The future of mobility is innovative, intriguing and inspirational. And it also causes changes to society and the way we live. Big players and startups in the automotive industry need to foster a culture of innovation to survive in this competitive market. As a very experienced leader of data-driven corporate startups and transformations Jason Radisson can certainly offer deep insights into this exciting field. We sat down with Jason, who is currenly General Manager & Vice President of the self-driving car tech startup NAUTO, to talk about corporate innovation culture, future mobility trends and his definition of the perfect car.
1. What is your definition of the perfect car, what features should it have?
Jason: It’s been a great ski season on the West Coast and my used Quattro has really come into its own in the snow so getting a new car is definitely on my agenda. My forward looking definition of the perfect car is one that is on-demand, inexpensive, and still a fun ride. Even if I’m no longer driving it.
2. What can big players in the auto industry learn from the innovation culture of startups?
Jason: Culture starts with the founding team. The best ones fit the culture to unique problem they are trying to solve. For them, innovation is survival method you employ as you navigate the shortest path to product market fit and your first commercial successes. Startups don’t have time (or funds) for legacy processes or technical debt.
Building competitive moats is another. Control points are crucial in times of great disruption like these. In some markets for example it may already be too late for rider accounts. In contrast to big companies with quarterly earnings pressures, many startups are free to experiment with the business models and disrupt microeconomics in their industries. New business models, not just new tech. For example, ride-sharing’s optimization function is least-time-lowest-cost. Lastly, we’re in a phase where service matters. Not do Uber and AirBnB have better tech (e.g., price-yielding, routing engines, maps) and inventory than traditional competitors, they use their network effects and tech chops to deliver better service — higher host and driver quality, better partnerships, etc.
3. You’ve worked in different industries both in North America and Europe and know a lot about corporate innovation and culture. What are three key drivers to foster a company’s ability for innovation?
Jason: I think it all begins with choosing the right problem to solve, the startup’s purpose. Another big asset is the ability to be biased for action and to learn through experimentation. Last but not least, the company needs a corporate culture and incentives that properly value the upside from new business creation.
4. Let’s talk about the next big thing. What do you think are the next mobility trends?
Jason: Autonomous vehicles will make all but high yield public transport obsolete. In fact, local governments are already experimenting with ride-share companies on their long-tail routes. I think that the change to autonomy and advancement of the technology will happen much faster as a result of the rapid turnover of the fleet (2-3 years given the high utilization in autonomy). Automakers will become intermediated by fleet managers who hold the keys to customer accounts. Given first mover effects, car makers will not be inclined to share simulation data until autonomy becomes widely distributed and a safety imperative. Once there are a few hundred thousand autonomous vehicles on the road, the advances to safety will be so pronounced that autonomy will be the new seat belt.