July 14, 2011
February 10, 2011
Zipcar succeeds because it created a platform for the sharing of excess capacity (idle car hours), which reduced costs for everyone who uses the asset. By taking a closer look at the anatomy of sharing (personal, institutional, web 2.0) and dimensions of the assets (physical, digitial, temporal, synergistic, collaborative) we can turn perceptions of scarcity (and cost centers) into a reality of abundance (and profit, innovation centers).
The online web 2.0 phenomenon of collaborative production is much loved because of its speed and scalability. Zipcar is an example of collaborative consumption, financing, and infrastructure (a distributed nationwide fleet in existence because of the aggregated demands of its members). Reconceptualizing what it means to collaborate offers an intriguing new way to think about infrastructure investment. What does it mean to create platforms to enable participation?
The strength and resilience of meadows are derived from their diversity, ability to evolve, and collaboration within the system. In highly dynamic environments characterized by uncertainty about the future, we need to reduce risk and increase the likelihood of survival. The key is to ensure that institutions (and governments) have laid the foundations that foster experimentation, permit learning, and ultimately evolution of successful new businesses that take advantage of unexploited openings (where there is excess capacity) in the ecosystem. In economics, we call these randomized field experiments. Creating more meadows is an important risk reduction and innovation strategy.
Robin Chase, the founding CEO of Zipcar, unpacks the underlying principles that enabled a startup to transform an industry.
Since its inception, Zipcar has been seen as disruptive and innovative: it used technology and marketing to change the way people own and use cars; it changed the ways cities are lived in and built; it changed prejudices about the incompatibility of environmentalism and capitalism. Innovator Robin Chase helps individuals, companies and government understand where to look for innovation and how to enable it. She explores how rethinking “excess capacity” can be combined with technology to unlock innovation, new profit centers and ultimately lead us to a sustainable planet. In 2009, Robin was honored by Time magazine as one of the year's 100 Most Influential People. Craig Newmark wrote: "Robin's work illustrates what's best about people using the Internet: not well-intentioned yet futile do-goodism but business that's also a community service. It's about people using the Internet to work together in the service of one another." She has been frequently featured in the major media including Today, The New York Times, National Public Radio, Newsweek and Time magazines, as well as several books on entrepreneurship.