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Attempting to reform gig work via co-ops

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Ride-hailing service The Drivers Cooperative recently debuted in New York City, claiming that its lack of VC funding would result in better driver pay and lower passenger costs.

Why it matters: TDC’s approach is a direct rebuke to the venture capital-fueled gig economy model.


Details: The organization is incorporated as a “worker cooperative corporation” and currently lets every signed-up driver enroll as a member of the co-op, which means receiving one share in the company and one shareholder vote.

  • The co-op takes a 15% cut of rides (compared to Uber and Lyft’s roughly 20%) to fund its operations, and any leftovers at the end of the year will go back to drivers via profit-sharing.
  • The company says its drivers currently make on average about 30% more than they would driving for Uber or Lyft, and that riders pay slightly less.

The big picture: A number of companies have tried (and often failed) to reform the model popularized by Uber and Lyft, including:

  • Juno: The NYC-born startup promised it would give drivers equity in its company. It eventually sold to U.K.-based Gett and backtracked on its equity promise because regulators wouldn’t allow it.
  • Austin’s indies: A crop of upstarts, including a nonprofit and a Facebook group matching drivers and riders, emerged in Austin a few years ago when Uber and Lyft ceased operating for a year.
  • Dumpling: The startup, which charges drivers a monthly fee for using its app instead of taking a cut from each transaction, recently expanded into ride-hailing after getting its start in grocery delivery. Unfortunately, it’s reportedly also run afoul of some workers with changes made to its apps.

Between the lines: “We’re actually selling things for the price that they cost,” says TDC co-founder Erik Forman, adding that Uber and Lyft’s lack of profits are a sign that their approach isn’t actually working.

  • The argument for the venture-backed model has been that it takes a lot of upfront capital to set up operations and grow very quickly to capture market share and compete with rivals.
  • That’s also meant price wars on all fronts — including price cuts for riders and earnings bumps for drivers — which has mostly been financed by venture capital for the first several years of a company’s life.
  • TDC has only raised about $300,000 via mostly debt and is preparing to raise just over $1 million.

And it’s not the only one to take this approach. Driver’s Seat, an app for drivers to collect and analyze data about their hours and earnings, is also set up as a cooperative. While free for drivers, it sells access to aggregate data and insights to municipalities.

  • Co-founder Hays Witt says the aim is to give drivers back some ownership and control over their work data.

Yes, but: It remains to be seen how a smaller, local upstart can fare in the face of multibillion-dollar public companies that are already household names.

  • While its brand can certainly appeal to many drivers’ and passengers’ sense of using a more “ethical” service, some will undoubtedly prefer convenience or sticking with the familiar.
  • And while Forman sees the technology as a commodity, companies like Uber and Lyft spend tremendous resources on developing, maintaining and fine-tuning their apps to keep drivers and riders happy.

The bottom line: Uber and Lyft proved there’s a market for smartphone-enabled urban transportation — but the quest to meet that demand via a radically different approach to business is ongoing.

Source: https://www.axios.com/reform-gig-work-co-ops-ride-hailing-uber-lyft-ee4848cf-d80c-4fa7-9297-10a19b23196d.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Kia Kokalitcheva

How to Start a Concierge Business

Starting a concierge business is a great idea! People are busier than ever these days, and you can provide a much-needed service by helping them take care of things like errands and other tasks. Even better, you can run this business out of your home and you don’t need anyone other than yourself. You can always grow your team after you find your niche and become successful.

