Fasten, Fare, Get Me replace Uber & Lyft in Austin, TX
When Prop 1 failed a few weeks ago, the thriving ride-share economy in Austin, Texas screeched to a halt.
…or so it seemed.
In no more than a blink of an eye, the ride-share economy was back on its feet. But how?
Within hours of the “official shutdown” of Uber and Lyft, the Facebook group Arcade City Austin / Request a Ride formed. Tens of thousands of Austinites began to coordinate rides through the group page, which they continue to use today.
Then Fasten, Fare, and Get Me appeared out of thin air. RideAustin prepared for launch. The effect was like an apparition in the desert on a hot summer day. Could all this be real? Was it legal? Wasn’t ride-sharing over in Austin, at least for a while?
Yes, yes, and no.
Before I expand on this, though, let me first tell you of my personal experience driving for Uber & Lyft.
My experience driving PT for Uber & Lyft
When I quit my job and ventured out on my own, one of the first things I did was sign up as a driver for Uber and Lyft.
A flexible income hedge for entrepreneurs.
Having a flexible source of PT income seemed smart enough, because it provided an income hedge. If I had a slow month with my business, then I could simply put in a few more hours on the road. If I had a great month, then I could back off and reinvest more time into my business.
This is really quite a beautiful thing – and hopefully some of you are having “aha” moments while reading this. Never has it been so easy to become a freelancer or entrepreneur; the sharing economy has enabled the motivated to pursue their dreams with less risk than ever before.
By hedging your personal income with side hustles, your entrepreneurial ramp is greatly extended – perhaps even indefinitely (depending on your lifestyle and expenses). At a minimum, your financial risk is greatly reduced. This means it’s not so scary to “jump off the cliff” like it used to be.
Now sure, nobody wants to live off $18-20/hr forever (this is what I averaged during my time w/Uber and Lyft). But all things considered, it’s not bad (consider that 19.23/hr equates to ~$40,000/yr). This is especially true since you can set your own hours and scale up/down as much as you’d like.
Why “$15” when there’s $18-20/hr?
Not to mention, some people don’t even earn $18-20/hr at their “regular” jobs. Frankly, I’m not sure why anyone with a driver’s license and a car wouldn’t drive for a ride-sharing company if their job was paying them significantly less.
Here we are in a political climate where an entire movement has formed in support of a $15/hr minimum wage, and yet the opportunity for $18-20/hr has been ripe for the taking the entire time.
Understandably not everyone has a car, or will qualify, or lives in a big city, or is comfortable driving strangers around, but for the rest of us, this is (dare I say) über-low hanging fruit. 😛
Consider also that driving can be fun.
As you might expect, I’ve got some stories from my time on the road. From making new friends to meeting prospective new clients; from discussing the meaning of life with complete strangers to discovering new restaurants I’d never tried (but since have) – there’s a certain novelty to it.
It was a rare day that I’d come home without at least one interesting passenger story. It was always interesting.
More side hustles: Turo, Amazon Flex, TaskRabbit, and more
This is just one more way anyone can monetize their personal property and create another stream of income. I joined Turo less than a month ago, and I’ve already pocketed over $500.00 from periodically renting out my car. And from a rental standpoint, you can get way nicer cars for less.
Only the future will tell if this profitability continues, but I’m hopeful that it will.
In my personal case, most days I work from home anyways and we have a second vehicle – plus, ride-share is already back in full force here in Austin, TX – so there’s no reason not to rent out our car for half the month. Instead of paying ~$250/mo, we’re netting +$250/mo to own a luxury vehicle.
Similar to driving for a ride-share company, Amazon Flex is another opportunity to make $18-25/hr working the hours you want. You can sign up here: https://flex.amazon.com/
Amazon Flex is currently in Arlington (VA), Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Raleigh, Richmond, Rockville (MD), San Antonio, Seattle, Springfield (VA), Tampa Bay, and Virginia Beach.
This is a program I’ve yet to use (although I have gone through the sign up process). Therefore, I can’t speak from personal experience – but it seems like a pretty decent side hustle.
