Startups naturally have an aversion to regulations and this is especially true to new tech startups. They view these regulations as barriers and sometimes, rightly so as they do hinder the way forward in certain industries. This has been proven to be true in the ridesharing industry. Uber and Lyft are two such companies which have had their fair share of battles with local and state governments when it comes to driver fingerprinting, airport pickups or simply getting permission to operate their businesses at certain cities alone.


However, Joe Okpaku, Vice president Lyft fails to see these regulations as hindrances to his business. Instead he chooses to view them in a positive light and sees them as a benefit rather than an obstacle. They serve as reminders of the true purpose of the business and help them on their track. Okpaku sees themselves as educators as he believes that by getting the states and the governments to enact legislation on their business, they are forcing these bodies to educate themselves in who they are and what they do. This is based thoroughly on the belief that one cannot enact legislation on a field that they do not understand.

Okpaku aims to show that Lyft does not belong to any industry that is already there but is an entity on itself. It is a whole new industry and therefore, the rules and regulations that generally apply to what is already out there should not apply to this particular industry. So one cannot assume that Lyft is merely a taxi business just because it seems like it and simply apply the taxi rules and wash their hands off of it. This essentially does not work and therefore, Lyft had to take some time to sit down and explain to the legislator what Lyft is all about. This is education that one cannot simply buy.

When Okpaku joined the Lyft government relations team, there were absolutely no regulations regarding ridesharing in any of the US states. This was in 2013. But now, 35 states have such regulations pertaining to ridesharing and this is a surefire way of getting ahead.(image courtesy: @josephokpaku.)