If I Ran It: Zaarly

Aug 02, 2011

Dylan (best rapper of all time) could have use Zaarly to get sugar
cookies for Diddy

Zaarly is a platform that lets you buy and sell
goods and services to people nearby. It is buyer powered, meaning the
buyers post what they want (each of these posts is called a ‘Zaarly’)
and others come in to fulfil the requests. Some of these requests range
from
headshots
to McDonalds hash brown
delivery
.
They launched out of Startup
Weekend
this year and
have moved quickly. Although there are competitors in the space, the
idea of helping facilitate local commerce (like one of my favorite
companies Milo.com did) truly is a big idea. It can help solve so many
inefficiencies in the job market if executed well.

Here are some thoughts, then my 3 point action plan for Zaarly.\

Good Stories

You want to get people to evangelize Zaarly by having great experiences,
and then sharing these experiences with others. One way to do this is to
work on satisfying very specific use cases consistently. Setting up a
Zaarly booth with an “I’d pay X for Y” sign and being the fulfiler for a
specific item each week, would help people understand the cases in which
they can think about using Zaarly, and create some of the stories they
are looking for. Having a big open platform is definitely the way to go,
but people have to understand what is possible first. A few ideas :

\

  • Cold water and water bottles

  • Ice cream samples (can partner with Ben & Jerrys truck)

  • Umbrellas in the rain

Find Major Use Cases

You want a platform to be open, but you need to get people into the
habit of posting Zaarly’s first. In order to get them posting, they have
to have some specific idea as to how the platform can be leveraged. I
find that mostZaarlys on the site are for physical products (usually at
an unrealistic price), but I think Zaarly can be best utilized for basic
services. Find out what some of these basic uses are, either through
mining the fulfiled Zaarly, or by searching the requests people put out
on twitter and facebook.

Reputation

A reputation system for fulfillers is important so that you know who to
trust in fulfilling. After the AirBnB
debacle
,
it is clear that even though you are simply adding a layer over
interpersonal communication, you still bear the brunt of the blame if
things go wrong. Protect your users by helping to verify the reputation
of all on the system, and encourage commerce between friends.

SMS

Needs to be broken up into multiple sms’s, as most times when I get it,
I miss most of the info.

Routing Requests

Find ways to route requests to the people who are most capable of
fulfilling them. At the last NYTM,
Ron at Snap Goods demo’d Knod.es, which helps you to find the right
people in your network to connect. It would be a great tool to add to
the system, as trust is higher within your own social circle, even if a
reputation system is established.

Syndicating requests to other platforms (like what is being done on
twitter with the Zaarly feeds) also makes sense, but needs to be taken
further.

Also, since many of these tasks are time sensitive, its important that
the right person for the job finds out about the tasks they can fulfil
quickly.

Action Steps

Here are the things I would do if running Zaarly:

Push Notifications

Have the Zaarly fulfillerslist the items and services they have
available. Let them add tags to their listings. When new people post
their Zaarlys, have them also add tags and try to do some matching to
find the right person for the job immediately. Send a push notification
to the fulfiller to see if they would be interested.

Connect With Offices (for posting Zaarlys)

I can envision offices and co-working spaces like WeWork Labs, New Work
City, and General Assembly having individuals with very simple needs
that need to be taken care of. Especially since most of the people at
these places are in small (under 10 employee) companies or freelancing,
having Zaarly on their side to help fulfil some of these needs will help
them free up time to concentrate on the areas of their business that
matter the most. Partner with them to be their concierge of sorts.

Connect With Companies (for fulfilling Zaarlys)

Although the ethos of the company is to help individuals connect with
each other, it is beneficial to have companies that may be able to
service a large amount of Zaarlys on board. If lots of people are asking
for DVDs (a la
Kozmo in the late
90’s), it may bebeneficialto get a local dvd store to help fulfil or
route requests.

Multimedia Posts

I am sure this is on the roadmap, but some things aren’t communicated
well through text. Pictures and video will help to make browsing and
understanding requests easier.

Zaarly Staff

Employ people to aid in the process of routing requests locally. People
who are experts about the city and are a human dispatch on top of
theautomatedpush notification system.

Drop Ins

Surprise offices or major events with something relevant to what they
are in need of. I believe strongly that surprising customers (and
potential customers) with something good and needed helps to build
loyalty. After you build relationships with offices, drop in every once
in a while and surprise them with something.

Wish I was in NYC tonight to see Zaarly demo at NYTM, but grandma’s 90th
birthday takesprecedence. Hope everything goes well!

(Thanks to Deepen Parikh
for reviewing this)

Frank Denbow

Founder. Dancer. Entrepreneur.

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