March 14, 1984
|Occupation||Co-founder and COO of Zimride|
John Zimmer is the co-founder and COO of Zimride, which he founded with Logan Green in 2007. Zimride currently has over 350,000 users and partnerships with Facebook, Zipcar, and 125 universities.
Zimmer grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. In 2006, Zimmer graduated first in his class at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and was a member of the Quill and Dagger society. After graduation, Zimmer worked as an analyst in real estate finance at Lehman Brothers in New York City. While at Lehman Brothers, Zimmer spent most of his time creating real estate models in Microsoft Excel. Zimmer left Lehman Brothers three months before it declared bankruptcy. The decision followed a conversation with a friend’s mother who, upon hearing his plan to leave and develop Zimride, asked how he could leave the security of Lehman Brothers. Zimmer identified that moment as the time when he thought, "Screw this, I’m really going to leave."
While at Cornell, Zimmer was inspired to develop a rideshare program by filling the empty seats he had during his rides home over school breaks: “I was driving from Upstate New York to New York City and all around me were these empty seats.” As a student at Cornell, Zimmer took a City and Regional Planning Class, called Green Cities (taught by Dr. Robert Young, now at the University of Texas at Austin). The class discussed the principles of simple design changes to large infrastructure, which would later influence the development of Zimride. He states, "If you look back at other forms of transportation … there’s always that idea of networks and the idea of routes. We feel that this is the natural way to move toward a ubiquitous form of transportation." Noting that 80% of the seats on American highways are empty, Zimmer says that ridesharing, "is a huge opportunity to create efficiency to save a lot of money and to reduce our environmental footprint."
Zimmer and Green were introduced through a mutual friend on Facebook. Green had posted details about his new company called “Zimride,” which interested Zimmer, who had been keeping a journal about carpooling ideas.
Co-founding of Zimride
Within a week of being introduced, Green flew out to New York City to meet with Zimmer. Zimride launched the first version of its rideshare program at Cornell University where, after six months, the service had signed up 20% of the student body. Later in 2007, Zimride was active on both the Cornell and UCSB campuses. Green and Zimmer promoted the service through guerilla marketing campaigns; in particular, the pair would dress in frog suits and hand out flyers to students on the Cornell campus. Later, while on a Lehman Brothers recruiting trip, Zimmer was recognized by a potential recruit, who asked "I swear I recognize you—were you in a frog suit on Saturday on campus?"
Zimmer quit his job at Lehman Brothers to work with Green full-time on Zimride. When asked why he quit, Zimmer said, "The feelings I had about what I wanted to do and what was important to me didn’t match up with the culture in Wall Street. There was a focus on money, there was a focus on what people were wearing, and things that didn’t seem to lead to productivity."
Green and Zimmer focused the service on carpooling between connected users and making carpooling fun and interesting. Zimride is currently the largest rideshare platform in the United States. As of April 2012, Zimride has raised $7.5 million in funding, has facilitated more than 26,000 carpools, has helped users travel over 100 million miles, employs 29, and has created over $50 million in savings in vehicle operating expenses. The service is active at over 125 universities including USC, University of Minnesota, UCLA, UCSF, Cornell, Harvard, and the University of Michigan.
- John Zimmer | Co.Exist. Fast Company.
- Startup Stories Cornell. August 10, 2011.
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- Lazlo, Luz. Zimride offers college students cheap -- and checked out -- rides. The Washington Post. December 30, 2011.
- Nelder, Chris. Bikes, Car Shares and Buses: The New Transportation Era is Here. The Txchnologist. April 17, 2012.
- Sullivan, Colin. Startup Bets that Social Networking Will Spur Carpool Craze. New York Times. July 29, 2009.
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- Bogusky, Alex. Digital Hitchhiking with Zimride. Fearless. February 28, 2011.
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- Shaughnessy, Haydn. How to Win Friends AND Cut your Travel Costs. Forbes. November 18, 2011.
- Booking a ride in someone else’s car. Smart Planet. April 9, 2012.
- Cohen, Deborah. Former Lehman’s banker drives startup Zimride. Reuters. September 15, 2010.
- Schomer, Stephanie. Zimride: Carpooling for College Students. Fast Company. January 5, 2011.
- Kwan, Connie. Zimride’s John Zimmer. Triple Pundit. November 1, 2010.
- Car Sharing and Pooling: Reducing Car Over-Population and Collaborative Consumption. Stanford University. April 9, 2012.
- Takahashi, Dean. Zimride raises $6M for ride-sharing car service. VentureBeat. September 21, 2011.
- Tsotsis, Alexia. Carpool Community Zimride Lands $1.2 Million In Seed Funding. TechCrunch. August 23, 2010.
- Hargarten, Jeff. UMN Morris acquires ride-sharing network. Minnesota Daily. October 7, 2011.
- 2009 Finalists: America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs Business Week.