Bo Fishback pitched Zaarly at Startup Weekend Los Angeles in February 2011 (left) and has since grown it into a startup with offices in multiple cities, including his city of residence, Kansas City (right).
Today, that one thing is his full-time job. Over the past 365 days, Fishback took a frustration – at 6 feet 8 inches tall, he longed for a way offer other airline passengers money to switch seats for more leg room – and became the CEO a $15 million-backed, San Francisco-based startup that offers a solution. Zaarly is a web and mobile app that allows users to offer a price for anything around them, e.g. “I’ll pay $40 for an aisle seat on the flight to Kansas City.”
Earlier this month, Zaarly was named one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies” in the world. In December, the startup earned a slew of mentions on “Best of 2011” lists. In November, it passed the $10 million in offers posted milestone (it’s since crossed the $20 million mark). In October, it added former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to its board of directors. In September it … well, let’s stop here. In short, Zaarly had quite the year. For Fishback and his two co-founders, Eric Koester and Ian Hunter, time flew.
“It feels a little like it’s been five years,” Fishback said, “while at the same time it’s only been five minutes.
“We’ve learned a ton since this idea was born 365 days ago and in some ways I think we spent the past year doing just that. Learning. We’ve learned a lot about what not to do and quite a few things that will shape the future our product and our company.”
“It feels a little like it’s been five years, while at the same time it’s only been five minutes.” – Bo Fishback, Zaarly co-founder
In a recent answer on Quora, Fishback re-told the story of Zaarly’s inception at Startup Weekend Los Angeles. “At some point that weekend we realized that we were working on something that could be transformative (and we still believe that) and started talking about what we should do after Startup Weekend.”
What he did was pursue his idea, and today he’s as ambitious as the day he left what he called his dream job to pursue his wild idea full-time.
“We’re a year into what will almost certainly be a long road, but I’m more excited about our next release than anything we’ve done up to this point,” Fishback said, “and that’s a great feeling.
“Part of me feels like we’re still just getting going, but we’ve been hugely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some of the smartest and most impressive people that I’ve ever met, and if you believe that great people make great companies then I like our chances.”
Speaking of people, Fishback added one to his family this past year. He and his wife had their first child in July.
What a year.
To learn more of the story, check out some of our coverage from Zaarly’s first year in business:
- February: “Zaarly turning ecommerce on its head, set to launch at SXSW“
- March: “Zaarly closes $1 million seed round, Bo Fishback going full-time“
- March: “Zaarly goes live at SXSW – TechCrunch interviews Bo Fishback“
- May: “Zaarly app now live, offers being posted on the Silicon Prairie“
- May: “Big Omaha Video Series: Bo Fishback of Zaarly“
- June: “Zaarly adds Arrington to investor list, sets sights on seven core cities“
- October: “Zaarly raises $14.1M Series A, adds former eBay exec Whitman to board“
- November: “Zaarly’s Fishback graces the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine“