Bridging the Tech Gap

Next Young Entrepreneur: Jessica Scorpio

22.NextIf someone challenged you to come up with an idea that could make life better for one billion people over the next 10 years, what would you do?

Jessica Scorpio cofounded Getaround, a company that aims to reduce the environmental impact of cars by enabling owners to rent out their vehicles when they’re not using them.

In 2009, Scorpio, now 29, attended Singularity University, an organization formed by Google, NASA, and Silicon Valley innovators to apply technology to humanity’s most pressing problems. This was the question they were posed.

“Our group decided to look at transportation,” Scorpio says. “We quickly realized that our current model is unsustainable.” There are one billion cars in the world, and most, she says, sit idle for 22 hours a day. Connecting car owners with people who need access to a vehicle can generate extra cash for the owners while allowing the renters to avoid the costs of ownership. Most important, it’s a way to make better use of the resources required to make all of those cars. Each car that’s shared, Scorpio says, keeps 10 cars off the road.

The service works something like Uber or Airbnb. Renters browse a list of cars available in their area and send owners an electronic request to rent a vehicle. If the owner agrees, a device installed when the owner signed up lets the renter locate and access the car. The service is up and running in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Portland, Chicago, and Washington, DC, with more cities in the pipeline. The company has raised more than $40 million so far, and its investors include Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and actor and tech investor Ashton Kutcher.

Scorpio has long been passionate about making the world a better place through entrepreneurship. At 19, she founded IDEAL, a nonprofit network in her native Canada that connects entrepreneurs and young leaders to mentors who can help them as they embark on their careers.

Like many start-up founders, Scorpio admits that she spends most of her waking hours working. A puppy she recently adopted, though, has brought a bit more balance to her life: “I bring Indy with me whenever possible,” she says. “He helps keep me sane.”

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