MeetUp tests new revenue model, faces immediate backlash

Users who have a stake in MeetUp are privy to the fact that it’s owned by the currently discredited and struggling WeWork, so when the platform started testing a new revenue model in which it charged users $2 to RSVP to certain events (even free ones), people assumed it was a shortsighted way to pad the pockets of its cash-strapped parent company, and they weren’t happy about it.

1. Users made their plans to abandon the site clear on Twitter.

2. Open-source projects took the opportunity to court spurned MeetUp users to their own coming-soon event-scheduling platforms:

“To be 100% clear: the freeCodeCamp.org community is still hard at work on an open source alternative to Meetup, and we are making steady progress.”


For now, I’m calling it “MeetingPlace”, and have put up a super simple landing page up here: http://meetingplace.io 

Enter your email there to get updates, and to share the features you’d need to switch your group away from meetup.

MeetUp responded quickly to say they were only testing this model on a small number of events, but tech and business news outlets picked up the story, and it’s not a good look for the brand.

Whether this actually hurts MeetUp in the long run remains to be seen, but it seems to have made them vulnerable.

Why it’s hot: Between offering ad-supported, fremium, and subscription services, platform-based tech companies must navigate a tenuous relationship with users when extracting money from them.

This negotiation with the public happens within a consumer culture that increasingly requires business transparency and imposes a collectively agreed-upon level of “fairness”.

Companies that violate this perceived fairness, or don’t offer a (perceived) commensurate level of value in return are liable to find themselves on thin ice.

 

 

Grubhub under scrutiny…Food delivery wars heat up

New York is gearing up for an epic food fight.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., singled out Grubhub over the weekend, calling for greater oversight after allegations of unfair trade practices. The senior New York senator was reacting to recent reports that the delivery app company had improperly charged restaurants fees even when an order had not taken place.

Councilman Mark Gjonaj, the New York City lawmaker spearheading the push to regulate Grubhub, said it goes beyond just bogus fees.

“These mom-and-pop shops have an unfair disadvantage,” Gjonaj told CNBC’s “Fast Money ” on Monday. “They’re competing against billion-dollar venture capital-invested companies. The fee structure is up to 33% of the total charges, and we know [their] profits are 6% to 12%. On every order, there is a net loss to these small businesses.”

LINK

Why it’s Hot!

Grubhub, DoorDash, UberEats, etc. have created a huge benefit for consumers to easily have food delivered easy peasy, but whenever someone wins, somebody else usually loses. In this case the consumer is winning with food delivery wars creating tons of competition and incentives for us to have food delivered for a small fee and ultra convenience.

Well this story shows how it impacts these local restaurants with crazy fees that result in net losses in a low margin business to begin with. This brings to light if these disruptive digital businesses are viable with their high fees and increasing costs (higher minimum wage), etc.

DoorDash recently passed up GrubHub in revenue and eyeing an IPO, but for that convenience are small and local businesses going to be able to afford those fees or will only the larger establishments with high volume and margins be able to survive?

A New Approach to Finding Locations

A start up called What3Words has mapped and renamed every location on Earth. Using an algorithm to scan GPS co-ordinates, they created 57 trillion 3 meter by 3 meter squares that each have unique three word address. For example, ‘Tools.sand.stone’ refers to a spot in Central Park in New York and ‘Sportscar.citronella.photocopiers’ is a square of the Antarctic Ocean.

They created this map in order to increase accuracy in navigation for businesses and individuals in a simple yet global way. 75% of countries don’t have their own organized addressing system, according to the UN, so the possibilities that this system opens up are far-reaching.

Consumers can download the free app in 25 languages to get directions. But the real value comes when What3Words partners with brands and government agencies. Pizza Hut and Dominoes are using these addresses in places like Mongolia and the Caribbean to deliver pizzas to remote locations. And several models of Mercedes are using What3Words for their built-in navigation systems.

Why It’s Hot

The applications for more precise, universal locations are a win-win for businesses and consumers. UPS estimates saving each of its drivers one mile per day would result in a $50 million in overall savings. For consumers, the benefits range from increased accuracy for driving directions to life-saving emergency vehicles arriving on the scene more quickly.

Source: https://www.marketingweek.com/2018/10/08/startup-simplify-location/

There’s a New Credit Card for People Without a Credit Score

Petal is a new company that provides credit cards to those who have not yet built up a traditional credit history. Instead, it uses data like how much money a person makes and spends in a month to determine what their credit limit should be. Petal Card_hires

One of the company’s co-founders, Jason Gross, explains that using a customer’s bank account history as a basis allows Petal to offer better credit limits that are often 10 times higher than competitors’ rates.

Annual Percentage Rates fall between the industry standard 14-25%, but the company has no fees of any kind, including late fees. Instead, the company generates money through interest payments and charging vendors when a customer uses their card.

Why It’s Hot: 

Younger people who don’t have a credit score yet finally have a credit card option that doesn’t penalize them with high rates and fees. As Gross has noted, this is especially important since this group is disproportionately made up of minorities and immigrants who often suffer without a credit score to help them qualify for financial products.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/02/petals-no-fee-credit-card-for-the-credit-score-less-is-now-open-to-the-public/ 

If salad ingredients and robots made love…

It would be a company called Chowbotics. They just landed $5 mil in Series A, further developing the food service robotic industry.

Its flagship product is called Sally, a salad-making robot that uses 20 different food canister to prepare and serve more than 1,000 types of salad. Number of pilot customers have signed on- restaurants, co-working spaces, and corporate cafeterias.

Benefits :

  • Sally-made salads can be precisely measured – know exactly how many calories are going into your food.
  • Data-driven platform can measure both popularity of specific recipes, # of caloric intake, increase or decline of demand on ingredients  – all that can help both healthcare and the food industry make better informed decisions.