How Travis VanderZaden Reached Glory Through His Startup Bird

by StartupWorld Staff         

Every entrepreneur draws his inspiration from something or the other that lurks in day to day life. The inspiration drives his passion and when paired with hard work and strategic decisions, leads to the rise of an empire.

Travis VanderZaden, the man behind the lucrative e-scooter startup company Bird, drew his inspiration from his mother who had been a public bus driver for more than 30 years.

Little did he know that the inspiration had sowed the seeds for his entrepreneurial journey. 

Peeping Into The Life Of Travis

Travis holds a Bachelor’s and Master's degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Southern California respectively.

Being the son of a public bus driver, Travis could not keep himself away from transport sector companies. He served as Chief Operating Officer at Lyft, Vice President at Uber, and Chief Revenue Officer at Yammer. 

“Seeing all the friction, riders need to time their pickups and drop-offs perfectly with the schedule,” recalls Travis on the things he learned watching her mother drive.

His dad abandoned his family after he was, and this meant Travis had to spend most of his time with his mom while she was working. 

Venturing Into The Entrepreneurial World

Travis left Qualcomm in 2008 to start his first company, Qikcom, an enterprise chat app. It was at this when he met David Sacks, founder of Yammer.

Sacks was impressed with Travis, and he offered him a job at his firm. Travis led the sales team at Yammer and quickly rose to the role of Chief Revenue Officer. 


The entrepreneur fire in Travis had not been ceased, and he exited the company in 2011 to start his second company, Cherry, an on-demand car-wash app.

Travis himself stated that it was a terrible idea. But Lyft didn't think that way, and it bought Cherry in 2013 crowning Travis as its COO.

However, certain unconfirmed disputes between him and the board members saw his exit from the company. In no time, after the events, Travis joined Uber as its Vice President of Driver Growth. 

The Road To Glory

Travis left Uber in 2016 to spend more time with his family. He got his daughter bicycles as a Christmas gift in 2016, but he was surprised to see that their daughters were still interested in riding scooters.

This intrigued Travis, and he started exploring adult e-scooters. He ordered a few e-scooters from Alibaba until he found the Xiaomi M365. 

When he and his wife started using the e-scooter, all their neighbors were attracted to it. Xiaomi M365 was the first e-scooter offered by Bird.

Without wasting any time, Travis raised $3 million in seed capital in April 2017. He poured into some money from his own pocket and invited Sacks and others to participate.

Sacks who had already seen the fall of Travis not once, but twice hesitated. But ultimately he submitted to Travis and on-boarded as an investor.  

Bird now operates in over 60 countries spread across Europe, the Middle East, and North America. It registered 10 million rides in its first year of operation and was named in Time Magazine's 50 genius companies in 2018.

According to Crunchbase, the e-scooter platform has raised $273 million to date in over 4 funding rounds. The company also has 1 acquisition to its name in the electric vehicle company Scoot.


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StartupWorld Staff

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