Prior to creating Lyft as part of a hack-day project, the twenty-something, first-time entrepreneurs had spent five years building Zimride, a carpooling service designed to help university students share rides back home during the holidays.
At the time, Zimride was in the midst of an identity crisis. After years of selling enterprise licenses to universities and businesses, it decided to go after the consumer market and opened its platform for anyone to book a carpool. But consumer adoption was slow. Despite a number of failed experiments aimed at juicing growth, Zimride was having a hard time acquiring and retaining new users. So the team decided it was time to enable them to book rides on the go.