Robin Chase: Innovation through collaboration


Sometimes you need to do things differently.

And keep at it.

Then you start to see everything around you change and you can't remember when it was any other way.

This edition of our innovator series celebrates an individual who has always seen things differently.

Building a new world, one business at a time

Robin Chase made her name as the co-founder of Zipcar. The car-renting service that allows users to rent cars whenever they want, for as long as they want. Whether it’s an hour for a quick trip to the supermarket or a weekend for a road-trip, Zipcar provides the car to let you do that.

This was a new way of looking at things.

Robin saw that we spend thousands of pounds for cars that we use less than 10% of the time. We pay money to have cars sit idle.

So Zipcar changed this. It changed an assumption about cars. That you needed to own a car to drive one on demand.

It could have ended in its first few days though. Robin admits to making a mistake on the pricing structure, so had to issue an apology to the first 400 customers. This apology concerned a 25% price increase weeks after the launch.

Only two customers complained, so Robin called them and explained in more detail. These customers became some of the biggest supporters down the line. This showed the need to be transparent to win trust.

Now, Robin could have enjoyed her fame and fortune, but she saw the next area for innovation. This was a company called Buzzcar. The idea behind this was simple. It allowed car owners to rent their car out when they didn't need it.

This idea scared the insurance companies.

But Robin and her colleagues talked them round, showed them that they needed to innovate to keep up. The company was a success. it showed the potential for shared ownership to be the model of the future.

This fear from players in the ecosystem is a challenge we all face. It's not changing one road or getting one company to buy-in to the idea. Everyone in a city needs to be a part of the change. From insurance companies to retailers, everyone must adjust how they see things.

Change is scary

When the first railways came, farmers claimed the trains turned cows' milk sour.

Today we have fast trains and fresh milk.

At SMLL, we know that to change things, you need to help show people why.

We know that driverless cars can be a lot to get your head around. We know that they can even be a little scary for some people.

So, in the same way Zipcar changed how people used cars, SMLL will do the same.

SMLL is using real-world test environments to ensure that our driverless vehicles are ready for the roads. We want to show people how they will make their lives better.

But we can’t do it alone, so that’s why we need your help.

Get in touch today to find out how we can change the way people see transport forever.