By now, it’s clear that we will see “Uber for [x]” companies until there is indeed an Uber for everything. Here is the latest one: LockedOut — an Uber for locksmiths.
The locksmith experience is pretty much on-demand already, but LockedOut founder Ray Wang argues that the locksmith market (especially in New York, where the service is now in beta) isn’t exactly great. According to Wang, locksmiths will often advertise very low rates and then pull a bait-and-switch on the unsuspecting customer, telling them that they also have to completely replace the lock, for example.
Wang, who previously founded the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield participant Nimbusbase in 2013 (which was later acqui-hired by xAd), also argues that many of the locksmith companies on the market today are basically lead gen companies that will advertise on Google and then sell the lead to others.
All of this doesn’t exactly make for a great customer experience. So LockedOut is taking the Uber model by charging its users a flat $75 fee for getting you back into your home or car. To order a locksmith, you use LockedOut’s iOS app, though it will also offer some of its services on the Web.
The company is working with independent locksmiths in New York. They are all certified and licensed, and in addition to lockouts, they will also soon offer lock installations and car key duplications. The company plans to expand to new markets after it concludes its New York trial.
The problem with this idea, of course, is that you don’t exactly need regular access to a locksmith (and if you do, now is probably a good time to tell your doctor about that). Unless you’ve already installed the app on your phone, chances are you will just call a regular locksmith service that has a decent Yelp rating and move on with your life.
When others often advertise $19 rates and LockedOut charges $75, it’ll also have a hard time getting people to use its seemingly more expensive service, even if the locksmith is guaranteed to be licensed and tracked by GPS as he makes his way to your house.
LockedOut will have to spend a lot on search ads if it wants to be able to compete with the incumbents in this market. There is, however, definitely a market for a more comprehensive on-demand app for these kinds of jobs. Companies like Handy.com already have an established user base, however, and could also easily add locksmith services to their portfolio.