[Edit]Steps

[Edit]Business Organization

  1. Select which services you will offer. A personal concierge can offer a wide variety of services for their clients. Write down exactly what sort of concierge you want to be and what you will do. For example, maybe you are going to be a personal concierge that assists with errands and household tasks. You might include services like:[1]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • Grocery shopping
    • Picking up/dropping off dry cleaning
    • Purchasing and sending gifts
    • Walking dogs
    • Caring for plants
  2. Focus on a niche where you can excel. You might start by offering a wide array of services and discover that you are better at some than others. You might also find that you really love doing some things and really dislike some others. It’s definitely okay to adjust your services as you grow your business. Find a niche where you can really do well and focus on expanding that area of your business.[2]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • For example, maybe you discover that you’re getting a lot of great feedback about your gift buying services. Start developing that part of your business by adding more customizable options and doing more marketing in that area.
  3. Give your clients a high standard of service so they refer you to others. You want each client to feel like they are your most important. Try adding an extra touch, like leaving a personal note when you drop off their groceries or spending an extra few minutes playing with their dog. When your clients give you positive feedback, ask if they would mind leaving a positive review on social media or giving your name to a friend.[3]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • You can use these positive reviews in marketing and advertising your business.
  4. Get basic office equipment and reliable internet to run your business. Make sure that you have a cell phone that gets good reception so that your clients can easily reach you. You’ll also need a laptop with a stable internet connection so that you can work on your website and keep your accounts up to date. You don’t need much in the way of office furniture, especially if it’s just you starting your own business. If you have other employees, you might consider renting office space.[4]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • You can print your promotional materials at a place like a FedEx or UPS store that offers professional printing so that you don’t have to invest in your own equipment.
  5. Expect to work non-traditional hours. A good concierge should be available when clients need them. That means that you shouldn’t plan to work a traditional 9-5 job. Depending on what types of services you offer, you might find yourself working early mornings, evenings, weekends, and even holidays.[5]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • It’s also important to understand that most of your days will probably be different from each other. For example, you might have 7 clients on Mondays, but only 1 on Tuesdays. Use your downtime to work on things like billing and marketing.

[Edit]Finances and Insurance

  1. Draft a basic business plan to help define your business. You can develop a thorough plan at some point, but to get started, write a short plan that is about 10 pages. This will help you get a concrete idea of what your business will look like. You’ll be able to show it to others as you work to get the permits and insurance that you’ll need to get going. Make sure your business plan includes:[6]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • Your business concept
    • Market analysis
    • Financial analysis
  2. Consult an expert about legal requirements for setting up a business. When you start a business, you need to determine if you should set it up as an LLC or an S corp. You also need to make sure that you get all of the local permits that are required. Sound confusing? It’s not just you that feels that way, so don’t worry. You’re not expected to know these things, so take a deep breath and ask someone who is an expert. Ask an attorney, your accountant, or tax preparer for advice.[7]
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    • Share your business plan with them and ask them to help you navigate specific resources that you need for a concierge business. Your needs are probably different from someone opening up a cafe, for example.
    • Check city hall’s website for resources for starting a new business in your community. You’ll find lots of resources there, too.
    • Don’t shrug off getting permits. If you don’t have them, you could get in trouble for not properly setting up your business.
  3. Call your insurance agent to get coverage for your business. Even if you’re the only employee and you’re working from home, your personal insurance won’t cover your business. Call or email your insurance carrier and ask about business coverage. They might need to see your business plan, so be prepared to send them what you have. Ask them to walk you through different coverage options and the rates for each.[8]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 8 Version 2.jpg
    • Explain to the agent where your business will be located, how many employees will be working there, and answer any questions they have. This will help them understand your needs for your concierge business.
    • Get quotes from a couple of other agents. It never hurts to shop around a little for great rates. You can usually get a quick quote by visiting a website or making a phone call.
  4. Open business banking and credit accounts. Even though it might seem easier, don’t use your personal accounts to run your business. It will make things a lot easier at tax time and for general record-keeping if you keep things separate right from the start. Call or visit your bank and ask them to help you get set up with business accounts.[9]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • For a business credit card, ask for one with a low APR and perks like cashback.
  5. Charge hourly rates for customers who use your services occasionally. As a concierge, you may have customers who contact you a few times a week or maybe a couple of times a year. For these types of clients, it’s probably a good idea to set up an hourly rate schedule. Determine your rates in advance and include them on your website. It’s okay to have different rates for different services. When your figure out your rates, take into account the difficulty of the task, whether you need transportation or equipment, and the going rate in your area.[10]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 10 Version 2.jpg
    • For example, you might charge $25 an hour for light housekeeping, but only $20 an hour for basic house sitting services that include bringing in mail and watering plants.
    • Typically, concierge services range from $25 per hour to $125 depending on the service and the market.
  6. Offer monthly rates for regular clients. You may attract clients that want to take advantage of many of your services on a regular basis. In this case, you will both probably find it easier if they pay a flat monthly fee rather than billing them by the hour. You can determine a maximum number of hours that you will work and make that part of the agreement. Make it clear on your website what a monthly rate includes.[11]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 11.jpg
    • For example, you could advertise a “Premium Package” that includes weekly errands, light housekeeping, and other tasks for $1500.
  7. Adjust your pricing as necessary. Once you’ve started taking clients you might realize that you have set your prices too low and you’re not making enough money. Or you might see the opposite and find out you’ve set prices too high and you’re having a hard time attracting clients. Don’t be afraid to adjust your prices as necessary. Starting a business is a learning curve.[12]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 12.jpg

