falls Since Last Week’s IPO, NLRD Rules Against Drivers, Paris Threatens Escooter Ban

This Week in Mobility ― May 17, 2019

This week, Uber stocks continue to fall, Paris threatens to ban escooter companies from operating on city streets, and Indian grocery startup Grofers scores a $200 million investment from Softbank Vision Fund.

Uber Stocks Fall Twice Since Last Week’s IPO

It’s no surprise that Uber stock has fallen 10.7% since going public last week. Rival company Lyft released a dismal earnings report last week, but Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi remains optimistic.

CNBC reported that Khosrowshahi sent a memo to employees encouraging them to look at the disappointing IPOs of Amazon and Facebook as a lesson in what to expect for the company’s future.

While pre-IPO valuations of the company were as high as $120 billion, their horrible stock performance in the past week has cut that estimate in half. Based on their current stock prices, Uber’s current valuation is hovering between $60-65 billion. However, the last couple of days have changed, as both Uber and Lyft are starting to see a slight increase in their trading prices.

Will Uber be able to gain ground and recover from their horrible IPO? It’s hard to tell. With tighter regulations and driver lawsuits, it may be quite a while before Uber sees any profit at all. As other rideshare companies look at Uber and Lyft as role models for the industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay optimistic.

Lyft and Uber Drivers Lose Ground in Their Demands for Better Treatment

On May 14, the US National Labor Relations Board released a statement that rideshare drivers are independent contractors. Both Uber and Lyft drivers are currently suing the companies, stating that they should be classified under US labor law as employees and not independent contracts.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence Analyst Michael Schettenhelm, he believes the lawsuit is a lost cause for the drivers. “A lower court ruled for Uber, and we don’t expect the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will reverse course,” he wrote.

Both Uber and Lyft stocks rose Wednesday and Thursday as a result of the decision since driver relations is a key area of concern for investors. While this may temporarily help stock prices for both companies, without a true path to profit, the increase is most likely a fluke and will not continue.

Paris Threatens to Ban Escooter Companies From Operating

In an attempt to control the explosion in incidents involving escooters, the city of Paris is threatening to ban all rentals unless companies agree to abide by a code of conduct.

The problem lies not with the companies themselves, but the riders. There are over 15,000 dockless scooters operating in Paris, and the number is poised to double very soon.

Riders are not following city rules regarding scooter use, often riding them on sidewalks instead of city streets. Because rentals can literally be left anywhere, when customers are done, they are leaving them in parking spaces, blocking sidewalks, and even throwing them in the river.

Legislation is in the works to impose stricter fines on riders that fail to follow the rules, but since a majority of riders are tourists, it’s hard to say how much control the government (or the scooter companies) have over the problem.

Waymo Picks Up 1,000th Customer in Self-Driving Taxi Service

It’s tough to be in the autonomous taxi business. Waymo’s self-driving taxi service reported picking up its 1,000th customer two weeks ago.

The Insurance Journal noted that this shows very slow growth for autonomous taxis, but we beg to differ. Yes, it took six months to deliver 1,000 people to and fro, but the service only operates in Phoenix, which is not as densely populated as other US cities.

Once Waymo works out the bugs in its service and starts operating in major markets like San Francisco and Washington, DC, the autonomous taxi sector will grow quickly.

It’s true there is no fully autonomous vehicle in production today, but with innovative companies like Tesla and others hard at work, we’re likely to see this change sooner than we think.

Indian Grocery Delivery Service Lands $200M Investment

On demand grocery delivery startup Grofers scored a $200 million investment round led by Softbank Vision Fund.

The five-year-old company delivers to 13 cities in Indian from over 5,000 stores. This is the largest funding round ever for grocery delivery in India, making Grofers a viable alternative to big box grocery delivery services from Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart service.

As grocery on demand services heat up in both the US and abroad, it will be interesting to see if the services will revolutionize the way the world shops. Based on the current landscape, it looks like this is definitely one of the most lucrative sectors.


Image credit: Shutterstock.com


Entrepreneur 7 questions

7 Questions Every Startup Entrepreneur Should Consider

Despite Uber’s disastrous IPO last week, this is still, undeniably, the age of the startup. Every large city across the world is teeming with enthusiastic groups of people hopeful that they have found the next big thing. More startups than ever are making a successful mark on the world. If you have an idea, this is the time to make it a reality.

Whatever your plans, being an entrepreneur is both exciting and daunting. There are a whole host of plans to make and factors to take into account. It can be tempting, and far too easy, to just jump right in at the deep end.

But before you do that, take a deep breath and answer these seven questions. They are designed to help focus your thoughts and streamline your plans.

They will help you with careful, considered planning. This, in turn, will ultimately improve your chances of success.

1. Why do you want to found your startup?

There are as many reasons to found a startup as there are entrepreneurs, but not all of these reasons are created equal.

If your answer is ‘I want to make money’, then that is not a good reason. There are far easier and faster ways of making money than launching a startup. Startups require time, effort, and every ounce of engagement you have. If you want to make money, go work for a bank.

If your answer is ‘I have a solution to a problem that needs solving, and I am passionate about that solution’, then you are in a much better place.

2. How well do you know your niche?

Not being the most expert person in your chosen niche might not harm you. However, you do need to have researched your area as thoroughly as possible.

If you don’t know much about your target area, find somebody who does, and ask them.

3. Who will your team be?

Very few successful startups are run by one person. It’s pretty much impossible. It’s also far less fun. You need to find a business partner, or at least somebody willing to help you with admin.

Find somebody who is passionate about your project and who knows their stuff. Ideally, find someone who is a compliment to you. If you’re excellent at generating ideas but not so good at completing processes, find yourself an organized partner who can complete the grind.

4. What kind of business are you doing to be?

Eventually, you’re going to have to think taxes, shares, and responsibility. Make sure you are within the law and that your structure fits your team. Laws vary by location, so you need to seek advice on what best to do.

One of your biggest considerations will be how you split ownership. Will you go 50/50, or will one partner retain more influence? Discuss this carefully – you don’t want it going wrong further along the line.

5. Where is the revenue going to be coming from?

Nobody is going to take you seriously without a plan of where the money lies.

You need to know where your revenue is coming from, and you need to have some idea of how feasible your financial plans are. This will help you with pricing, with gaining investment, and with retaining credibility.

6. Who are your customers?

Know your market, and know how to get your market to come to you. Unless you are extraordinarily lucky, getting customers will require hard work and excellent marketing.

Know from the start how you intend to make this happen.

7. Who can help you?

Nearly all successful entrepreneurs had some experienced business guru to give them advice from the beginning. You don’t need to have Warren Buffet’s private phone number, but you do need some idea of who might be able to help you with questions and concerns.

Don’t be afraid to contact successful entrepreneurs in your chosen area and ask them for advice. The worst they can do is refuse. They’ll probably be glad to help.

Finally, here’s a bonus point to consider:

Are you willing to put the work in?

No startup has been founded on ideas alone – you are going to need to work hard and steadily. You need to be certain that you are willing to make your plans happen.

With that said, the best time to start has always been now.