Women Business Leader in an Emerging Market: Robin Chase
Transportation Innovator and Car Sharing Entrepreneur
Robin Chase, a social entrepreneur and strong believer in a collaborative economy, believes that sharing resources with the help of technology can reduce carbon emissions and serve a market gap in the world’s urban cities. Robin has started three companies that have changed the way people in metropolitan cities around the world commute, go shopping, take weekend vacations and travel to business meetings. She founded Zipcar in June of 2000, a company that utilizes the idea of car sharing, where a group of registered members can utilize a community-based pool of vehicles of every size and caliber ( Time’s Most Influential People). Zipcar has become the largest carsharing company in the world. Soon after her first successful company launched, she realized the need for more real time sharing opportunities that were specific to carpooling. Building upon her passion for a collaborative economy and transportation, she started GoLoco, a ridesharing community focused on the concept of a “shared trip” between friends, families or coworkers. Essentially, Ms. Chase has built upon the well-used commuter and school pick up carpool by applying the “carpool” to trips based on common interests. Users can form groups on the site, and be alerted to where their friends and group members are headed, creating the opportunity for a casual carpooling with easy online payment to the driver. Her latest endeavor has carried her abroad to France where she launched Buzzcar in 2011, a similar concept to Zipcar but using a city’s personal vehicle network to facilitate local car sharing through a secure internet community. Robin’s belief in making use of “excess” capacity is truly ingenious, especially when it prevents unnecessary harmful carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. She is a leader to female professionals in green business looking to start successful businesses. Robin’s key to building profitable start-ups is twofold. First, she posits establishing a need in the current marketplace and, subsequently, building a platform to share and satisfy the need (Time’s Most Influential People). Of course, thinking creatively about the solution is essential. She follows a process for building each business, but she considers the bigger picture before making her move. Climate change is the reason all three of her companies exist. She believes moving to more fuel efficient cars is not the sole answer. One Zipcar has been able to replace up to 17 personal vehicles and reduce the number of miles people drive by 80% (TED Presentation). Drivers who subscribe to Zipcar cluster driving activities together since rentals by the day are cheaper than by the hour, incentivizing grouping errands together on one trip rather than multiple trips, thus reducing carbon emissions. Ms. Chase’s strategy is based upon a “collaborative economy” where sharing excess capacity of things that are already bought and paid for can provide others with a great benefit and a revenue generating avenue that otherwise wouldn’t be there, deemed the Economy of Free (Creative Waves, TED Presentation). The idea is to maximize participation to make a successful business, exchanging ideas, and developing open standards that can benefit everyone. Part of that open exchange of standards and ideas is taking advantage of technology that can help consumers in real time. She argues that smart phone apps have the potential to facilitate a process for fully utilizing consumer goods, homes, and vehicles. Shared value is a concept that has spurred new businesses like selling handmade items on Etsy, unique short term vacation rentals from Airbnb, peer-to-peer lending Prosper, and even Wikipedia (where contributors create a real time encyclopedia). The value added is from the intangibles becoming visible, the person behind the business. The benefit from all these emerging businesses...
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