[Edit]Marketing and Advertising

  1. Come up with a memorable name for your business. The name is going to be what people use to find your business, so try to come up with one that is catchy and descriptive. It should let people know what your business does and also be something that they will easily be able to recall.[13]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 13.jpg
    • Something like Paul’s Personal Concierge Service lets customers know that they will receive personal attention and the alliteration might help them remember it.
    • Run a quick Google search to make sure there is not already a business with the name you want to use.
  2. Build a basic website that is easy for customers to use. This might sound really tough, but don’t worry. There are lots of tools available to help you if you’ve never set up a website before. You can use an online platform like Weebly or Wix that will help you build a website for free.[14]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 14.jpg
    • You can also hire a professional to build and maintain your website for you if this is something you really don’t want to tackle.
  3. Use social media to attract customers. Social media is one of the best ways to advertise your new business because you can easily reach a wide audience and it’s free. Set up accounts for your business on popular sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin. Make sure to include important information like how to contact you and what services you provide in your bio.[15]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 15.jpg
    • Keep your posts professional and positive. Try an Instagram post that is a photo of a dog with the caption, “Does your best friend need some extra company while you work? Call Paul’s Personal Concierge Service! Available for pet care and all of your other personal assistant needs!”
  4. Ask everyone you know to spread the word about your new business. Word of mouth is another effective and free way to get new customers. Encourage family and friends to tell people about your new business. Let them know the important details, like the name, contact info, and services you provide.[16]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 16.jpg
    • Say something like, “Hey, it seems like the people you work with might be interested in a personal concierge. Would you mind hanging up one of my flyers in your break room?”

[Edit]Tips

  • Ask other small business owners in your area for tips about getting started.
  • Make sure you have reliable transportation for running errands.

[Edit]References

  1. https://theworkathomewife.com/how-to-start-a-personal-concierge-service-business/
  2. https://theconciergesociety.com/starting-a-personal-concierge-business-my-take-after-12-years-in-business/
  3. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/personal-concierge
  4. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  5. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  6. https://theworkathomewife.com/how-to-start-a-personal-concierge-service-business/
  7. https://theworkathomewife.com/how-to-start-a-personal-concierge-service-business/
  8. https://theconciergesociety.com/starting-a-personal-concierge-business-my-take-after-12-years-in-business/
  9. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/personal-concierge
  10. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  11. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  12. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  13. https://seniorservicebusiness.com/how-to-start-a-senior-concierge-business-in-10-easy-steps/
  14. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/personal-concierge
  15. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/personal-concierge
  16. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930

Source: https://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Concierge-Business
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Contractors, Beware: This Robot Is Coming for Your Job

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It’s been hard to automate construction and home improvement. While there is plenty of room for robots on the worksite, I doubt any of us have seen anything quite like the Baubot, a construction bot that can carry heavy loads, lay bricks, and even sand sheetrock, feats once only performed by folks in hardhats and…

Read more…

Source: https://gizmodo.com/contractors-beware-this-robot-is-coming-for-your-job-1846681399
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The Article Was Written/Published By: John Biggs

Biden Warns Amazon to Stop Intimidating Warehouse Workers Ahead of Union Vote

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Joe Biden has effectively endorsed ongoing unionization efforts at an Amazon facility in the state of Alabama and warned the e-commerce giant that its efforts to shut down the drive must involve “no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda.”

Read more…

Source: https://gizmodo.com/biden-warns-amazon-to-stop-intimidating-warehouse-worke-1846383792
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tom McKay

UK Supreme Court says Uber drivers are not independent contractors

UK Supreme Court says Uber drivers are not independent contractors

Enlarge (credit: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has ruled that Uber drivers are legally workers, not self-employed contractors as Uber has argued in courts around the world. The ruling means that drivers in Britain and Northern Ireland are eligible for additional benefits and protections, including a minimum wage.

