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posted on September 13th, 2017

PROVIDING EDUCATION & AWARENESS ON CAPITOL HILL

Like many tech-driven startups, Turo is a disruptive business. Technology empowers us to inspect age-old problems from a fresh perspective, and solve those challenges with the connectivity and intelligence of the modern age. Disruptive businesses, by definition, make waves in monolithic, established industries, and consistently encounter unprecedented challenges to overcome while they pioneer a new way of doing things. Turo CEO Andre Haddad has spoken about this consistently, from championing the hybrid model of vehicle ownership to ruminating on the struggle to stay fresh in the mobility industry. Emerging economic models are a dialectical reaction to established economic paradigms, and growing pains inevitably ensue as they synthesize into the cultural and economic establishment.

Luckily for us and the rest of the tech world, there are trade associations that lobby and advocate for the disruptors and the innovators of today’s business landscape, helping us tell our story and the millions of stories from our community members. Turo is a proud member of TechNet and the Internet Association, nonpartisan trade associations dedicated to empowering tech companies and amplifying their message for government, policymakers, and their constituents. The “voice of the innovation economy”, TechNet lobbies for and champions policies that promote innovation and competition, while the Internet Association’s mission is “to foster innovation, promote economic growth, and empower people through the free and open internet.”

Alongside luminaries from the likes of Amazon, Google, Lyft, eBay, and more, Turo was thrilled to have one of our local DC hosts recently participate in the Internet Association’s “Virtuous Circle on the Hill”, a conference dedicated to innovation policy and education for policymakers on Capitol Hill.

The Virtuous Circle on the Hill

Longtime Turo host and Tesla aficionado Joe E. participated in a luncheon discussion on the so-called “gig economy”, bringing together community members from Turo, Lyft, Amazon, Uber, and more to share their experiences engaging with these platform businesses. “Without Turo, I wouldn’t be able to run my small business,” Joe shared from the panel dais.

Rewind to 2013, when Joe decided to give Turo (then RelayRides) a try. “I commute to work by bike or metro, so my old Mini Cooper was just sitting in my driveway. I had seen a news report on peer-to-peer car sharing, so I looked at the options and decided to give RelayRides a go,” Joe recalls. Four years later, he has three cars available for rent and an LLC for eMotion Rentals.

“Turo is a gateway drug,” he jokes. He didn’t have any car sharing ambitions before listing his car on Turo — he has a full-time job as a lawyer, so his Turo business is literally a side gig, but a side gig that’s grown and matured significantly over the years. “I had always wanted a Tesla, but I couldn’t justify [the cost],” he says.

Enter Turo into the equation, however, and his dream Tesla started looking a little more feasible. He bought a Tesla Model S and it was every bit as amazing as he dreamed it would be. So amazing, in fact, that he’s since added a Tesla Model X and a Tesla Roadster to his stable of electric ponies, with a Tesla Model 3 on the way once it’s fresh off the production line.

Joe’s Turo testimonial

“Without Turo, I wouldn’t be able to run my small business. It’s a marketplace, so I can list the cars I already have, but you guys are providing all the stuff that’s really hard to do as a one-person operation (payment processing, insurance, etc.). It’s a really nice synergy between what Turo already provides and the little business I’m trying to run,” he says. And that’s the sentiment he conveyed at the Virtuous Circle on the Hill summit, that Turo is facilitating his plan to recoup his investments into the cutting edge electric vehicle market. “I spent 2011 in a Brookings fellowship on the Hill,” he recalls, noting that the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol are not unfamiliar terrain to him. “If Turo’s not successful, then I’m not successful. One of the key benefits of doing these education sessions [for congressional leaders and policymakers] is to drive awareness and mitigate legislation that would negatively impact the Turo business,” he says.

Make your voice heard

And Joe couldn’t be more correct. Education and awareness are more than half the battle when it comes to proving the economic power and relevance of Turo to the current cultural and economic zeitgeist. It’s critical to get our elected representatives aware of and on board with Turo’s business and potential impact on the economy, so that it can continue to power innovation and economic empowerment for everyday car owners like Joe.

Being a member of innovation-championing trade organizations like the Internet Association and TechNet is an important step toward defending Turo’s vibrant community from incumbent threats. Additionally, your stories are an equally powerful force to prove the value of Turo to the American economy.

If you want to help, join Turo OpenRoad, our public policy and advocacy website, to help lobby for hosts’ rights to offset the cost of car ownership, and to advocate for travelers and car enthusiasts to be able to find the perfect vehicle for their next adventure.

     Join OpenRoad

Michelle is VP, Head of Government Relations at Turo. When she’s not advocating for a favorable regulatory environment for Turo, you might find her with her husband and two children at the SAP Arena cheering on their favorite neighborhood hockey team, the San Jose Sharks.