Launch Academy Exclusive: Fireside Chat with Travis Kalanick [RECAP]

Uber Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick joined Launch Academy CEO and Victory Square Managing Partner, Ray Walia and She Talks co-founder, Barinder Rasode in a fireside chat last week at Launch Academy.

Here are some of the highlights provided by Launch Academy on the Fireside Chat with Travis Kalanick: 

The room buzzed with local entrepreneurs and supporters of the multi-national ridesharing service, all of whom shared the overarching question of Kalanick’s vision and goals for bringing Uber back to Vancouver.

The fireside chat kicked off with Kalanick describing his early days as a budding entrepreneur — his first startup, an SAT prep tutoring business which he launched in his neighbourhood at the ripe age of 18. Kalanick described his passion for technology (sprouted from his early coding days from sixth grade), helped mark his path to building various ventures in peer-to-peer sharing such as Scour and Red Swoosh, which eventually led him to build the ridesharing empire known today, as Uber.

“I’ve seen what might be considered as failure far more than I’ve seen success — as an entrepreneur you have to be open to hard times. And what most people think of as a risk, generally, an entrepreneur does not see as risk...when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, there’s the fundamental misunderstanding by most people about what risk actually is. If you have a dream, and you believe in it, you have to reorient what risk is.”

Despite soft-launching the ridesharing service in 2012, Uber has undergone a series of resistance by the City of Vancouver and the B.C. Taxi Association. Kalanick believes there is a multitude of ways a city can benefit by allowing Uber to operate, including environmental, economic and social improvements within the city.

“If you want to create jobs, if you don’t like traffic, if you don’t like drunk driving, if you don’t like pollution, then I think Uber is a good solution for Vancouver.”

When questioned about whether Uber considers the regional needs for each city that Uber plans to operate in, Kalanick describes that for people to get from point A to point B efficiently is a basic human need, no matter where you are.

“I like to say if we find Martians on Mars, that they too will want to push a button and get a ride.”

Kalanick explained that when it comes to introducing Uber in a new region, Uber evaluates the key pain points in the region’s transportation situation including the quality of cars that the economy will support, pre-existing alternatives to transportation, the state of the economy, and evaluating a price point for that economy. However, Kalanick notes how the success of introducing Uber in 60 regions was due to the support of the citizens and leadership of those regions that has allowed Uber to exist.

Despite recent efforts by prominent B.C. tech leaders in an open letter to have the province allow ridesharing services to operate in Vancouver, requests for the government to revise regulations have been rejected. The team at Launch Academy and Victory Square hope to see that change soon and to have our government embrace innovation and services that offer positive change.