Robin Chase On Zipcar And Her Next Big Idea

Susan notes: Thanks to TED for making TED Talks downloadable and embeddable, and for providing the biographical information that goes along with them.

robin_chase.jpgRobin Chase founded Zipcar, the world’s biggest car-sharing business. That was one of her smaller ideas. Here she travels much farther, contemplating road-pricing schemes that will shake up our driving habits and a mesh network vast as the Interstate.

If she weren't a proven start-up entrepreneur, you might imagine Robin Chase as a transportation geek, some dedicated civil servant, endlessly refining computer models of freeway traffic. Or if she weren't such a green-conscious problem-solver, you might take her for a businesswoman only. Ultimately, the best way to understand Chase is simply as a remarkable innovator.

Case in point: In 2000, Chase focused her MIT business training on founding Zipcar, now the largest car-sharing business in the world. Using a wireless key system and Internet billing, members pick up Zipcars at myriad locations anytime they want one. The idea is at once ordinary and highly sophisticated, with powerful technologies applied to tasks as prosaic as grocery shopping. But the result couldn't be more straightforward: fewer cars, less carbon.

Since its founding, Zipcar has doubled in size every year, making Chase's biggest ideas and her latest company, GoLoco, look mighty promising.

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