For those of you that haven't heard of Juno, they're the new rideshare company that plans to take on Uber and Lyft. They recently launched a beta program in New York City a few months ago, and they plan to expand to more cities in the upcoming years.
The launch for Juno was very successful, especially considering they had very little publicity and grew the company namely by word of mouth. According to The Observer, the company service is "as much a social mission as a company".
Uber and Lyft have thoroughly established themselves in the rideshare market. The highly competitive industry put SideCar, one of the first rideshare companies, out of business. It won't be easy for Juno to get a foothold in this market, but they have an interesting strategy in place.
Juno's Strategy for Competing in the Rideshare Business
The business model of Juno is interesting enough in and of itself, and definitely worth taking a look at. They offer their drivers equity in the company, 50% of their founding shares are reserved for drivers. Juno also advertises a guaranteed low commission rate of 10.5% during the first 24 months that they're in business.
These incentives are huge, they significantly out match those offered by Uber and Lyft. There are quite a few rideshare drivers out there that are fed up with fare cuts and high commissions. It's possible that a lot of drivers will give Juno a shot for those reasons alone.
The notion that Uber drivers are "partners" really just ends up pissing off a lot of drivers. They are not invested in the company, can be cut at a moments notice, and are forced to operate as independent contractors at their own expense.
Juno also has referral incentives for drivers. Unlike Lyft and Uber who pay out large sign on bonuses to drivers, Juno pays drivers a bonus of 0.5% of a new drivers wages over their initial 24 months. It's a unique offer, and appears to favor the referral of quality drivers that are committed long turn. Given the high turnover of drivers in the rideshare industry, this could be an effective way to keep drivers on the platform longer. It always seemed weird that Lyft and Uber payed out bonuses after only a month or two, we'll see whether or not there's any logic behind the short term referral payouts once it can be measured against Juno's strategy.
Juno has definitely identified a problem in the rideshare market and addressed it with an adequate solution. Whether or not they are able to execute on this strategy will likely determine their success.
Here are the recent updates in Juno's battle vs. Uber and Lyft.
Who are the People Behind Juno?
The CEO and Co-Founder of Juno is Talmon Marco. His was able to sell his previous business, Viber, for a small sum of $900 million. The fact that he's had prior success in the start up industry is important, it's not an easy environment to succeed in. Considering the companies that Juno is up against, they are going to need some impressive talent. According to Fortune, Juno is still in its infancy with under 100 people in the start up.
The process for hiring drivers appears to be much more personal than that of Lyft or Uber. Drivers meet up with in person over coffee to discuss the job before they start. Combined with the equity proposal, this will likely inspire drivers to take more pride and ownership in their job. Juno also claims that it will only accept Lyft and Uber drivers with a rating of 4.7 stars or higher. If Juno can bring in professional and qualified drivers through this process, it should have a positive impact on the company as a whole
In it's early days, Lyft drivers went through a mentor session that I thought was really cool. You had a chance to meet up with an experienced driver and learn from them before you got out on the road. I believe the process still exists in some cities, but because of Lyft's rapid expansion they aren't able to implement the mentor session everywhere. If Juno can maintain a more personal connection with their drivers through meet ups and customer service it will go a long ways to keep drivers happy.
What Else is Cool About Juno?
Juno is definitely trying to differentiate itself in the rideshare industry, and in order to succeed they will need to. There area couple other cool features of Juno that are worth noting:
- They won't have a carpool service (offered by Uber and Lyft)
- Tipping will be allowed
- Drivers will be given a phone and their data will be covered
- There will be no surge pricing or surge charges
The above feature address many of the pain points associated with Lyft and Uber. As a rideshare driver, I would definitely consider driving for Juno if they came to Seattle. The potential to get equity in a business is really an awesome idea, and I'm sure the word will spread quickly. If I had to pick a bone with the company it would be their homepage, which is shown in the screenshot below. It looks like it was created by a web designer in 2009 - but they are still in beta so I'll cut them a break there.
All in all, I'd have to say Juno is a very interesting concept, and I look forward to watching the company grow. If you're interested in registering early to drive, you need a referral code. Feel free to use mine.