INTERVIEW by GARY GOLDMAN | PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of JESSICA SCORPIO
This is our first interview during our special, Nissan-fueled Auto Innovation Week at Daily BR!NK, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to start off with Jessica Scorpio. Founder and Director of Marketing of Getaround, Jessica has created more than just a brilliantly-executed car sharing company; she’s sparked a paradigm shift in the world of transportation. The idea is simple: you only use your car for a small chunk of the day, so why not rent it out when you don’t need it? Getaround has created an extensive peer-to-peer network that will make you think twice about the ease (and future) of shared transportation.
Oh, and if you’re an innovator and think you’ve got an idea — like Jessica’s — that will change the world, check out NissanInnovationGarage.com; they’re providing two outstanding innovators with $50,000 to jumpstart their ideas. (Plus a new Altima. Plus a Kickstarter campaign.) It could be you, so don’t hesitate! You might be our next BR!NKer.
Getaround was conceived during your time at Singularity University, which might be the most convincing argument I’ve ever heard for attending graduate school! What various elements triggered the idea for a car renting program?
Three years ago at Singularity University, we were challenged by Larry Page to solve a problem that would positively impact one billion people in the next ten years. Looking at the future of transportation, we realized our current model is unsustainable.
There are currently one billion cars in the world, each one sitting idle 22 hours every day. We decided to focus all of our efforts to solve the problem we call “car overpopulation.” Instead of adding more cars to our streets, we decided to maximize the cars already available — Getaround was born.
Let’s get a couple of technical questions out of the way. What are my options to enable someone to access my car? Also, are there any restrictions in terms of car models?
Getaround offers two convenient ways for owners to grant access to their car. These choices give owners control over who drives their car and when, while ensuring renters have a great experience each time they rent.
The first option is through the in-house built Getaround Carkit — a small piece of technology that allows renters to easily unlock a car using their smartphone. The Carkit is equipped with GPS technology, usage tracking features, and advanced security protection — making car sharing easy and safe for owners and renters. Once a rental is accepted, renters can locate and unlock their car from the Getaround iPhone app. The Carkit works with most cars.
Getaround’s innovative and interactive Carkit allows users to unlock their rides via smartphone
Alternatively, owners can meet renters in person to hand off the keys. Most owners start sharing on Getaround with this method, as they enjoy meeting the renters.
The inevitable insurance question: How does the Getaround insurance affect your own car insurance, and how does the Getaround insurance work?
Getaround owners and renters are insured by Getaround’s insurance agency, Berkshire Hathaway. From day one, we’ve taken insurance very seriously, because we want to make sure both our owners and renters feel protected. While the average U.S. driver has $100,000 in insurance, Getaround offers $1 million for owners and renters.
We have also worked to pass laws in several states clarifying the implications of car sharing on personal insurance policies. The legislation makes it clear that, when a car owner is participating in peer-to-peer car sharing, their personal insurance will never be affected.
It seems like companies like Getaround (and now Getaway) or Airbnb are generating paradigm shifts in society. In addition to convenience, is there a vision and a philosophy that is associated with your company?
Absolutely. Getaround’s mission is to empower people everywhere to car share — ultimately reducing the number of cars on the planet.
We’re excited about the recent rise of the Sharing Economy — people are clearly starting to think differently about the things they own and how to effectively access the goods and services around them.
In the early days of Getaround, did you find yourself and your team having a lot of convincing to do for skeptical individuals? What would you tell them, and how did you go about getting those first hundred cars onto the site?
One of the things I love about Getaround is the “aha” moment people have when we explain the concept. Before we even launched, we worked for over a year securing insurance and passing legislation to make sure our users felt safe using the service.
When we officially launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2011, the response was overwhelming. We received 1,600 car sign-ups in the 24 hours after our first presentation. Today, we have over 10,000 cars owners signed up across the country.
Jessica presents at TechCrunch Disrupt
This special themed week at Daily BR!NK is all about individuals revolutionizing the auto industry in their own ways. How cognizant were you of the industry prior to working in it, and what do you think will be the biggest change in upcoming years in terms of transportation?
Before launching Getaround, I had never worked in the transportation industry, but having never owned a car, I was very familiar with the challenges surrounding personal mobility.
Being a part of this industry today is incredibly exciting. The space is changing every day and, as an industry, we’re on the verge of some huge innovations — connected cars, autonomous vehicles, and real-time ride sharing, just to name a few.
Personally, I think our biggest challenge in the upcoming years will be shifting people’s attitudes about car ownership and personal mobility. The old mentality of “one car, one driver” is changing, but it won’t happen overnight.
You recently announced a $13.9 million Series A funding. What are you and your team intending on using the funds for?
With this funding, we’re going to be working on expanding into new markets across the nation, forging key partnerships to drive adoption, and continuing to develop and improve our product and technology.
Your favorite type of car to drive?
Tesla Roadster or BMW 3 Series (stick shift).
Your go-to song to drive to?
“I Get Around,” by The Beach Boys.
Second-to-last question. San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, and Austin. Which cities can we look forward to seeing Getaround expand to next?
We do have plans to expand very soon — stay tuned!
How can our readers help you, and how can you help them?
Sign up to share your car! Not only will you earn some extra money, but you’ll help people in your neighborhood who don’t own cars but need one from time to time. If you don’t own a car, check out the cars near you for rent on Getaround. If you’re interested in joining the team, we’re also hiring! Apply at jobs.getaround.com.
Share your everyday innovation and you could win a $50,000 grant and the most innovative Nissan Altima ever. We’ll even unleash the winning ideas on Kickstarter. After that, anything can happen. Get started by entering your idea now at NissanInnovationGarage.com