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Robin Chase, Zipcar, and an Inconvenient Discovery

As part of my MBA we were tasked with reading the linked case study developed by MIT Sloan about Robin Chase, the founder of Zipcar, and the dilemma she faced when she realized the company’s revenue was half what she needed in order to break even. Then write a 3-page reflection on her leadership. As you’re reading, think about Chase’s decisions as a leader in forming this company. How did she develop her mission, team, and pricing model? What do you think led to her miscalculation? Evaluate Chase’s strengths and weaknesses as a leader, focusing on how they relate to the development of her mission, team, and pricing model. What do you think led to her miscalculation? Then, put yourself in Chase’s position and discuss how you would have acted as CEO. How would your approach have differed, and why? Here’s my reflection... Chase had a clear, achievable vision for Zipcar. With hindsight I might be inclined to say that she should not of considered the environmental benefits of Zipcar as a secondary part of her vision, but rather a main motivator and promoter of it. However, I must be conscious when conducting my analysis that we are discussing events that occurred in 2000, when environmental impacts were not as mainstream as they are today. It would also be too easy to point out where she went wrong from a technology standpoint, with current day technology as an argument, but this would not be accurate, since the technology she had access to in 2000 was far more crude than it is today. My initial thoughts when reading the case study, were that Chase might have been slightly premature in terms of her vision and where the technology was at the point when she decided to launch, but I could be wrong. It is true that perfection is the killer of progress, and it’s often better to get something out there [that isn’t perfect] and update iteratively with feedback from users. Chase’s reason for starting up Zipcar was sound — based on a personal problem she experienced — however, did she conduct proper market analysis and get impartial customer insight? Chase maintained close contact with Zipcar members, but was she guilty of confirmation bias, because she seen this as a “nice-to-have” in her life? It is also easy to judge Chase’s choices based on knowledge available today — a sort…

Spinout of the Month: Conplx, an XR IDE to promote STEM inclusion

This month I’ve decided to select the best spinout concept and treat it with an imaginative MisVis Statement. The chosen spinout is, Conplx — domain: — which was conceived when trying to find a solution to STEM inclusion and getting more girls interested in coding. Conplx Not just a new way to code. A new way to STEM! Conplx is an abstraction of the Latin word conplexio, meaning abstract(ion). The concept of Conplx is to take the first principals of STEM, notably Abstraction, and present them at the forefront of an extended reality integrated development environment (XRIDE) to the user as a customisable tool.  The Conplx Mission The mission of Conplx is to get more people interested in STEM, especially girls, by removing the two main identified obstacles; “too hard” and “too boring” — this will be achieved by applying new solutions — AI and XR technologies — to an already tried and somewhat failed paradigm; Visual Programming Language (VPL). The issues identified with VPL attempts thus far are that they still act like code and don’t detach from coding practice enough to remove the “too hard”, “too boring” obstacles (referred to hereafter as TooHB). The Conplx Vision Think of a more abstracted and fun version of Matlab, using XR technologies with AI support.  Matlab is one of the most established versatile and visual tools in STEM, yet according to Stack Overflow’s 2018 Developer Survey it is one of the most dreaded environments among coders. Both Mathematical and Computer Sciences share the same first principal; Abstraction. This first principal is what Conplx is built on.  The best example of what Conplx aims to achieve is that of the video game controller. The video game controller is an abstraction that simplifies all the complex and beautiful code under the hood in order to make playing games enjoyable, exciting, and easy (as compared to operating a game without the game controller abstract). Another example would be an animated movie and how that is an abstraction of the written story — here the story being traditional code. Conplx could be viewed as an animation of code objects for OOP. The power of abstraction/level of animation is in the user’s control — for example, the higher the level of abstraction the more generalised and encompassing an object would be and less objects would exist in the XRIDE, whereas, the lower the abstraction the more objects would…