Get Tuned In
How do we build, market, and sell what our market will buy?
In 1999 nobody realized that a serious market problem had created the opportunity for a rental car company to develop a breakthrough product experience. After all, the last big innovation in the rental car business came in 1946—the year when Warren E. Avis, a Michigan car dealership owner who was tired of waiting for taxis outside airports, opened Avis Airlines Rent-A-Car System in Florida and Michigan.1 At the time, rental car companies were located in downtown garages. But as a tuned in executive, Avis understood the problems facing business travelers, and he pioneered the practice of offering rental cars at airports. His new service resonated with thousands of customers in the first few years and became a billion dollar company as a result. Fifty years later, it appeared to many that Avis had discovered the last extraordinary opportunity in the rental car marketplace.
And then along came Robin Chase and Antje Danielson. Intrigued by a membership-based car-sharing concept they encountered while on vacation in Berlin, Chase and Danielson returned home to the Boston area and interviewed city residents about their driving habits. They asked these residents about car ownership and their use of rental cars. And they tuned in to the urban lifestyle and how it dictated car use—daily, during weekends, and on holidays. The market problem identified by Chase and Danielson? Urban drivers who did not ...

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