The rise of the sharing economy has made it possible for people to pull up an app or Website and instantly share everything from bedroom space to surfboards to cars and beyond.
We at Webby Connect sat down with Jessica Scorpio, founder of Getaround, a car-sharing company that set out to solve the problem of “car overpopulation” to talk about the original idea behind the service, how to get people to sign up to share their cars with strangers, and how the sharing economy model is likely to evolve in the near future.
What was your motivation for starting Getaround?
While attending Singularity University, we were given a challenge by Larry Page to positively impact one billion people in ten years. In looking at the future of transportation, we realized our current model is unsustainable. There are over one billion cars in the world, and each car sits idle 23 hours each day—we decided to focus all of our efforts of solving this problem we call “car overpopulation”. Instead of adding more cars to our streets, we decided to maximize what is already available—and Getaround was born.
How have you been able to get people to be willing to share their cars? Do you encounter much reluctance?
Since day one, we’ve worked really hard to make sure our users feel safe and secure when sharing their cars. This includes our $1 million insurance coverage for each trip backed by Assurant, a Fortune 500 company, as well as legislation we’ve worked passed in several states to ensure that car owners are protected by the law when sharing their car.
When car owners feel safe sharing their car, the rest is easy. Getaround owners earn, on average, $500 each month. And as more Americans are changing the way they use their cars, earning money off an unused car just makes sense.
What's the toughest part about running a company like Getaround?
I think one of the toughest parts of running any disruptive company right now is getting the large, traditional industries to see the light. One of the major hurdles we faced in launching Getaround was finding an insurance partner who would work with us.
It took lots of hard work but we were able to pass a law in the state of California which says that when participating in a personal-vehicle-sharing program, the car owner's insurance is never going to be affected. That's really what tipped the scales and made insurance companies feel comfortable about working with us. Now three states have laws, and more are thinking about it on their own.
- What do you believe to be the greatest opportunity presented by the sharing economy?
The social and environmental impact that Sharing Economy companies can make is what really excites me. In the U.S. alone there are actually 6 billion car hours being under-utilized. So far, studies have shown that each shared car takes 10 other cars off the road, so the potential for real environmental and social change is amazing.
Are there other sharing economy services that you admire and/or think are doing a particularly good job?
I am constantly impressed by the amazing things happening in the Sharing Economy space. Obviously I think the “fathers of sharing” like Airbnb and Zipcar have done an incredible job at pioneering the space. Right now, in San Francisco there are lots of collaborative food apps popping up, like Munchery and Feastly—and as someone who’s constantly on-the-go, I’m a huge fan.
How do you see the sharing economy evolving in the next five years?
I really believe the Sharing Economy is just going to continue to explode. In the next 5 years, I expect that more and more sharing companies will become household names across the country the way we’ve seen with Airbnb in the last few years. I think we’ll also start to see more and more partnerships and collaboration between Sharing Economy companies and the industries they are looking to disrupt.
Just recently, Getaround announce $24 million in funding lead by Cox Automotive—a long standing business in the automotive industry and owner of Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and Manheim Auctions. We are really excited about what this partnership means for the future of car sharing and I expect will continue to see similar partnerships as the Sharing Economy continues to grow!