Is reducing choice tech's new move? A discussion with the CEO of Silvercar - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Aug. 21, 2015 10:58 am

Is reducing choice tech’s new move? A discussion with the CEO of Silvercar

Everyone's talking about simplicity and reducing friction these days. We check in with Silvercar, Push For Pizza and Down.

Gotta keep these guys safe.

(Photo courtesy of Silvercar)

Silvercar is a car rental company that only offers one option: the Audi A4, in silver.

There are no upgrades, no specs to choose between, no paperwork, and no other charges (though the price varies by market, from $59 to $99 per day). You can book a car in the company’s app. It’s about as simple as it gets.

“We think just about every consumer category is pushing toward simplicity, and more specifically, seamlessness,” Silvercar CEO Luke Schneider told Technical.ly.

Last year the company received $14 million in Series B investment. In June, it moved into Brooklyn, and makes its home at the McCarren Hotel, in Williamsburg. “The major consumer successes we’ve seen in the last few years have united both the digital and physical worlds in a seamless way to provide a better and more consistent product or experience for all customers,” he said.

Schneider listed a few companies he’s seen do well by radically simplifying a product. With Uber you can book a car service without calling or specifying your car, and without having to worry about cash. Sonos allows people to play music from their devices over WiFi, bypassing A/V cords and a whole stereo console.

“Companies that reduce friction capture value, and there is perhaps no more of a friction-filled industry than airport car rental: lines, counters, paperwork, tricky upsells, vehicle uncertainty (you can’t even book a car … you have to book a category of car), and the list goes on,” Schneider said. “With Silvercar, you can simply use your phone to skip all friction and hassle.”

Last year, an app came out of Brooklyn that was basically a button for ordering pizza. You only had two choices, plain or pepperoni. Push For Pizza is still around and, in fact, is growing.

“Silvercar does sound like it has a similar ethos to PFP [Push For Pizza],” Push For Pizza cofounder Cyrus Summerlin wrote via email:

Identify a customer’s need and fulfill that need as fast and as simply as possible. Silvercar only offers you one car, removing the friction point of choice, making it seem simple. … With PFP a customer can create an account and have a pizza on its way 30 seconds after downloading the app (the second time order takes 2 seconds). This is one thing that makes PFP stand out compared to other on demand/commerce and food apps, and what I take pride in.

Another app which explores simplicity is Down. With this app you can make an event and invite your friends, who either reply “Down” or “Not down.”

“We kind of just wanted a really easy way to let our friends know we wanted to do something,” Down founder Michael Kolodny said in an interview with Technical.ly in May.

“It sort of spun off of Yo as being just easy as saying ‘Yo.’ There are probably 50 or more people I would want to see, but there’s that structural barrier of texting. It’s a little personal,” he said. “With Down you don’t have to think of someone as a close enough friend to actually text them.”

The idea for Silvercar came from a frustrating rental car experience for the founders, Schneider said.

“The founders were disgusted by the white minivan they had been ‘upgraded’ to for their cool guys’ golf weekend,” he said. “With the fundamental realization that car rental hadn’t innovated in decades, and still couldn’t tell them something as basic as what kind of car they were getting, the concept of Silvercar was born.”

They chose the Audi A4 because Audi is a good brand, but also because it’s a smaller competitor to the mammoth German luxury brands Mercedes-Benz and BMW. They chose silver for two reasons: “It is the most popular color choice for premium vehicles, and 2) more than just a color, silver connotes a feeling of premium value as well as aspiration.”

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