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.
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 most Zaarlys 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.
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.
Needs to be broken up into multiple sms’s, as most times when I get it, I miss most of the info.
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.
Here are the things I would do if running Zaarly:
Have the Zaarly fulfillers list 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 be beneficial to get a local dvd store to help fulfil or route requests.
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.
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 the automated push notification system.
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 takes precedence. Hope everything goes well!
(Thanks to Deepen Parikh for reviewing this)