Bo Fishback – Co-Founder and CEO of Zaarly

[quote style=”boxed”]Also, when in doubt, act. Lots of people have great ideas, but if you don’t actually start working on them then they stay just that… ideas.[/quote]

Bo Fishback is the co-founder and CEO of Zaarly, a proximity-based, real-time, buyer-powered market where buyers make an offer for an immediate need and sellers cash in on their local marketplace. If you’ve ever said, “I’d pay ______ for _______” then Zaarly is for you. If you’ve ever said “I want money,” well… you’re welcome. Previously, Fishback was the president of Kauffman Labs and the vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation.

What are you working on right now?

Product and Market. We’re totally focused on learning what’s working and what’s not from our users and community members and iterating on the product to better help them get the most out of the Zaarly platform. Practically, this means everything from running focus groups, to engaging with our users on social media to running email campaigns. We’ve only been live about 13 weeks at this point so we’re still learning really quickly from our users and expect that we will be for the foreseeable future. We’ve got a couple of really exciting features slated to roll out over the next month and are in the final stages of getting those ready for testing.

What does your typical day look like?

Ha! Almost impossible to answer this as “typical” is not how I would describe any day yet at Zaarly. At a high level, it’s basically meetings with white-boarding, phone calls, email, and writing — lately, as we’ve been hiring, recruiting and meeting with potential team members has been increasingly important. But very little of that is easy to predict or cast as typical. The majority of my time the last two months has been spent between product direction and community engagement. Over the next two months I think I’ll end up doing a little more recruiting and community engagement and a little less product work because we’ve started to get a pretty clear idea of what our roadmap looks like for the next couple months. 🙂

A day in the life might look like this or some derivation of this…
4:30 am   – Feed baby
5:30 am   – hopefully sleep, but usually catch up with previous night on HipChat
8:00 am   – breakfast with some external to Zaarly. Usually a potential partner or another entrepreneur.
9:30 am   – email.
10:30 am – calls start. I’m usually on two standups a day dealing with different initiatives at Zaarly.
12:00 pm – hopefully eat
12:30 pm – email catch up + scheduling
2:00 pm   – touch base with Ian and Eric (co-founders)
3:00 pm   – meetings. Sometimes external, usually internal dealing with understanding how we’re doing on a day over day or week over week basis. On my favorite days I talk to our power users to understand how we’re doing from their perspective.
5:00 pm   – ping pong game
5:12 pm   – email.
6:00 pm   – interview potential candidates
7:00 pm   – feed/change baby & dinner with Shelby (my wife)
8:30 pm   – Plug back into HipChat and read support inquiries that came into Zaarly that day
11:00 pm – Bed time

3 trends that excite you?

  • Smarter entrepreneurs.
  • Incredible designers and developers working together.
  • Mobile payments.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Recruit the smartest people I know to help me.

If you can’t do this, you shouldn’t proceed. If you can, then it’s just focused hard work and learning fast. Continually tapping the best of our network and staying focused is what has fueled everything at Zaarly up to this point.

Also, when in doubt, act. Lots of people have great ideas, but if you don’t actually start working on them then they stay just that… ideas.

What inspires you?

People who build awesome things inspire me… I’m even inspired by competitors if it’s clear that they are building something that could really matter. I just love being a part of the ecosystem of people who create the future.

Lately, I’ve been super inspired by the team at Zaarly. I’ve never seen such commitment and focus from a team. I feel hugely fortunate to be a part of it.
I’m a new dad (my wife and I have an eight week old son named Pierce at home)… it’s impossible to not be inspired by that. It’s been pretty amazing.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Not taking the time to understand the decision making process and dynamics at potential partners very early in the engagement.

Every conversation with potential partners starts out great, but as soon as any complications are introduced (which will always happen at startups) you better have a clear understanding of how your partners make decisions. From now on, I’ll always spend time understanding how my partners work going forward, if decisions are made at the CEO level, then make sure you know and understand the CEO, if they are made by a partnership, make sure you understand the partnership dynamics.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’d love to see a really high quality corporate email analytics tool that is made for CEO’s. Something that could visually show you how your organization is communicating both internally and externally. Pretty nerdy, but I think it could be a hugely valuable tool for both large companies and companies that are scaling quickly. If someone has already made this, please email me. 🙂

What do you read every day? Why?

A non-business book (not an entire book everyday obviously, but something for a little balance, currently I’m reading Cutting for Stone).

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

This will change regularly, but at the moment I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Super Sad True Love Story. I’ve read probably 10 books since I read this but it’s the only one that I’ve read in the last year and still think about on a regular basis.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

Other than Zaarly? HipChat. We use it like crazy at Zaarly and I love it… best team chat software I’ve ever seen by far.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Jeff Bezos
Also Paul Kedrosky cause I just love him and he’d be a great interview. 🙂

What’s the most important decision you’ve made so far?

Co-founders. I can’t possibly overstate how amazing it is to have two total badasses for co-founders. Building a company like Zaarly would be totally impossible if I didn’t have two partners that I totally and completely trust. There is zero chance this company would exist without all three of us pouring every single bit of our energy into it.

Can you be a good husband/dad while building a startup like Zaarly?

I hope so. It’s definitely not easy. I’m trying… my wife is a saint. 🙂

Connect :

@bofishback on Twitter