Skipper Chong Warson

Fjord Fika: We chat with Uma Subramanian

Episode 11: How would you like to cut your commute time from hours to minutes? How would you like to say goodbye to traffic forever? What if we said this is possible today, but you’d have to swap your car (or train or bus) for a helicopter? And you’d be able to do it all for the cost of a car service.

Sound too good to be true? Well, on-demand helicopter service (think the Uber of the skies) is now available in São Paulo, Brazil, thanks to Uma Subramanian and her team at Voom. And soon, it may be coming to your congested city, too.

Subramanian, currently the CEO of Voom, a strategic initiative of A^3, the Silicon Valley outpost of Airbus Group, has always loved things that fly, ever since she went to Space Camp as a kid. She is a rocket scientist by training, having spent time working on Northrop Grumman’s space initiative, and has done stints in consulting at McKinsey and Bain Capital. But it was her time as general manager for Europe for TaskRabbit, building and scaling a business, that led her to combine her two passions (aerospace and entrepreneurship) into her latest endeavor at Voom.

Current ground infrastructure can barely handle the size of urban populations today, Subramanian says, and the problem is only expected to worsen, given that nearly 60% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2030. Subramanian wants to make the promise of using the skies to relieve urban congestion and traffic a reality today – and to do so all for the cost of a car service.

In this Fika, we chat with Subramanian about Voom and its expected roll-out in other cities, why helicopter travel is particularly well suited for moving urban populations from point A to point B, and what we can expect from the cities of tomorrow.

Please enjoy this Fika break by visiting iTunesSoundCloud or wherever you get your podcasts.  

Skipper Chong Warson

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