The Story Behind My Investment In Chariot

When I first heard about Chariot on a niche city blog, I thought it was a joke. A founder launches a vanpool to commute Marina residents to and from Downtown and SOMA each day — that can’t be real, right? To actually verify, I sent a friend out on a ride and she loved it.

“Ok,” I began to think, “this is cool. And, maybe, real.”

Well, turns out it was very real. Lucky for me, Chariot’s founder, Ali Vahabzadeh emailed me. It was a very polite note. I responded. We chatted on the phone, and finally we met back in the early summertime of 2014.

I liked Ali immediately but, how would I get involved? We didn’t have any mutual friends. He wasn’t from the Bay Area and didn’t initially pick up on what he needed to do with investors. So, as I hung out with him more, I told him what I think he needed to start tightening up the story for new recruits and investors. And, to his credit, he was very receptive and turned into a learning machine. Around the fall, I invested, as I gained more and ore confidence in Ali as a person and Chariot’s traction.

He’s been great to work with, and I now count him as a friend.

Chariot is going to be making some fun waves in SF and beyond, and I’m particularly grateful that Ali, as CEO, has created an additional role for me — “Board Observer.” I don’t know what that means just yet, but I’m excited about it and welcome the learning experience. And, if you’re in the city, make sure to take up a ride on the Chariot or at least let them know where you need your #commutesolved.

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2017 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus