Alumni Spotlight: Emmanuel Bamfo ’07
Hesitant to leave his Clague Middle School buddies, Emmanuel Bamfo ’07 entered Greenhills as a freshman in the fall of 2003.
“My excitement about Greenhills grew over time,” he said.“I give my parents, George and Francesca, a lot of credit for encouraging me with that decision — they rock. Still, high school was a complicated time for me. My sister Rose Bamfo ’09 was a straight A student at Greenhills. I was not. I was more interested in playing basketball and other extracurriculars than doing my homework. I didn’t see how homework would help me reach my high school dream of building a network of hospitals around the world. I was more excited working after school at Dr. Jamerson’s lab or Dr. Mahoney’s violin shop pitching them to fund me launching my own lab and other projects.”
Bamfo discovered that Greenhills’ positive impact was more than academic and extended beyond the classroom. He left Greenhills and went to Washington University, in St. Louis, where he landed an Enterprise Rent-A-Car scholarship to study bioengineering. He considered dropping out to build a social network instead.
Bamfo recounts, “Bioengineering was cool, but not as cool as organizing free food events on campus by location.”
Bamfo was drawn to building business systems on top of technology and describes it as being “like magic” for him. By the time he was 21 and a senior in college, he was co-founder of a company for which he raised more than $50,000.
“I kept skipping class to ship code and raise money so I went on academic probation in college, but my relationship with the university improved and WashU invested in my startup, Quad Connect and Enterprise Rent-A-Car came on as an advertising customer.”
In 2011, he graduated from WashU with a B.S. in economics and his first award-winning company under his belt. Bamfo describes his life as a fun and evolutionary journey.
“I encourage everyone to consider they are the hero of their own movie,” he said. “The adventure to achieving your dream is not a linear path. If it was, it wouldn’t be an adventure!”
Right out of college, Bamfo shut down his first startup and worked in product, marketing, and growth at Target and LinkedIn. He said he faced opposition for challenging corporate leaders to break the old “rules.” In 2014, he found himself out of work and reached out to fellow Greenhills alum Will Paulus ’04, who was working for a startup in Silicon Valley called Mixpanel, a business analytics company that tracks user interactions with web and mobile apps. Paulus found Bamfo a job working for the Mixpanel CEO, but soon after he learned of an opportunity to work as Head of Growth at Hitch, a ride sharing startup with two engineers. He left Mixpanel to join Hitch and within a year the company had a critical mass of users. In 2014, Lyft Line, the carpool arm of Lyft, bought Hitch.
At about this time, Bamfo started talking with investors about his idea of providing break locations for Lyft drivers. This idea turned into Recharge, a company that provided break locations in luxury hotels for everyone. He raised $10 million as founder and CEO, and was listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in the Consumer Technology category. The idea was to pay by the minute to use a hotel to rest. Later, with backing from Y Combinator, an American seed-money startup accelerator, Bamfo launched a new company, Globe, Inc., which currently converts empty floors at the W, Four Seasons, and Marriott hotels into private offices competing with WeWork. As Covid restrictions ease, demand is expected to grow. Bamfo expects Globe to have a bright future post-COVID because millions of professionals will continue in a hybrid work model where they only commute a few days a week and need an office near their home.
Bamfo said he is grateful for the chance to reflect on how his time at Greenhills played a role in his adult life and work
“Greenhills is an important part of my story,” he said.
“Classmates like Grant Wilborn , Loni Rogers, Ruhee Uppal, Chloe Gurin-Sands, Brittany Ajegba, Matt Debusscher, Dimitris Assanis, Peter Keshtkar, Max Betzig, and fellow students Daniel Hill ‘05, Charlie Betzig ‘06, Sarah Adams ’06, Michael Gardner ’08, Katherine Regalado 09, and others taught me the importance of friendship, love, trust and, commitment. Greenhills parents like Janet and Jerry Wilborn taught me the value of mentorship and they became family to me. Greenhills faculty and staff such as Anna Carello, Mark Randolph, Dick Tobin, the Friedlanders, Cathy Renaud, Bruce Zellers, Madame Papas, Jim Lupton, Eric Gajar, Steve Oestreich, Nadine Hall, and others taught me the foundations of how to think. And of course to the entire Greenhills basketball squad of coaches, players, and staff — thank you for helping me learn the value of teamwork and competitive spirit.”
When asked what advice he would have given himself five years ago, Bamfo said, “Relax! Love yourself and enjoy the ride. God is at work. Trust the process.”
When asked what advice he would give to Greenhills students today he said, “Get to know yourself and stay true to your purpose. If anyone from the Greenhills community wants to discuss tech or real estate or is dedicated to building a moonshot dream like driverless homes, reversing aging, or life on Mars, don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Bamfo lives in San Francisco and, when he is not working, he enjoys playing with his son, Noah, practicing Muay Thai, and checking-in with friends and family, including siblings Rose, Dorothea ‘11 , Daniel, and Paul.