I was recently in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, at a speaking engagement and, afterwards, I needed to get to the airport. Thanks to Uber, I was scooped up by Georgie, a 28-year-old guy from New Jersey. At first glance, it didn’t look like Georgie and I had much in common. He has a lot of tattoos and gauges in both ears, and I was wearing a suit… but it turned out we had a lot more in common than I realised.

During the journey, Georgie explained how we’re in the ‘Start-Up You’ economy, where you’re not depending on anyone else but yourself for cash. Georgie had been driving for Uber for four months after losing his job as a glass blower. A friend suggested he start driving for Uber, which he did, and could now pay his rent. Another friend told him about driving for Lyft, so he did that, too. Then, he learned that one of his best friends has a YouTube channel, with more than 4 million subscribers and makes $5 000 (more than R66 000) per day. He told Georgie to launch a YouTube channel and promised he’d mention his name on the channel.

Well, he did, and according to Georgie, he picked up 150 000 subscribers in five days. Georgie does regular updates on YouTube about whatever’s happening in the world. The moment he went over 100 000 subscribers, he started receiving a cheque from Google for $1 000 per 100 000 subscribers. He said YouTube sent him a plaque congratulating him on his accomplishment.

As we pulled into the airport, I realised Georgie had found a way to hack a job and make it in the digital economy. So, based on this experience, here are two observations:

MARRIED TO THE JOB BUT LOOKING People now realise they no longer need to have a ball-and-chain relationship with their employers. They can survive outside the matrix of uncertainty. Watch and see how many employees start cutting the cord just like cable-TV subscribers have been doing thanks to Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon.com, etc.

BE A GIGPRENEUR What’s the difference between an entrepreneur and a gigpreneur? An entrepreneur risks everything to start a business. They take out loans, use savings, seek investors, etc. A gigpreneur signs up with a company that has an existing platform, which can push customers to them via their smartphones, and they can be paid instantly. They don’t have the stress or nail-biting moments, wondering if they’ll work. They don’t pay for advertising. There’s no praying that someone will buy the products they’re hawking at the Saturday morning flea market when the weather outside is hot, or rainy, or cold.

Off the top of my head, I can think of six ways to make money by hacking together a series of jobs using someone else’s platform. Today, you can:

  1. Rent out a house, room or apartment via www.airbnb.com (and become an experience host)
  2. Drive for Uber or Lyft
  3. Create a product and sell it on www.etsy.com
  4. Write a book and sell it on www.amazon.com
  5. Start a channel and have subscribers on www.youtube.com
  6. Refer people to a recommended reading list on www.amazon.com and receive a commission