9 Unusual Ideas for Lyft to be David to Uber’s Goliath

Uğur Kaner
6 min readApr 29, 2015

Dear Lyft, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and it doesn’t look very promising. Not only does your competitor seem to be way ahead by just about every measure in numbers, but also you seem either on par or lagging behind in almost every aspect with your product.

I really like what you and Uber have done in terms of shaping our life and culture. I like you a little bit more since you’ve been community-driven from day one. But I’m worried this will turn into a single player cab empire without you, when it could be a cultural transformation founded by coexistence. I would really love to see you keep up with your competition for a better future, together.

I bet you already have great plans lined up, and I know it’s really hard to compete with a 40 billion dollar gorilla. Even so, here is my two cents on what you could do better. Some might sound unusual in today’s aggressive growth culture. Some might be just friendly reminders. But I believe these could help you to stay stronger in the long run, while not straying from your core values.

1. Charge More

Stop competing with price. Competition, especially with price, is for losers. If you do not believe me, believe Peter Thiel. Instead, focus on adding value that makes people want to pay more. Get me to meet nice people, make my day better, help me protect the environment. I’ll pay you more. And I’ll bring in more people who will pay you more.

For this happen, there is one very important step you need to take:

2. Have a Cause

Serve something bigger than your business. Take on the mission to make the world a better place- and do it like you mean it, not as if it were another PR stunt. Focus on protecting the environment. Aim to be the first transportation company with zero carbon footprint. Distinguish yourself even further as the people company, not just another cab business.

3. Reflect Your Cause

Get your brand to reflect your cause. Once, pink was nice to attract attention and stand out in a crowd. Now is the time for green. Take off your pink shirt and put on a green one. Put a smile on your face, because you are all about people and you make them smile every day.

Shout your cause on your front page, on your app, on your daily language. Do not hide it on some hard-to-find page on your site. Be the embodiment of your cause, from your leaders to your drivers, from your emails to your app messages. Instead of telling me how much money I saved, tell me how much I helped to save the world today.

4. Raise the Driver Bar

I hear that it’s harder to be a Lyft driver than an Uber driver. Make it even harder! Hire only those who resonate with your mission. Those who are really able and willing to reflect who you are. Those who do not work only for money.

Don’t get in line to sign up drivers. Make people line up to drive for you. Make it a privilege to be a Lyft driver. Cut a deal with Tesla and give them all electric cars. People are already buying cars just to work for you. They’d love to go the extra mile to lease a hot-shot, zero emission Tesla.

5. Connect People

Build a passionate community, not just a taxi app. I’m not talking about Facebook connections, Twitter shares or empty user profiles. Work on algorithms that increase my chances to ride with the same person again. Work on ways to get me to meet people I’d love to go mountain biking with. Help me happen upon the love of my life on my way home after a long Friday. And then enable me to re-connect.

If I think of you as the company that introduced me to my new yoga buddy, I’ll love you and be your friend forever.

6. Make It Simpler

How can you get people from one point to another with one tap of a button? How about without a button?

Please don’t ask me to type in addresses over and over again- you know where I go frequently. Don’t put five stars in front of me. Put thumbs up or down, green or red. Don’t make me think. Read my mind and be two steps ahead of me.

7. Support Better

Lyft, I’m disappointed with your support. It’s the bad times that define my loyalty to you. Don’t hide behind FAQs, emails or contact forms. Be a warm, calming voice when I need your help. Put a huge button where I can see it and say, “Hi Ugur! Do you need help? Call me, I’m always available for you!”

Are calls too complicated? How about a chat box in the button’s place and help me chat with someone. But please, don’t make me read pages and pages, or seek help on Twitter when I’m already stressed and in need of immediate assistance. There are better ways to assist a human being.

8. Be Magical

You know where I live. You know where I go most often. You know what I like, who I’m friends with and more. Use that to make my day with small, magical surprises. Remind me how much I love visiting Dolores Park and get me to try that new Bi-Rite ice cream flavor. Ask if I want a Lyft when I look at my phone before my Sunday morning trip to the gym. You know my routine. Make my life magical.

9. Be Crazy

Every big success was once a small trend. Aim for ideas that sound crazy and unconventional today. Never stop challenging yourself!

Closing Words

Lyft, will these tips help you to become an overnight success? Will you rock your revenue and blow your investors’ minds tomorrow? Probably not. What I do believe is that these could help you create a timeless product and brand that people love. These could help you touch millions of lives and hearts in the right way and, furthermore, shape a culture.



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Uğur Kaner

Engineer by training, designer at heart, product in craft. Co-founder Collective.com empowering business-of-one. Former @Memebox (YC W14), @Udemy