The Les Roches Silicon Valley Trip is off to a great start. On Tuesday, 25 October, BBA students from Les Roches Chicago, Les Roches Switzerland and Les Roches Marbella had the privilege of visiting two game-changing businesses: 500 Startups and Lyft.
What better place to begin our journey into startup culture than at 500 Startups? This venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator may be based in Silicon Valley, but its reach is global. 500 Startups has already invested in over 1,500 companies across more than 50 countries.
It has funded successful businesses such as Credit Karma, Grab (formerly GrabTaxi) and Twilio, and receives over 10,000 applications a year from hopeful startups. Out of those applications, 500 Startups provides funding, support and mentoring to around 160 projects around the globe each year. So how does it work?
- 500 Startups looks for ideas that work. How can you tell if a startup is working? One of the best signs is if customers pay once — and then come back to pay again.
- As a venture capital fund, 500 Startups looks for businesses with the potential to scale up — a key priority in Silicon Valley. Through its accelerator program, 500 Startups invests $150,000 in selected companies in exchange for 6% of the company.
After our visit with 500 Startups, we headed over to the San Francisco headquarters of Lyft, whose peer-to-peer ridesharing app is revolutionizing urban transportation. We were welcomed with a panel discussion featuring Lyft employees Max Giella, Tarig Meyers, Maria de Lera, Tommy Hayes and Sid Dey, followed by a tour. Some interesting facts we learned:
- It’s no coincidence that value and customer experience are central to Lyft’s philosophy: Lyft co-founder John Zimmer is a graduate of Cornell University, where he studied Hotel Administration.
- Lyft’s aims to emphasize social connections and community, not just ride-sharing — an idea which is highlighted in the app’s tagline, “Your friend with a car.”
- At Lyft, safety and security are paramount. Background checks are a must for drivers.
- Lyft has more female riders and drivers than any other ride-sharing company
- Lyft believes in the “Barista Principle:” Treat your employees well, as they will be your first ambassadors.