Robin Chase, SM ‘86, is a career innovator who has moved between articulating big ideas and implementing them as an entrepreneur. As Co-Founder of Zipcar, Robin believed that people wanted an easy and cost-effective way to share cars, and that this would radically reduce emissions. Thirteen years later, studies show that car-sharing reduces miles traveled per driver by 40 percent, and in North America, each car shared replaces 15 cars on the road. Doable.org, Robin’s newest idea, will create an encyclopedia of effective approaches to the world’s most pressing problems.
Robin’s time at MIT Sloan trained her to recognize game-changing ideas and to innovate by reaching across the sectors. In 2000, Robin decided to apply her business skills to the fledgling idea of car-sharing; by 2003 Zipcar was in three East-coast metro-areas and was changing the way city planners thought about parking requirements for new buildings. In 2006, Robin realized that public policies determine the transportation options available to individuals and institutions, so she started advocating for changes in state and federal transportation policies. During this time Robin began advancing the idea that information technology could help people make use of “excess capacity” – cars and other infrastructure that lay idle much of the time, but that could be shared to make more effective and sustainable use of resources.
Moving once again from ideas to action, Robin launched GoLoco, an online ridesharing company, in the United States and then Buzzcar in France, a more radical peer-to-peer version of car sharing. Now she is on the policy stage again, working to shift car insurance laws to allow for innovative business models in New York and other states.
Robin’s newest entrepreneurial venture is DOable.org, a website change-makers can use to find effective solutions. She started Doable.org because today, if you are looking for ways to reduce traffic congestion (for example), you only learn of options through your personal networks or those that are well known. DOable.org will allow actors from business, government, academia and community activists to connect and share proven solutions from around the world.
Over her career, whether building a business, working to change public policy, or partnering with organizations across the sectors, one concept has unified all of Robin’s ventures: “People are not just consumers anymore, they are collaborators and participants. I love ideas that inspire people and show them a path toward developing a more sustainable economy.”