Meet Founder Of GrowSF: Sachin Agarwal

Sachin Agarwal loves SF. So much so that he started a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving back to the community. GrowSF encourages community members who work in tech ​to contribute to the needs of the city. To be specific, through local government, transportation, and SF education.

The interesting part though, Sachin is combining his tech background with his love of SF to create a city that’s more livable, sustainable, and more affordable for future generations.

“I've been in San Francisco for about 15 years, you know, I love this city, deeply. I can't imagine living anywhere else."

A Bite Of Apple

While Sachin loves SF, one of his first loves is coding. Why? He sees coding as a form of art. Majoring in computer science, the entrepreneur took his love of code to Apple. Once there, Sachin dedicated his time to building out Final Cut Pro.

“Being able to start with nothing and build something is just so powerful.”

It was his time at Apple that Sachin’s first idea was conceived. After the iPhone was released, he saw that there was no way of sharing images. In 2008, Posterous was born. The idea with Posterous was to publish photos from your phone online.

“For the first time, I have a connected camera, how do I publish and share this stuff."

Sachin and his team were one of the first mobile photo-sharing platforms in the world right when the iPhone came out. Shortly after, Twitter acquired Posterous and Sachin became a product manager at the social media giant.

“Being able to start with nothing and build something is just so powerful.”

Lyft Off

When Sachin and his wife decided to take time off they didn’t anticipate traveling for a year. He recalls grinding for eight straight years, this trip was long overdue.

Resisting the urge to fully plan out the trip, the couple spontaneously packed up their San Francisco home and hopped from one country to the next. And was that one of the best decisions they’d ever make.

“[We] got to experience other cultures, other cities. Seeing kind of how life is outside of the [United States].”

The trip becomes a launchpad for Sachin’s next endeavor, even though he didn’t know it. When he came back to San Francisco, the trip only solidified his love for the city. There was a burning desire to give back and contribute to his community.

“We envision a San Francisco that is inclusive, livable, sustainable, and affordable for all families."

When Sachin joined Lyft, that love for social impact only grew stronger. There, the GrowSF co-founder became part of Lyft’s major social impact campaigns like Round Up and Donate and a Get Out The Vote.

As part of Lyft’s initiative, Round Up and Donate automatically gathered fares to the nearest dollar and donated the difference to an organization of the passengers choosing. According to Sachin, this project donated over $20 million.

In 2018, Sachin also played a part in the program, Get Out The Vote, where Lyft provided people free rides to go vote.

All these small, yet momentum efforts led Sachin to GrowSF. He wanted to give back to a city that has given him opportunities to reach for the stars. And he wanted to create a better city for his daughter and the future generations ahead.

“I've been in San Francisco for about 15 years. I love this city, deeply. I can't imagine living anywhere else.

“We envision a San Francisco that is inclusive, livable, sustainable, and affordable for all families. We want healthy transportation systems, more housing, and smart growth to happen in partnership with organizations and their employees who are committed to San Francisco.”

The Takeaways

Keep a pencil and notebook near. You never know when an idea is going to strike, so make sure you have a piece of paper and pen ready. “I seriously have all my best ideas in the shower, but I forget about them as quickly as they come. I make sure I can write them down immediately.” Yes, take your supplies into the shower with you. Or to the grocery store. Or even when you’re going to dinner. Ideas are fleeting, so be sure to catch them as fast as you can.

Play the odds. Apart from a good game of poker with friends, when it comes to your career being an optimistic risk-taker will always lead to life’s most valuable lessons. “I followed my gut, against the advice of everyone around me.” For Sachin that meant taking the risk of joining Apple in 2002 when it was close to failing. Or in 2006 when he decided to move to New York even though there wasn't much of a tech scene. The important thing is that not every gamble will pay off, but be glad that you took that leap of faith.

There’s always room for playtime. Sachin can’t emphasize this enough: Make time for fun. All work and no play is a recipe for disaster. And fun looks different in everyone’s eyes. There was a time in my career where I was pushing at 110% for years, and I made myself sick. I suffered and my team suffered. You have to maintain a work-life balance, stay happy and healthy. It's a marathon, not a sprint.” Whether that’s catching dinner with friends, binging Netflix, traveling (safely of course) take the time to just step away and just enjoy the simple pleasures.

Get To Know Sachin

At the end of every interview series, we ask our guests a series of rapid-fire questions to get to know them better as a leader. Their quirks and habits have led them to where they are today.

Q: Who are three leader you look up to?
A: Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Warren, and to keep it local Mayor London Breed.

Q: Night owl or early bird?
A: Night owl. I’m up to 2 a.m.

Q: What’s your favorite part of San Francisco?
A: Golden Gate Park. There's just an infinite amount of stuff to explore. Especially love the Botanical Gardens.

Q: What kind of advice would you have for your younger self?
A: I would tell myself to get more civically involved earlier in whatever you're passionate about.

Q: If you could instantly become an expert at anything, what would it be?
A: I wish I was a better writer. I have a lot of writer's block. I wish it was easier for me to put down thoughts on paper.

Q: If you could go anywhere right now (pre-Covid-19), where would it be?
A: I love Japan. I think cities are going to thrive. And Tokyo is top of my list.

Conversation Starters

  • Empathy: University of Cambridge researchers explored the link between empathy and creativity. (Source: CNN)
  • Leadership: Goodr CEO, Jasmine Crowe, turned her passion into a multimillion-dollar business: ‘I’m motivated by all the naysayers’ (Source: CNBC)
  • Social Media Management: CEO and co-founder of Toucan, Taylor Nieman, is using her Twitter powers for good. This is how you engage with your customers. (Source: Twitter)

Now’s Your Turn

Grow with San Francisco and grow with us! How do you ask? It starts with good ol’ feedback.👇

​>> Go to Matter​ <<

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Cover Photo: GrowSF

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