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3 Services That Could be Uberised in Singapore

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Joanne Poh

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Singaporeans are always complaining about having insufficient money, insufficient time, or both. That’s why services like Grab and Uber make so much sense. Those who want to make spare cash can drive people around for money, while those who don’t want to waste time on public transport can be their customers.

So the recent news report about the runaway success of Schoolber, a service that lets parents drive other people’s kids to school at the same time they drop off their own offspring, was unsurprising.

After all, it’s old news that Singapore parents are very, very squeezed these days—long hours at work and most young households being dual-income means that just finding an extra 30 minutes to send your kid to school at 6:30am is a challenge when you’ve got to be at the office at 9 and you only slept 4 hours last night.

Which leads us to wonder what other services could be “Uberised”? I sure wouldn’t mind paying someone to reply to emails for me, and I’m sure somewhere out there there is a secondary school kid willing to do it… okay seriously though, here are a couple of services which the power of the sharing economy might someday make possible.

 

Tuition pooling

Singapore’s tuition industry is worth over a billion dollars, and 7 in 10 parents send their students for tuition. That alone should indicate the size of the potential market.

While some parents send their kids to tuition centres or to their tutors’ homes, there are many who prefer the tutor to make the trip to their homes.

Tuition pooling match kids and tutors in a particular area. For instance, if there are three kids in a particular condo who need Sec 2 math tuition, they can agree to meet in the homes of one of the kids, or to rotate.

The tutor can then head down to that condo and teach all three kids at the same time. The parents save money since group lessons cost less per person. The teacher also wins because his hourly rate is higher, with the cost split between three kids.

 

Odd job pooling

Judging by how much some Singaporeans rely on their maids, we’re a pretty time-starved bunch who just don’t have the energy to do simple things for ourselves. Ask five random people when was the last time they cooked a meal for themselves and you’ll see what I mean.

Most Singaporeans get only about 14 days of leave, which really isn’t a lot. Having to burn your weekend to send your car for inspection when all the VICOM branches are located in such ulu areas is annoying. Heading to Popular to pick up a set of assessment books for your kid is troublesome when it means you need to burn a weeknight.

Just as Uber now has UberEATs, which allows people to outsource food delivery to Uber drivers for a fee, Singaporeans can start pooling their odd jobs. You may not have the time to send your cat to the vet during office hours, but somewhere out there, there is someone who’s not working that day and who doesn’t mind earning a few extra bucks for the trip.

 

Wedding photographers portal

Pre-wedding photoshoots and a photographer or two on the actual day are a significant cost for couples planning a wedding. Couples should be prepared to spend a few thousand dollars on a professional photographer with a good portfolio.

Some couples try to cut corners by just going with the bargain basement photographer offered up by bridal shops. That’s often a grave mistake, as this couple, who ended up with hilariously bad photos, learnt the hard way.

If you don’t want to shell out top dollar for a studio but still want someone whose work you admire to take your photos, what do you do? A wedding photography portal might be the answer.

There are lots of talented amateurs in Singapore who shoot at friends’ weddings occasionally, but aren’t in the trade full-time and thus don’t have the fancy websites and phone hotlines that the pros do. Some are still university students, while others are advanced amateurs.

These photographers charge a fraction of what the pros do, but many of them take photos that are zillions of times better than what bridal shops offer. A portal for amateur wedding photographers would enable couples to browse portfolios on one convenient site, and then contact the photographers of their choice through the site.

The advantage is that couples can browse the portfolios of talented amateurs who charge a lot less than the pros, while getting a clear idea of their rates. Art is subjective, and if a couple thinks the work of an amateur is good enough when he’s charging 50% less than what a full-fledged wedding photography studio is asking, more power to them.

We’re sure some of these services are already covered by several mobile apps. Which ones are your favourite? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credit: Jason Howie

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.