A Canadian Girl Getsaround

Reflections from a leading female founder

Round round get around
I get around
Yeah
Get around round round I get around
I get around
Get around round round I get around
From town to town
Get around round round I get around
I’m a real cool head
Get around round round I get around

This Beach Boys track rings true for so many reasons, as you’ll learn by reading further. When I first visited the Valley in 2008, it definitely stood out as unique and the most special place I’d ever been. I fell in love with the small, vibrant community of dreamers who believe anything is possible and immediately felt at home.

Having been on the move most of my life, it’s not surprising I packed my bags and left Canada for what I hoped would be the adventure of a lifetime (and boy was it).

After 8 years of building Getaround to the leading company it is today, I am excited to share that I’m stepping out of day-to-day operations. I will continue an active role on the Company’s Board of Directors, serve as a liaison and be involved in special projects to support the company in its mission to solve car overpopulation. This was such an emotional decision for me, but it’s the right one. This shift allows me to continue to support the company’s objectives while exploring other projects and opportunities and taking some desperately needed time off. You can learn more on TechCrunch.

The company, our mission, and our community remain near and dear to my heart. We will continue to change people’s mindsets around car ownership and reduce our greenhouse gas footprint, all while enabling a better overall car experience for everyone.

I am tremendously proud of the Getaround team and all that we have accomplished. We have great leaders who work well together and a clear strategy that informs our objectives and priorities. Today, Getaround is operating in nearly 100 cities in the United States — with many more to come — we’ve raised over $400M in funding, have secured massive partnerships with global companies like Uber and Toyota, and increased our Getaround family to over 200 across 15 different offices. We are well on our way to positively improving people’s lives on a global scale.

When we had the idea for Getaround (in the hallowed halls of Singularity University), it was definitely an off-the-wall concept that I believed in deeply. Most people thought it would never work and that the business was too complex to succeed. As it turns out it they were right — it was complex. We had the typical startup challenges like hiring, fundraising, achieving product market fit, acquiring customers, and scaling — plus issues around insurance, legislation, hardware development, marketplace dynamics, local operations and logistics.

Early Getaround team at iPhoneDevCamp (2010)

I’m incredibly grateful for the early investors and customers who believed in us and stuck with us every step of the way. We REALLY couldn’t have done it without you. I am deeply appreciative of my co-founders, Sam and Elliot and the confidence the Board, the management team and the employees have placed in me and the Getaround team. I look forward to supporting Getaround however I can going forward. A very special thanks to our investors and Board members: Mark Siegal with Menlo Ventures, Neil Suslak with Braemar Energy Ventures, Noah Yago formerly with Triangle Peak Partners, and Michael Ronen with Softbank Investment Advisers.

In the spirit of guiding other first-time founders and reflecting on my journey, I’m starting this blog to share some of the crazy wonderful and difficult memories that are part of our success story. Every obstacle became a launching pad and learning experience. Many of the challenges we faced gave me the chance to create a new path, or to outwit and obliterate whatever rule or system was already in place.

Some of the topics I’m going to cover in future posts are:

  • Recruiting your co-founders
  • Partnering with your romantic partner
  • Getting to product market fit
  • Fundraising and managing your board
  • Scaling and growing your user base
  • Mental health and stress management

In the meantime, I’m happy to share a few tips on how to bring your bold idea to life and some of my favorite memories of my time at Getaround.

#1 — Wear many hats, sometimes many faces

I’ll never forget naming the company and securing our URL, Getaround.com. I was inspired by the Beach Boys song and it seemed to fit our mission. Unfortunately, as is common with the best names, the web address was already owned by a big domain seller, and this person wanted over $100,000 for the URL, which we absolutely could not afford.

To make the deal, I needed to avoid being associated with a VC-backed tech company, or it would likely cost us even more. So I used a fake alias to network through the strange world of online real estate, and eventually, I found a friend inside the domain industry — also operating under an alias — who asked the seller to give me the friends and family discount. After eight months crawling around the web, I got our domain for an affordable price. Sometimes we have to wear many hats, sometimes many faces.

#2 — Hearing “no” means “yes” is possible

In the beginning, insurance companies wouldn’t give us the time of day. We pitched about 200 providers to no avail, largely due to antiquated legal restrictions which were written when carsharing, and even the sharing economy, didn’t exist. But where I heard “no,” I knew there had to be a path to “yes.” In this case, that path to “yes” was to change the legislation. Easy, right? I went back to the drawing board, leveraging my political background to partner with local transportation leaders to write, lobby for and pass new legislation. We fought for it, and secured the passage of AB 1871 in California, and then in more states. This law made it clear how consumers engaged in “Personal Vehicle Sharing” were protected and how insurance coverage applied, which calmed the insurance companies. A few months later later, once the law was in effect, we were able to secure our first insurance partner, Berkshire Hathaway. The early rejections made me more determined than ever to find a way around these legacy issues. I refused to give up and passing these new legislations landed me the cover of Inc Magazine.

Inc Magazine Cover (2012)

#3 — Go big or go home

I have a knack for creative marketing stunts and have been successful launching Getaround in a big way on a shoestring budget. It all started back in 2010 where I was pushing Getaround into the spotlight through clever brand identity strategies, one of which was linking the Tesla name with our brand. I secured the world’s first hourly rentable Tesla through an early investor, and got the car in a week of pitching at CES through a GE partnership. It got us some impressive media coverage and drew in early customers who appreciated our innovation and sustainability mandate — all before the sharing economy really took off.

That same year, we fought to get included in the May TechCrunch Disrupt (we have a history on this stage which is another story I’ll share in the future.) Unlike that time, this time we were more successful. We were the first company to win both the Grand Prize and the Audience Choice Award — and most would say we blew the judges socks off!

Team at TechCrunch Disrupt accepting awards (2011)

One more tough decision

Having run nearly every team at the company, bounced from city to city to jumpstart growth, and forgotten what a good night’s sleep felt like, it was important for me to step back and ask myself if it was time for a big change. When I started Getaround, Lyft didn’t exist, Barack Obama had just become president of the United States and there were only a handful of female founders. Now, we have micro-mobility, mobility mafias, mobility as a service, and we’re in the midst of an unstoppable movement to include more women in tech. Times have changed and so have I. I spent my twenties tirelessly focused on Getaround’s success to the detriment of my health, relationships, and personal interests. As I enter my thirties, I’m yearning to focus on giving back to myself, helping to foster growth in others, and seeing how I can continue to innovate and have a positive impact on the world.

Dreaming of the future (2018)

The timing of my role change couldn’t be better. Over the past 18 months we’ve built out our executive team with key hires in engineering, product, legal, marketing, operations, mobility, and culture. I’m extremely grateful for Juan, John, Vanessa, Allison, Spencer, and Matt, and for their enthusiasm and commitment to our mission. I’m excited to continue working closely with the team and thrilled to welcome and work closely with Michael Ronen and the Softbank team as we continue to scale the company.

Along the way I’ve learned how much I love the early creation process, and there are hundreds of women in tech, and nascent entrepreneurs who need good mentorship. I’m an entrepreneur and a founder through and through. I’m excited to dive into the deep end again, roll up my sleeves and exist in the crazy, sometimes uncomfortable space, where ideas need hands-on nurturing and the right ingredients to blossom. I’m proud to call San Francisco home and continue to be active in every level of our special ecosystem — founding, investing, and advising. Have an idea? Let’s hear it!