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  • Writer's pictureJoe Nigro

History Repeating Itself: Opportunities in Service Marketplaces with Chat

In a previous company, I kicked off our initial beta by building a SMS chat-bot that connected workers with local job opportunities. There seemed to be a craze back in 2016 that fizzled away. Like most startups early on, we evolved into a totally different product by building 'one-click' technology for job applications. That SMS model has stuck with me as the tech stacks we initially built the original product on top of are more advanced and consumers are now stretched too thin to engage with elegant native experiences. Will there be a resurgence of old models that were built to engage consumers?

There is such a thing as 'app fatigue' and I have a funny feeling the startups that realize the most downloaded and used apps in the world are innately chat-oriented will win. According to this 2021 research, the average mobile user will spend 3 hours and 10 minutes each day on their phone. Apps account for 90% of this time. However, despite the fact that the typical smartphone has 80+ apps downloaded, consumers only engage with 9 mobile apps per day and 30 apps per month. 62% of installed apps are not utilized on a monthly basis. As a matter of fact, 25% of programs are only used once after being downloaded and never opened again.

This has me thinking about driving true engagement with experiences that connect with human behavior out the gate. The alternative is re-creating the wheel with new UX and consumer learnings to do what they want. My bet is taking a vertical approach to whatever industry (likely a service marketplace) that has large, overbuilt tech incumbents and bring back SMS and/or chat to service all the needs for a consumer. I believe history will repeat itself and entrepreneurs who go back to 2016 will be rewarded. I'd love to hear what you think.


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