Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Why that first Uber (driver) trip never happened

When I became an Uber driver, as part of my entrepreneurial therapy program, I faced a tough situation: when a participant does the work beforehand, prepares and engages in becoming the protagonist, then finds himself stalled before that first trip.

Such condition is known by Uber staff, as reported by Ed Baker, former Uber Head of Product:

“For me, it was eye-opening when I did my first trip as a driver. I walked out to my car, I have done everything, I was activated. I walked out to my car [and] I walked back to my house because I got so nervous about doing that first trip.” (Ed Baker @ Greylock Partnets, 2017, 14m9s)

This idea became clear to me actually even before I saw the above note from Ed. It was a friend that became a driver and knowing that I am an entrepreneur simply called me asking me to make a simulation app for a first Uber trip — one that could create a fictitious trip in the streets.

“And that is when it suddenly hit me — this is why, you know, so many of our drivers who are activated never do that first trip” (Ed Backer @ Greylock partners, 2017, 14m23s)

Ed’s insight, that mostly appeared after he decided to become an Uber driver, is a revelation and reminder for us. One that signals the importance for us to enhance the way we are learning, specially in the digital world.

It became more clear how much we are living in the meta-learning world: Learning about the learning or keeping such a distance from practice. And then when the practice is there it mostly invites the trainee to be tested about the actual learnings using narratives and communication far from the practice domains.

Perhaps this gulf is so apparent for me because I am digging in the realm of the online-offline world? I mean, if painting can be learned via painting why Uber driving can’t be learned via driving? I found the same struggling situation when I have engaged in becoming a mentor for Coursera: The actual training course had exercises that were trying to create stories of what happens, as opposite to having the situations appearing in a simulated environment.

I hope this exercise is a good reflection for us entrepreneurs and founders, aiming for us to better shape our systems and to consider the means between theory and the real world and perhaps explore better new ideas with shorter cycles of engagement.


Greylock Partners, 2017, Growth Panel with Gustaf Alströmer and Ed Baker, moderated by Josh Elman | The Scaleup Offsite 2017.

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