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Three unlikely places that shaped Lyft co-founder John Zimmer into the entrepreneur he is today

Dinushi Dias /

He’s spent the past five years bringing one of Uber’s biggest rivals to life, but co-founder of ride-sharing platform Lyft, John Zimmer, says his desire to make things was there from an early age.

Speaking to Entrepreneur, Zimmer reveals his earliest notion of creating something valuable emerged at the age of five.

“I used to go to Dunkin’ Donuts and I told [my parents] that I wanted to be a doughnut man,” Zimmer says.

“That was a person that was making the doughnuts. I used to talk to the people that were making them and so just my love of doughnuts made me want to make them too.”

Later in life, Zimmer says he found himself working for a global financial organisation where the impact of bad “culture” reared its ugly head.

“I think more about the culture at Lehman Brothers when I worked there,” he told Entrepreneur.

“I saw that people weren’t being themselves and they weren’t participating in a real meaningful way.

“I learned that the values that I want to be a part of and create in our environment are ones that were different from a place where people weren’t participating or being themselves.

“When you walk into the Lyft offices in San Francisco, you see a sign of our first value, which is to ‘be yourself’,” he says.

Finally, Zimmer says his approach to service has been influenced by a world-renowned hotel franchise where he worked in customer support.

“I was a phone operator at a Hyatt in my hometown,” he says.

“It was my first real hospitality experience and I fell in love with the idea of delighting people through great service.

“Being an operator was valuable because I got to see how the whole hotel worked.”

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Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a freelance journalist and a former StartupSmart reporter and multimedia content producer. She is the co-founder of Melbourne-based production house Dinushi & Power.

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