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NYC: On-demand in the palm of your hand

Posted on Sunday, 9th December, 2012

Time has become a luxury in our fast paced world & some of us don’t want to use it trying to find out how to get things accomplished. Back in the day CraigsList was our answer for everything “classifieds-related” when we had a need, but over the past 2 years we have seen mobile tech/platforms bring individual solutions into the palm of our hand.

My Twitter stream & inbox are overflowing with the over-discussed the trend of mobile connectivity and how everything we have known in the past has been reimagined to work in the palm of our hand, to add to the positive arsenal of tools we use to get through the day—see Mary Meeker’s latest 2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for more evidence of that.

Being a NY’er (and someone who focuses on digital marketing & technology) I know the majority of us move pretty fast- walking, talking, working… my to-do list seems to get longer every week and I’m always looking for new and convenient ways of getting stuff done, NOW.

My top-5

Here’s a macro view of the top 5 categories of mobile products that have aided my on-demand lifestyle in NYC. When evaluating, I’m always looking for mobile products wrapped in a consumer-centric service to make my experience better. Most times when things are positive, we just want to share what we like (hence this post).

Some apps I have been using for years/months, some are emerging & I think have major possibility—–clearly I have an arsenal of choices :)


By far the best on-demand mobile transportation app that has 100% changed my life over the last year since they introduced their NYC service last summer. Say you’re leaving Terminal 5 at 11:30pm on 56/11th, it’s raining & there’s not a cab in site? Or it’s a late night in the office and you cant keep your eyes open nevertheless walk outside to hail a cab while holding all the materials you have prepped for your client presentation in the morning—Uber to the rescue!

Find a driver in your vicinity, book a car and track them on your phone as they come to pick you up at your specified address to take you home! You’ll pay a premium for this service (average $10 more than a cab—sometimes more during rush hour when they impose “surge pricing” which can go 50% higher than normal)…but we’ve all been there and sometimes when you need to get home, you’ll pay anything. Aside from the ease of the car service itself, a frictionless payment transaction is baked into it—all payment/credit card info is saved in the app and they send you a email receipt—talk about ease of doing expense reports!

There are 20+ other NYC competitors including services like GroundLink although in full disclaimer, I have never used any others besides Uber. One benefit of  companies being 1st to market with a service is they gain the most loyalty (when their product is good!)





Local Tasks/Skills/Jobs

Redefining what we used to call “the classifieds”. Zaarly is a local marketplace of everything you could possibly need- NOW! Need help moving? A developer to fix your website in 3 hours? How about an executive assistant for 3 days? Or possibly a handyman…check out this great crowdsourced marketplace that focuses on everyday help, business services, creative services, home service repairs, lessons and education just to name a few.

There are a plethora of desktop optimized services like WWOMP and but in the age of “I need it now”- mobile seems like the most opportune channel for these services, like Zaarly & Task Rabbit.

I have used the Zaarly NYC service to find a bunch of UX designers, a personal assistant to do some things I just cant get to during the week and someone to fix my bathroom door, all within a few hours= happy Jess.

Cleaning Services (possibly a sub-set of the above)


Did your friends talk you into having an impromptu dinner party tomorrow night but your apartment might not be guest-ready? Parents coming into town unexpectedly after a long week? Hire an on demand cleaning service for $45/hour from GetMaid who will be at your apartment in 2 hours!

Similar to Uber, it has a frictionless payment service baked into the app with no need for paper payment exchange. An easy breezy approach to a sparkling tub & shining hardwood floors. While these on-demand mobile service might not disrupt behavior of those people who have bi-weekly cleaning automated through services like but I can see this service as a real saving grace when you need it! Currently servicing Manhattan and Brooklyn. Disclaimer- haven’t used yet but plan to!


Food delivery/dining locations
Seamless, & Foursquare

  Foursquare listsIt’s 8pm, you’ve been in a conference room for 8 hours and your team needs dinner to keep going.  A few services have capitalized on the NYC digital delivery trend for food— and Seamless were both originally designed for desktop years ago (and optimized for an experience across multiple mobile platforms 2+ years ago). Seamless, in particular has become a mainstay in my life ie: Pita Grill (a behavior I employ weekly in NYC when my fridge is void of healthy sustenance, I’ve had a long day or we’re looking for options for a late night team dinner at the office). In addition to NYC, Seamless covers 40 US cities and can filter by food, restaurant, rating or location (author note- please add vegan and gluten free, thanks!)

When I was visiting my parents in Delaware for Thankgiving, upon my arrival the night before the holiday, my parents asked me what I wanted for dinner and I pulled out my iPad to see what was available on Seamless. Notta. Nothing. I received the message “ no merchants are currently available in your area for delivery”. I was heartbroken.  Selfish author note #2- please Seamless, add Delaware to your list, soon. K thanks.

I used to use Foursquare just to check-in to places for a gaming aspect, then I started leaving reviews and tips b/c I saw how much I valued ones others had written. I now use this app more now to gain dining recommendations from my friends & people that I follow that have similiar tastes. Truth. I’ve actually started making to-do/to-eat lists in Foursquare. We’ve all been in the situation when we’re standing on a street corner in a neighborhood with a bunch of people and the inevitable “where should we go for dinner” question arises. Because I thought ahead to help myself later, I have on-demand recommendations saved in my app… be it for myself, a friend, or client– I have it ready to go in an easy-to-access list. Doesn’t get much better/easier than that.



Ebay’s Now App

Ho Ho Ho. Need a fake Christmas tree (or presents for your staff party) delivered to your door on a Sunday while you’re writing and simultaneously trying a new recipe? Download the new Now App from eBay that offers same-day delivery (in under an hour!!) across multiple NYC-based retailers like Walgreens, Home Depot, Best Buy and Urban Outfitters. I ran into the staff from eBay yesterday (literally) in the Meatpacking district while walking home from the gym.

This app brings true retail experience from your palm to your doorstep (similar to MaxDelivery a popular NYC delivery service for home goods, food, wine, etc…)








Cute set-up & great awareness, and hot chocolate! I think Edelman managed this mktg event- well done.

In return for downloading the app on-site, they gave me a $25 gift card for my 1st purchase. Additionally all customers receive $15 off their first purchase. Not too shabby. Can you guess what I ordered?












Living in NYC certainly provides its’ own challenges when it comes to living an on-demand lifestyle— these digital services offer great solutions that address our un-met needs which is the ultimate goal of any consumer-centric product.

What mobile products/services do you use in your on-demand lifestyle? I’d love to know- use the comment section below to share your thoughts/experiences.




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