“There’s Got to Be a Better Way!”
February 17, 2016
Henry Ford’s Model T put a lot of horses out of business. The PC killed the typewriter. Nowadays we have a term for that kind of thing: disruptive technology. In the broadest sense, a disruptive technology is a product or service that radically changes the way people do things. Lately, the rise of smartphones has been knocking down business models like dominos. And we’re loving it. So we thought we’d share some of our favorite disrupters.
Lila: One of my favorite parts of attending the social/philanthropic events that come with my job is the excuse to get dressed up. But owning a closet full of party dresses – worn twice at the most – is not a life goal. Rent the Runway to the rescue! It’s like having a friend your size with amazing clothes. Literally thousands of gorgeous designer pieces you can borrow for pennies on the dollar. The interface is clean and intuitive to browse on both desktop and mobile. A modest annual “Pro” account covers shipping, insurance – even cleaning. Just think of the shoes you can buy with what you’ll save!
Aaron: I’m a late adopter. I cling to outdated technologies the way barnacles cling to ships. I won’t upgrade my iPhone 4S until it cackles and melts like a wet wicked witch. But I’ve been a fan of podcasts right from the beginning. Back in the day, you’d have to subscribe on iTunes and download the latest issue – through a physical cable. How medieval is that? Today I get my podcasts through Stitcher, a free app which streams the latest episodes as soon as they’re published. You can also use it to channel your favorite radio station in real time, but why live in the present when you can go back and listen to the past 100 episodes of Hardcore History or Welcome to Night Vale? The only limit is your imagination – and the number of times you can stomach ads from Stamps.com.
Marisa: I’ve always loved looking at beautiful homes. Growing up, my parents would take my brother and me on Sunday drives to new developments. We’d spend hours making our way from one home to the next admiring every little detail. To this day, I do the same – only on Trulia. Its search feature allows you to save homes to customized boards – keeping your favorites earmarked and easily referenced.
Lindsey: After work, the last thing I want to do is cook, so I tend to subsist off a steady diet of Cheetos and pizza. (Me and my Dominos guy are super close.) Since most people don’t consider this a healthy diet, I’ve come to love apps that will send more acceptable food right to my door. Caviar is my absolute favorite. They partner with local restaurants (think Hot Italian, 58 Degrees and Ma Jong’s, not Olive Garden) and deliver orders quickly with a smile. The app is easy to use, making ordering a breeze, and their amazing customer service and attention to detail are the icing on an already delicious cake.
Chris: During the Paris attacks, I couldn’t stop watching the live video streams people were broadcasting with Periscope. I was getting on-the-spot video and commentary from people right there on the ground across from the concert hall and the other hot spots. Of course not all of its uses are that momentous. There are also random “Scopers” all around the world who at any given moment might be answering questions about their rap lyrics, getting ready for a night out in Rio, celebrating birthdays in Kiev or just hanging out online to chat. When there are interesting entertainment or sports events, I can usually get a Periscope feed to see first-hand, unfiltered, what’s really going down.
Alan: It’s not new or little-known, but Amazon Prime has been my biggest disrupter. It’s dramatically changed my shopping habits. I won’t go to the store to buy an item if I don’t need it at that moment. I’m comfortable waiting two days. It helps with that need for instant gratification. There’s also something to be said about the anticipation. It takes me back to the days of Sears and Roebuck, except now the wait is just 48 hours, not 48 days. Returns are ridiculously easy. No way would I be able to find a receipt for a nine-month warranty. On Amazon, it takes maybe five clicks. Oh, and by the way, did you know that at no extra cost, your membership comes with a streaming video service that rivals Netflix and has tons of fantastic original programming?
Luke: My favorite disrupter right now is Untappd, a social media app for people who like beer. It has a super intuitive interface and really big buttons for when you can’t see so well. The search function almost always has every beer I’m looking for and even recommends local places to find them. I actually go in search of beers I haven’t tried just to log them into my drink history. Try enough beers and you will unlock badges which you can flaunt at your beer buddies with less enterprising palates.