The pandemic is not an egalitarian force.
While they're both exceptional examples of startup success, DoorDash and Airbnb surmounted deep-pocketed incumbents and entrenched status quos — hotels and food delivery by restaurants themselves — to build platforms that people physically interact with millions of times a year. They were long shots that turned into juggernauts.
As DoorDash CEO Tony Xu contends, the San Francisco-based company's primary goal is to boost businesses in your neighborhood:
From the beginning, the DoorDash mission has been to help grow and empower local economies. And today, as we become a public company, that mission has never been more important.
Keep informed on indie businesses taking on Big Tech:
Yet, if Airbnb and DoorDash serve as examples, there are billions of dollars on the table for tech products that address physical needs. Certainly, the road could be harder — and more expensive — but it may be lined in gold.
And indeed, as businesses began adapting to lockdown conditions back in April, two of the indie hacker products that made headlines solved physical, and not digital, problems. Namely:
Much has been written about peoples' struggles to cut their hair in a world in which barbershops are closed due to lockdown. You Probably Need a Haircut addresses this problem by pairing these people with skilled barbers who coach them through the process via video chat. The customers pay $18, and the platform itself takes a $3.60 cut. Timely, smart, and simple.
Software products that solve software problems are the rule, and it will probably stay that way. But I'm certain there are plenty of indie hackers quietly solving physical problems that we'd all benefit from knowing about.
If this is you, or if you know of any, please share. I'd love to follow up on this down the road.