Anya Babbitt had her mobility epiphany in 2013. Working in Los Angeles and living out of a hotel, she found herself thinking about urban congestion and sustainable commuter solutions, she says. One day she found her ride of choice, the hotel shuttle, was full. This being the pre-Uber and Lyft days, she says, “I was stuck without a ride. Luckily there were two other guests who had a car and were traveling in the same direction. Not only did we share the ride but collaborated on a future project together. That was when I realized the power that shared mobility can bring—convenience and connections.”
Babbitt went on to co-found SPLT (an acronym for Splitting Rides), a ride-sharing app that is partnering with cities, large companies and organizations like universities to create private, customized carpool programs. SPLT is one of the Top Ten Automotive Startups of 2017 being honored this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and a member of Techstars Mobility’s Class of 2015. Babbitt was thrilled to join with her SPLT co-founder Yale Zhang to present a TEDx talk this year in Wilmington, Delaware.
SPLT is the second startup for CEO Babbitt, who calls herself a startup junkie. Fresh out of Boston University, she was working at a large law firm and pondering law school when she realized “corporate life was not for me.” Instead, she struck out on her own in luxury and real-estate marketing.
She says, “In our family, we were encouraged to do what we love”—knowing that in doing so, the money would always be there.
Babbitt says she always has been inspired by her mother, who helped manage the Babbitt family business. “My mom was a natural entrepreneur at heart,” she says. “Her resourcefulness and resilience really helped me understand the value of independence and self-reliance, especially as a woman. I come from a lineage of strong, entrepreneurial women, a lineage of German heritage.”
Today, she says, companies need to reach out and create diversity to succeed. “Women today attend college and earn degrees at a higher rate than men, and the level of talent has increased tremendously,” she says. “All companies miss out when they do not recruit the best candidates. Those that do choose to embrace a diverse workforce will always win out in the end.”
Her advice to young women entering business: “Do what matters. Do what matters to you. Do what you can to make the most of your life in the time you have. You are the future of this industry.”