The only downside I saw during the sign up process, is that you aren’t guaranteed hours. After you list your availability, you may or may not be called upon to drive/make deliveries depending on demand. (In reality, this isn’t so different from ride-share… just less marginal due to the all-or-nothing nature it possesses.)
I’m sure this is a simple function of supply (how many drivers are listing themselves as available during a given block of hours) and demand (how many packages need to be delivered that day). It may be worth exploring, however, if you’re looking for another flexible source of supplemental income.
TaskRabbit is something of a “jack-of-all-trades” on-demand service network. Use it for help with household chores, moving, shopping, handyman services, and general help. (Sign up with this link for $20.00 off your first task.)
There are some people making $2,000 per week as taskers on TaskRabbit. As with any platform such as this, your mileage will vary (read: you probably won’t make this much). But it’s yet another way to hedge your risk as an entrepreneur, or cash in a few extra bucks no matter who you are.
Read more personal accounts of what it’s like working on TaskRabbit here.
You have probably heard of Airbnb by now – my wife and I (and our friends) have used this a number of times for weekend getaways, vacations, and business trips. (Sign up here for $25.00 off your first stay!)
On the flip side, what an awesome way to make a few extra hundred bucks per month – if you have a spare room you’re willing to rent out. Understandably not everybody does, but for those who do (and are willing) this is a pretty easy win. Strangers crash a handful of days each month, and you earn a few extra hundred dollars. Easy.
More “On Demand” Hustles
Hurdlr, the financial management company/app for on-demand freelancers and hustlers, put together a comprehensive list of one-hundred (100) on-demand opportunities last year.
This list includes all the obvious players, like Uber & Airbnb – and also includes some you probably haven’t heard of, like Open Airplane, GigWalk, and Geekatoo.
Now sure, not all of these opportunities are available everywhere. For example, I tried to use Favor in Orange County, California this past weekend and was surprised to learn they aren’t there yet. (Sign up with Favor here for a few bucks off your first order.)
Regardless, whether you’re a “side hustle noob” just starting out or a seasoned vet, this list serves as an excellent reference to learn about your available opportunities.
What does the future hold for side hustles, “gigs,” and the sharing economy?
According to this article, the “gig economy is coming” and “the ‘gig economy’ is now so salient that the phrase and issues have entered the early exchanges of the presidential race.”
As a proponent of side hustles and the gig economy, this sounds promising to me. I’m excited to see what the future holds for the sharing economy as it continues to grow.
More people will be empowered to walk away from substandard bosses, jobs, and companies. More entrepreneurs will spawn and drive much-needed innovation, because they can finally “jump off the (financial) cliff” with a parachute strapped on beforehand, instead of having to build one on the way down.
There are certainly naysayers, though.
If I had to guess, most are probably inflexible traditionalists or corporate execs disappointed to learn they must treat people properly, lest they leave to pursue the growing abundance of self-employment options available to them. But there are also economists, innovators, and regular Joe’s concerned, too.
Their concerns are surely valid, but – from an economic standpoint I believe as more gig opportunities arise our economy will become more effective and efficient. This puts all of us in a better position in the long run.
Yes, it will displace some incumbent workers because innovation always does. Cab drivers have lost jobs to Uber & Lyft drivers. Hotels have lost business to Airbnb hosts. The list goes on. But the fact is, this is the positive side of capitalism – growth, innovation, efficiency, and competition.
Just imagine if we were still getting around by horse and buggy, had those with a vested interest in the industry somehow managed to shoot down the automobile. If the civil rights movement hadn’t succeeded, because enough weak-minded, unempathetic, hateful people had somehow managed to stop it.
The world will always be in a constant state of evolution and change. To fight against this change is misguided at best and imprudent at worst. It is much wiser to embrace it, to adapt to it, to work collaboratively towards a brighter future.
These are just a few reasons I believe Austin took a step backwards by denying Prop 1’s passage. In what has become one of the most renowned, booming tech/startup cities in the nation, not only did we destroy thousands of jobs overnight, but we actively chose to move away from startup innovation.
Fortunately, it doesn’t matter much – because ride-share is already back up and running again, with even more options to choose from than before Prop 1 failed. Furthermore, the path forward only includes more avenues for self-employment and entrepreneurship.