On-demand economy startups have raised over $9.4B since 2010 to provide mobile-powered services across many categories, including food-delivery, shipping, and transportation.
But while consumer-facing startups like Uber and Shyp capture investor and media attention, another less glamorous subset of companies will provide the infrastructure and services to enable their services. In 2011, Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz wrote about the “shovels” opportunity that follows most major technology trends:
“For most technology trends, the number of successful companies created in gold mining and pickaxes are comparable, yet the gold mining businesses tend to get much more attention.”
Within the gold-rush world of on-demand, startups providing “pickaxes” are focusing on a few key categories:
- Route / vehicle optimization & logistics: Companies helping on-demand startups and/or other firms to manage and analyze delivery operations, routes, and assets. This category includes firms like OnFleet, which manages delivery operations for on-demand startups such as Meadow and Boxbee; as well as Dispatch, which offers products and back-end feature sets to bring businesses into the on-demand economy.
- Background checks: Startups in this category, like Checkr, are leveraging APIs to automate background checks, enabling a quicker screening process for on-demand workers.
- On-boarding / 1099 economy: A host of companies are helping on-board, track and/or pay freelancers, contractors, and short-term rental hosts for the various on-demand platforms. These companies are working both with on-demand startups and directly with workers. Zen99, for example, provides tax and insurance forms, as well as health insurance, to independent contractors.
- App promotion / deep links/indexing: Companies providing connections between apps to drive installs and app-to-app integration. Button, for example, powered a recent partnership allowing users to order an Uber directly from Foursquare‘s app.Looking for data on on-demand mobile services? Check out the CB Insights Venture Capital Database free below.