Jessica Scorpio, founder and Director of Marketing, Getaround, launches her startup in Chicago and shares her entrepreneurial lessons with the Techweek Chicago Summit 2015 attendees.

Jessica considers Getaround to be the “Airbnb of cars,” which is basically a peer-to-peer car-sharing network headquartered in San Francisco. In this session, she discusses the hurdles she and her team encountered along the way to launch this service. Getaround was the brainchild of Jessica and her partner at the inaugural class of Silicon Valley’s Singularity University in 2009. They launched the company at the TechCrunch Disrupt in 2011.

Some of our key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Getaround Focuses on Transportation and Automotive Sector:
    Jessica and her partner Sam Zaid received a challenge from Google’s Larry Page at Singularity University to identify a business concept that could benefit 1 billion people in the next 10 years. They brainstormed and came up with the innovative concept of ‘Getaround’, as the trends indicated a bright future for smart cars in the future. Cars are the second biggest household expense and remain inactive almost 23 hours in a day. So, according to Jessica, a car-sharing service was interesting as each shared car takes between 9-13 cars off the road.
  2. Getaround Modifies its Product Development:
    Based on the idea of Zipcar, Getaround modified its platform to connect individual car owners with renters. This idea needed a foolproof in-car hardware that will enable tracking the car in use. “Getaround Connect” is an electronic hardware device which, when installed in the vehicle, allows a driver to unlock the car door using a smartphone.
  3. Launching Getaround Remains Challenging:
    The main challenges faced included a sufficient supply of cars, insurance, and legislation. To meet these challenges, Getaround has partnered with insurer Berkshire Hathaway to develop a motor insurance policy that applies during the rental period, offering $1M coverage, while car owners can keep their standard insurance for private use. Getaround also required a law passed in its favor, so that people can share their cars with a relaxed mind. Jessica had to use her political acumen in helping to pass laws that can support the growth of her company. AB 1871, passed in California courts, provides a simple clause that if one shares their car with someone else and gets paid for it, the insurance company may consider it as a car rental business and may refuse to cover that individual.
  4. Major Lessons Learned in the Process of Creating Getaround:
    Jessica and her team faced these hurdles head-on and are now able to launch this application in San Diego, Chicago, Austin, and Portland; apart from San Francisco. The following are lessons Jessica learned, and believes can be really useful for any entrepreneur during the initial days of their startup –
    a) Start small but launch big and get proof of concept quickly
    b) Think outside the box to get things done
    C) Remain focused and keep fighting
    d) Make bold choices

Below are some of the key points and moments from the conversation:

  • 0:10 – Jessica introduced Getaround to the audience
  • 0:45 – Jessica discussed her entrepreneurial journey of making Getaround a product-market fit
  • 1:18 – Getaround as a concept originated at an inaugural program of Singularity University in 2009
  • 2:41 – Getaround was launched with the intent of making the auto market more efficient
  • 3:52 – Jessica highlighted the lessons that she and her team learned during their journey
  • 5:16 – Jessica gave insight on how Getaround operates as an app
  • 5:35 – Jessica talked about the new insurance coverage she got for her fleet of cars in Getaround
  • 10:30 – Getaround works on product development to enhance safety in car sharing
  • 12:00 – Jessica’s political background became instrumental in passing a new law in favor of Getaround in California
  • 15:13 – Getaround gained popularity and eventually 5,000 people signed up for its service in 24 hours
  • 19:41 – Q&A: Is there any plan to expand Getaround outside the USA?
  • 20:06 – Q&A: Does Getaround have customized marketing plans for different cities?
  • 20:31 – Q&A: Does Getaround use any other technologies for tracking the cars in use?


Founder and Director of Marketing, Getaround