Zaarly closes $1 million seed round, Bo Fishback going full-time
Zaarly co-founder Bo Fishback visits with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore at Startup Weekend Los Angeles on February 20. Photo by Jim Alden via Flickr.
Remember that startup we first wrote about less than two weeks ago? The one that launched at Startup Weekend Los Angeles on February 20 with a pitch by Kansas Citian Bo Fishback? The one that had celebrities Demi Moore and LeVar Burton tweeting about it the night it launched? Yeah, that one: Zaarly.
Earlier today, TechCrunch broke the story that Zaarly had raised a $1 million seed round from a slate of notable investors: Ashton Kutcher, Naval Ravikant, Paul Buchheit, Bill Lee, Felicis Ventures and Lightbank, the Chicago-based venture fund created by Groupon's founders.
By phone tonight, Fishback told me he's now undertaking Zaarly full-time and, as a result, will be taking a leave of absence from Kauffman Foundation, where he previously served as the president of Kauffman Labs. Fishback also confirmed co-founder Eric Koester of Seattle (an Omaha native) and Ian Hunter of Los Angeles would be leaving their current postions to go full-time with Zaarly, as well.
This speedy transition for the Zaarly team of three is analogous to the goal of Zaarly itself: provide a quick transaction for a desired good. This team understands what it means to move quickly, and that's just how they want their service to work: if you want something, such as a lower-level ticket to a Lakers-Cavaliers game (example in video below, courtesy of Zaarly), post how much you're will to pay for it on Zaarly, recieve a phone call or text (annonymous, thanks to Twilio) from an interested seller and make the transaction on-the-go using cash, PayPal, Square, or possibly, Dwolla.
Later this week, Fishback, Koester and Hunter will head down to Austin for South by Southwest Interactive to launch their product. They've recruited a nearly 20-person street team to assist in the effort of convincing a crowd of more than 14,000 early adopters to give their concept, which turns the seller-buyer relationship on its head, a try. In a phone call last night, Fishback told me that this will be "one really targeted experiment" for them. They'll see "what works, test it out," and then continue building it in the weeks ahead.
If it's anything like the first two weeks and they stick to their philosphy of "quick," expect Zaarly to grow fast. In fact, it appears they're already making adjustments to their LaunchRock-powered website to accomodate a city-by-city rollout. When I visited the site from Omaha, I saw a photo of the Bob Kerry Bridge in Omaha instead of the scene from Sixth Street in Austin.
Screenshot of omaha.zaarly.com