Air BnB Vs Uber (Purpose = Positive Culture)

September 29, 2017
September 29, 2017 KalyanChallapalli Challapalli

#wolfSIGHTS: Purpose Procreates Positive Culture

Uber just lost its operating licence in UK & its not another article swooping in like a vulture to pick at the slowly decaying cadaver of Uber.

Two shared-economy brands. Both tech-based start-ups. The difference is one has a purpose which procreates positive culture and the other has none.

Its a thought-piece that hopes to instigate entrepreneurs and start-ups (especially tech-start ups) to wake up to Purposing a culture within your organization right at the start.

(1) Start-Ups Can So Easily Become “Up-Starts”:

Either a few grad-school drop-outs or the students with a special “itch” for starting-up, from some of the IVY league colleges of the west have inspired an entire generation of start-up jocks across the world. A lot of them in their early 20’s or 30’s. The age of optimism, belief and hope. The age which defies weary pragmatism that life at an older age burdens you down and wonderfully gives your dreams courageous wings. But at the same time, only a fortunate few have the rooted values which temper their flight with earthy wisdom. The combination which is ideal for long-term sustainable success.

What makes Uber an up-start Vs Air BnB sustainable start-up success is that the earlier one is a positioning brand and the later one a purposive brand.

(2) Culture eats strategy for breakfast & Purpose serves culture for breakfast every day:

What really matters is whether you have a people centric purpose in place for your brand at the earliest stage of your start-up?. Even investors like 3m, Tiger Fund, Sequia etc; need to start evaluating whether the investment seeking start-ups have a purposive culture in place or they will find failures like Uber & Housing.Com to invest in, only to repent later.

Purpose takes the Vision (usually a uni-dimensional corporate money & market share statement) & Mission (usually an even boring & superficial action plan with esteem and respect thrown-in for fuck’s sake) and tempers it with culture & consumer centricity. It makes the business acknowledge that it needs to do “X” for people and mean “Y” to people & make a difference of “Z” to people in their lives to actually achieve its vision. It makes a corporate Mission “consumer-active” at its core and save it from being relegated to Annual Reports and Banal Corporate PR exercises.

Purpose also takes the hidden human values of the founders (start-ups or otherwise) and helps temper the way they do business.

Purpose enforces a business to understand that it is a part of a social eco-system and hence is accountable to the people (Citizens, Employees, Consumers, Partners & Suppliers and even the other silent citizens of planet earth).

A purpose grounds you via making you “re-frame” your business with people centricity.

When you purpose your business, organization & brand – you add emotional & cultural-maturity to your organization, no matter what the age or background of the founder(s) or the organization.

Purpose enforces you & your organization to have a positive culture right from the start.

(3) Purpose purges an organization of any cultural-ills:

A lot of businessmen think all this talk of culture is soft & sensitive-@%#&, well until they read the case of Uber again.

Uber from all that we read was a self-drunk silicon valley narcissist, which never woke-up to the warning-bells that a lack of an internal culture rang.

Ex-Women employees blogged about sexism at work (conveniently ignored and covered-up with some corporate mumbo-jumbo), a few individual women-consumers complained form India and the USA – they hoped that the so called short-term memory of media and consumers would let things pass.

But what they did not understand is that not having a people centric purpose made them a cultural-villain both internally and externally. Finally society (which is the primary stake-holder of the profit of any organization) neutered Uber in a particular geography to begin with. The lack of UK licence is going to impact its opportunity even in Singapore and elsewhere.

On the other hand lets take a look another shared-economy tech-brand Air BnB. Air BnB did not start with a purpose. It is not a Purpose-Driven Brand like Amul (Of India) or Tesla. But when it interrogated its user data in the process of building its brand, it realised that there were people who were using it because it was “cheaper” (never discount the brand, discount the price), there were people who were using it for “last minute booking” (can always be dealt with via appropriate digital interventions) and then there were a smaller segment of people (initially) who were using it to “Live Like the Locals” & experience that particular country’s culture closer. Air BnB wisely chose to build its brand around the 3rd set of people.

When they realised that the “new citizens of a borderless world” wanted to “belong anywhere” one of the biggest barriers to belonging anywhere were the biases of the hosts. Ethnic, Cultural, Geographic & Economic biases and hence it decide to campaign for elimination of biases and acceptance.

This business led people & culture centric brand purpose has made it an inspirational brand and not merely an aspiration brand.

Now ask yourselves, if an organization was consciously championing the elimination of biases would it anymore be a myopic, narcissistic and insensitive brand?.

Whats even more wonderful is that in the world of Brexit, Trump etc; do they not naturally make a larger humanitarian point leading to brand love?

Will they ever lose an operating licence like Uber did?

If India’s very own Housing.Com had purposed itself, would the young founder not have been more people centric and developed a better EQ?

(4) Purpose dictates recruitment culture & hence the culture with which we treat our consumers/customers:

Apple which “exists to infuse creativity into a world of data” and Google “Which exists to help organise the world’s data help people make more informed choices and live an enhanced everyday life” (of something to similar to that). It is rumoured these brands recruit people basis their purposes.

Apple does not recruit engineers with pedigree, it recruits engineers who can simplify technology and have human empathy. Google recruits people who dont add to the complexity of data, but simplify it for people. What if Uber had a purpose and recruited people (cabbies or employees) with a larger human sensitivity. I am 100% sure that the UK disaster would have not happened.

I would bet that Air BnB will recruit people who are not culturally or ethnically biased and hence are better placed to help fight these biases from their heart.

A brand promise is delivered by how you live & breathe the promise internally. A purposive approach actually helps put people centricity at the core and helps procreate a positive culture internally, which also manifests itself externally.

(5) Purpose is even more essential to technology start-ups:

Technology does not have people at its core. Technology at its core can be a cold and human-isolated approach. Was it meant to be no, but is it practiced or taught in an isolated manner – yes!. Let’s ask ourselves, should tech colleges also not teach philosophy. How better to temper the fears of AI take over than to code with a conscience. Purpose Tech with Philosophy.

All organisations young or old need to purpose their brand, but tech-companies especially need to purpose their brands. Philosophy might not be food, but as data shows purpose is profitability. Mutual profitability for a brand and all its people.

#wolfSIGHTS #PurposeInProgress #WolfzHowl @wolfzhowl

Purpose procreates positive culture internally and externally and endows a brand with social capital, which leads to sustainability.


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