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“Vision comes before provision.” with Rock Robinson

Vision comes before provision. If you have a vision that will create change and enrich the lives of people then the provision will come. Our vision is way bigger than us. We want to help empower small groups all over the world. We want to help reduce emissions and plant thousands and even millions of trees. […]

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Vision comes before provision. If you have a vision that will create change and enrich the lives of people then the provision will come. Our vision is way bigger than us. We want to help empower small groups all over the world. We want to help reduce emissions and plant thousands and even millions of trees. Vision coupled with action will inspire people. It will cause people to believe just like you and want to see something happen just like you. Never stop casting vision.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rock Robinson.

Rock Robinson is the Co-founder and CEO of eCarra.com — the market leader in zero-emissions mobility. Robinson alongside eCarra helps Fortune 2000 companies with safe, sustainable transportation. They also partner with rideshare companies to help them become more sustainable.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be a part of this. I grew up in the inner city of Houston, Texas. My father left when I was six years old, so from a young age I looked to other men to learn and to absorb their knowledge. I was in the eighth grade when I first heard my woodshop teacher say the word entrepreneur. From that point on I was intrigued and drawn to the lifestyle of an entrepreneur. My first venture as an entrepreneur was in the eleventh grade when I started selling t-shirts. I never stopped engaging in business activity or being creative and innovative to solve problems. I learned to listen and follow instructions, to do things the best way possible, and to always keep your word no matter how difficult.

You are currently leading a social impact organization that is making a difference for our planet. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

We’ve all heard of climate change and why we need to do something about it. eCarra is about creating change by helping people understand there is a better way. We want to do our part to reduce emissions and help educate people regarding electrification as the responsible choice when it comes to mobility. We found that 97% of the people that have used eCarra had never been in an electric car before riding with eCarra. We also discovered that people who rode with eCarra more than three times stated that they would consider buying an electric car as their next car purchase. Plainly stated, electrification is just smarter — it’s cheaper and better for our planet. The sun produces far more energy than we demand; our sun shines down 84,000 terawatts of energy on our planet every day. The United States only requires 16 terawatts a day for its current electric needs. Bringing awareness to the general public is part of what eCarra does. If we take the power of the sun and put it to use for our mobility needs the results in the decrease of emissions would be huge.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

We have always wanted to clean up the rideshare space. But in our quest to make rideshare experience better we realized that it had to be more than just sparkling clean cars and hiring drivers that are well-maintained and professional. We are confident that the age of gasoline-dependent cars is coming to an end, and that the world doesn’t need another rideshare option built around something that is on its way out. We believe wholeheartedly that electrification is in its infancy and will grow exponentially in this decade.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They dont get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

After deciding that we would be an all-electric rideshare company it got even more difficult and even scarier. The early days of all-electric vehicles meant an expensive initial investment and there weren’t large numbers being produced and we saw overwhelming obstacles that could keep us from building this business. But we love a challenge and decided the cause was too important to ignore and we wanted to be part of the innovation to create change. We decided that not only were we going to do it, but we were going to do it and make it easier for others after us to do it. We built our platform architecture with SaaS in mind so that we could share what we’ve learned with the rest of the transportation community.

Many people dont know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

For me, it was all about trusting each step and seeing where it lead. Putting the idea to paper, the formation of the company, pitching our idea to potential investors, listening to feedback, taking chances, sharing the vision — these are all steps. It’s impossible to know all the steps without making the first one, and for us, the first step was believing in ourselves and our competencies.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

There are quite a few interesting stories over the last 2.5 years, but what has been most important for me has been holding onto the dedication of our mission. In the beginning, so many folks said that we couldn’t do it. They believed that it was too soon or that electric cars would never have a place in the market or that they were too expensive for us to even afford them. We continued on our course, we have thrived, committed to staying innovative and as a result, we’ve gained $500,000 in assets.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

In the beginning, we were working non-stop — 18 hour days were routine. Keeping the cars charged was at the top of the list, but myself? Not so much. I fell to sleep at one of the Tesla superchargers and woke up several hours later with a hefty fee from Tesla for sitting on the charger too long after fully charged. It was probably the most expensive nap I’ll ever take in my life!

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Our first investors were personal friends that gave us $50,000 just because they believed in us. This was huge for us and gave us tremendous confidence.

Are there three things the community, society, or politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Yes, first we need to start talking about the facts. A typical passenger car emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. This has huge effects. Worldwide, air pollution accounts for 1 in 8 deaths. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.6 million people die every year from causes directly attributed to air pollution.

Second, larger companies need to be forced to make sustainability a priority. Small companies can’t carry the load alone. Solar and electric charging and mobility platforms are happening all over the world but large corporations haven’t made the switch due to profit margins or longstanding backroom partnerships. That needs to end.

Third, we must call on the government to take a stand against our dependence on fossil fuels and consider electrification as part of a long-term solution.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

Many companies depend on a fleet of vehicles to deliver their product.

A gasoline dependent sedan has about 20,000 moving parts, whereas an electric vehicle only has about 25. Fewer parts equals fewer maintenance opportunities and a lower cost to operate — you’ve got yourself way better margins! The cost to operate an electric sedan is about $.05 per mile. By comparison, the cost to operate a gasoline sedan is about $.65 a mile.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

No is good! We hate hearing the word “no” but once we understand the why behind the “no” it often gives us the answers that we need to move forward. If we can reverse engineer why were getting the no, then we can create steps and a path to a yes. We’ve had investors that initially said no to us, and after being persistent and following through steps, those same investors have changed that no to a yes.

“Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems.” This is a quote that I heard from Tony Heish CEO of Zappos. I heard this early on as we were starting the company and I realized that it’s very true. Things that might sound very bad in the moment are often not as bad as we first imagined. On the flip side, things that may seem incredibly good may not turn out to be as good as we thought. Staying clear-headed and objective about opportunities and events is key.

It’s okay to be wrong! One of the reasons we’ve grown so fast is because we’ve acknowledged that our system and way of doing things is not perfect. Accepting this helps us stay open-minded and allows us to be creative and innovative.

Vision comes before provision. If you have a vision that will create change and enrich the lives of people then the provision will come. Our vision is way bigger than us. We want to help empower small groups all over the world. We want to help reduce emissions and plant thousands and even millions of trees. Vision coupled with action will inspire people. It will cause people to believe just like you and want to see something happen just like you. Never stop casting vision.

Trust the people around you! Building a start-up is easy. In the beginning, it’s like your own personal project. It’s all you think about and it’s all you want to do but, there comes a time when you have to release it and trust those that are drawn to help. I have made the mistake of not trusting people and lost good teammates.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

We strive to live by the Golden Rule — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I believe this goes beyond person to person. Our planet is designed to take care of us — so we should be very serious about taking care of it in return.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.“ — Mike Tyson.

We must always be ready for change; ready to take a punch in the face and keep on moving. We have had overwhelming obstacles from the beginning. COVID-19 for us is just another obstacle. We’ve changed and gotten better because of it. It’s helped us deepen the value of our app and create better experiences and services.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Will Smith 100%. I think he is one of the most creative, funny, and intelligent people in the world. I’m inspired by how well he handles stressful situations and he’s a great father.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can visit eCarra.com to learn more or visit us on social media @ridesthatmatter.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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