On Monday, Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick had the tech industry’s attention on the TechCrunch Disrupt stage as he recounted the origins of his entrepreneurial grit and his company’s trials and tribulations. Kalanick also announced that Uber creates 50,000 jobs per month and denied suggestions that Uber might acquire other companies in the near future.
But just outside the main stage’s room, amidst dozens of startup booths — mostly tiny tables, actually — one startup caught attendees’ attention with its peculiar name: Although this company is called Mowares, it described itself as “Uber for X.”
The company’s product is exactly as it sounds — all the basic tech underlying Uber’s business, bundled for you to purchase and use. Mowares is targeting budding entrepreneurs who wish to start up an on-demand business of whatever kind, as well as business owners who want to extend their offerings with an on-demand service à la Uber.
Mowares’ co-founders told VentureBeat that its package, for $400, comes with two white-labeled iOS apps, two white-labeled Android apps, hosting by Mowares, plus a lifetime of free app updates. From there, Mowares’ customers can create any business they want: Uber for trucks, Uber for tutors, Uber for mechanics, Uber for condoms, Uber for prostitutes … all of whom are real Mowares customers.
If an entrepreneur were to build this technology from scratch, it would require six months of work, and well beyond $400 in programmer wages and other development costs. Those kinds of resources are something many small business owners don’t have, as Mowares told me.
But with Mowares’ clone app — yes, the team clones their tech for each customer — entrepreneurs can be up and running the moment they put their other logistics in place.
The Mowares founder I spoke with said that their customers, currently at about 100, are all over the world, and some are even competing in categories with well-known players, such as cars on demand.
This isn’t the Mowares founders’ first rodeo. Back in 2009, they ran the same service for Groupon clones. Today, more than 6,000 sites have built on their Groupon-like technology. (A quick Google search for daily deals sites shows that many of them are in India.) So it’s not surprising that the four-month old company was completely bootstrapped and is already cash flow positive.
Moreover, some of the companies that purchased their Groupon clone tech went on to raise investments. Mowares keeps its customers’ names secret, so as not to put them at risk of getting in trouble with their investors.
While Mowares didn’t go on the big stage to present at Disrupt, they made an impression, both for good and bad reasons. New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose noticed the company’s sign because, let’s face it, it’s the epitome of how we think and talk about startups these days.
At the same time, while selling web and data tools used to take Google-level resources to build, many startups have been simplifying complex technology and bringing it to the masses. That’s what Mowares is doing in its own very special way.
While I hope the tech industry continues to invent brand new things for as long as it lives and breathes, the existence of companies like Moware may signal a new normal in the consumer economy. These days, most small businesses have a website and many have a mobile app, but it didn’t used to be the case. From where I’m standing, it seems that mobile, on-demand services are becoming the new “website” for businesses.