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How did Uber initially get traction? How did it acquire its first users?

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2098 Rider
 Posted 7 years, 7 months ago

The hindsight is 20/20.  I get it that Uber's service was innovative and disruptive to the market, but how did it acquire its initial wave of customers?  How did they get their word out?  Who were the first drivers?  

Was it truly its unique features?  Was there a big push in marketing?  It all seems simple now, but it must have been quite a feat to get it up and running.


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    46 Driver
     5 years ago

    There are lots of chicken-or-egg scenarios that we have to play out. For example, drivers-or-riders?  The answer, I believe, is that the drivers came first. The greatest thing Uber did was to target high-end services (i.e. today's UberBlack) first, because they were able to get the limo drivers on board first.

    DRIVERS: They recruited limo drivers with livery licenses first.  These people already ran their own businesses and were already making money.  Their livelihood did not depend on making money with Uber.  It was an easy sell.  "Just try us out." I assume there were neat promotions but i haven't been around to know what they were.

    RIDERS: Once there were ample drivers, Uber started to offer its services in small areas,while making sure they can meet the demand.

    On a side note: Uber also had great seeding campaigns and referral programs.

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     5 years ago

    I've been using Uber longer than most (only shortly after they dropped the "taxi" from "Uber taxi". One greatest catchphrase was:


    So awesome.

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    120 Rider Guru
     7 years ago

    From what I can tell it seems like Uber spent a lot of their efforts trying to get their name out there when they first launched, like when they partnered with large organizations.

    During a bus worker strike in Boston, Uber gave free rides to Boston Public School students stranded by the strike. From this, Uber got massive publicity and ingratiated itself to the local community.

    After that Uber also partnered with an animal shelter and started UberKittens, letting passengers pet kittens. By the end of 2013, Uber had expanded rapidly from 12 to 35 cities, and was growing its revenue by 18% a month.

    Now Uber hardly spends any money on marketing, and when they do, it's all about attracting drivers and giving them new incentives to sign up and drive for Uber.

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    560 Driver
     5 years ago

    I do think it was the useful app that became such an attraction for the people. I think we ALL had that aha moment when we took our first ride. Download the app and called a cab.  Remember how easy it was?

    Then again, for the service to be useful, they had to have ample number of drivers first. I think there was some genius and careful process involved. They really need to be commended for coming up with this cookbook that worked in every city.

    They started in smaller markets and were very careful about expanding to new cities. Whenever they arrived in a new city, they hired local folks, moved some experienced managers there. Then they would negotiate with local authorities, recruit drivers, etc. etc.