Sam is an engineer and entrepreneur. He is founder & CEO at Getaround, the leading marketplace empowering people to instantly rent and drive great cars shared by other people in their city. Getaround has raised over $400M in venture capital from top investors including SoftBank, Menlo Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Shanghai Auto.
Prior to Getaround, Sam founded Apption, an enterprise software consultancy, and 360pi, the leading retail price intelligence platform that was acquired by MarketTrack and Vista Equity in 2016.
Sam holds numerous patents and inventions, is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, a Microsoft Code Award winner, and a Goldman Sachs Most Intriguing Entrepreneur. He studied Engineering Physics at Queen’s University in Canada and is a graduate of the Singularity University Graduate Studies Program at NASA Ames, where he received the Google Scholarship.
How did the concept for Getaround come about?
We imagined the world when all cars are connected and self-driving—from there we realized the future of transportation is a world where all cars are shared.
How was the first year in business?
It took us 12 months to secure our first insurance partner so you could say it was a slow start!
What was your marketing strategy?
We launched the world’s first hourly rentable Tesla Roadster in 2011. That got the word out and then we executed multiple marketing strategies and tactics.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The company grew very quickly initially. In 2014, we refocused around our connected car hardware technology called Getaround Connect® which enables an end-to-end instant experience enabling our customers to download the app, signup instantly, reserve instantly, and unlock the car instantly—all through the Getaround app. As we perfected that model, we reverted back into hypergrowth mode.
How do you define success?
Making an impact on the world.
What is the key to success?
Focus, hard work, resourcefulness, precision, and creativity.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Don’t bet against exponential technology trends.
What are some quotes that you live by?
I don’t live by quotes but if I had to quote someone, it would be Frank Herbert (below):
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
What are some of your favorite books?
What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack, and Dune by Frank Herbert.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
There have been many of those—but being only weeks away from running out of cash was definitely a dark moment I remember vividly.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
You have to get used to adversity as the norm if you want to be an entrepreneur. If you believe in yourself and your team’s creative ingenuity, you’ll find a way through it.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship will force you to confront the weaknesses that you’re likely unwilling to admit you have—just be ready for a lot of hard lessons.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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