Uber claims that it merely acts as a technology provider and broker between independent drivers and their customers—much as eBay facilitates sales between buyers and sellers. In Uber’s view, this means that it doesn’t owe its drivers benefits like unemployment insurance, doesn’t need to reimburse drivers for their costs, and isn’t bound by minimum wage and overtime rules. Uber emphasizes that its drivers are free to decide when, where, and how much they work.

But critics point out that Uber exerts a lot more control over its drivers—and over the driver-passenger relationship—than a conventional platform like eBay or Airbnb. Uber sets fares, collects payments from customers, deducts its own fee, and remits the remainder to the driver. It requires drivers to accept a large majority of the rides they are offered. It handles customer complaints and kicks drivers off the platform if their average rating falls too low.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/02/uk-supreme-court-says-uber-drivers-are-not-independent-contractors/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Timothy B. Lee

Facebook’s Content Moderators Have Had Enough

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In spite of coronavirus cases continuing to climb around the world, Facebook’s legions of contracted content moderators are still required to work out of offices “to maintain Facebook’s profits during the pandemic.” This is according to an open letter published on the company’s internal Workplace communication…

Read more…

Source: https://gizmodo.com/facebooks-content-moderators-have-had-enough-1845707520
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Shoshana Wodinsky

E-sports pros have “dream” jobs—but game publishers have all the power

James Eubanks competes during a <em>Call of Duty</em> final in 2017.

Enlarge / James Eubanks competes during a Call of Duty final in 2017. (credit: Chesnot | Getty Images)

In 2008, James “Clayster” Eubanks, then 16, decided he had what it took to be the number one Call of Duty player in the world. Growing up in Virginia, Eubanks owned all the latest consoles and specced-out gaming PCs; his house was the first on the block to have DSL. Now, he put all that practice to use, grinding up the Call of Duty ranks every single day, balancing his competitive ambitions against school, part-time jobs, girls. Playing the game professionally wasn’t an established career path yet, but there eventually came to be a loose circuit of tournaments. “It was really hectic,” Eubanks says. “But it became more and more sophisticated as the years have gone on.” Every year, tournament prizes got a little bigger. The competition got harder. He got more famous.

Then, the esports industry ballooned, as the massive popularity of League of Legends and Starcraft II esports kicked off a wave of big-money sponsorships and international stadium events. Publisher Activision began looking at competitive Call of Duty through a new lens. In 2020, Activision launched the Call of Duty League: 12 teams with five players each, representing 12 different cities around the world. As a top competitor playing on the Dallas Empire, Eubanks helped his team take the first Call of Duty League championship in July. He was thrilled. Then everything changed.

In August, Activision decided that professional Call of Duty games should be four-versus-four, not five-versus-five. Twenty percent of the league’s players had to go. Days after his big victory, the Dallas Empire dropped Eubanks, who had been designated fifth on the roster. “Got about 24 hours of happiness before I got thrown back into the blender, but that’s the story of my career,” Eubanks wrote on Twitter.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1705539
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The Article Was Written/Published By: WIRED

Pinterest: 200+ employees hold virtual walkout over gender and race discrimination

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Today, 236 employees at Pinterest virtually “walked out” to express solidarity with three former colleagues who said they experienced gender and race discrimination at the social media company.

From the New York Times:

Many of the employees also shared and signed an online petition calling on Ben Silbermann, Pinterest’s chief executive and co-founder, to change the company’s policies.

Then they logged off, staging a virtual walkout.

The series of actions were the latest in a growing employee movement of discrimination lawsuits, harassment accusations and walkouts over injustices across the tech industry and the investors who fund it.

The Pinterest accusations stand out because they include some of the highest-ranking executives at the $21 billion company. In a lawsuit this week, Françoise Brougher, Pinterest’s former chief operating officer, accused the company of sex discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination. When she spoke up about a sexist remark from a colleague, she was fired, the lawsuit alleges. She followed the suit with a lengthy blog post, “The Pinterest Paradox: Cupcakes and Toxicity,” which was widely shared in tech circles.

“We know we have real work to do and recognize that it’s our job to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for everyone,” says Pinterest.

Read more at the New York Times.

Here is the petition to Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest.
Put an end to all forms of discrimination and retaliation at Pinterest

Source: https://boingboing.net/2020/08/14/pinterest-200-employees-hold.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Xeni Jardin

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