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Could the Emergence of Zaarly Signal the End of the Taxi?


If you’re a young club-goer living in Santa Monica, California and you take a roundtrip taxi to Hollywood (about 12 miles each way) twice a month, you’ll end up paying over $1,600 per year making that trip. That represents 50% of the total amount the average American household spends on healthcare each year.

Why so expensive? Well, cabbies have bills to pay. Their cars exist for the sole purpose of transporting people in exchange for money. If they don’t bring enough in, all the cash goes towards car payments, the cab company, and, depending on the city in which they operate, expensive licensing fees. After that, they may be left with nothing to take home for themselves. Taxis are so pricey because drivers are being crushed under the weight of their operating costs.

Compare that to a hypothetical world where an individual needing a ride would simply get on their smartphone and name their desired location and the amount they are willing to pay. Then, car-owners (literally anyone who owns a car) within the same geographic area could make the decision as to whether or not to accept the offer. If you’re heading to Hollywood anyways, why not let someone occupy your passenger seat for $10? In this scenario, there is literally no marginal cost for adding a passenger. The taxi cab business model simply can’t compete with that.

In this same hypothetical world, if you own a car and are bored with nothing to do on a Friday night, why not check your smartphone to see if anyone nearby needs a ride? You already own your car, so the only marginal cost for you is gas. If it takes a gallon of gas for the round trip from Santa Monica to Hollywood, your marginal cost is $4.60. Anything you receive in excess of that is pure profit.

Think about it. As a poor college student, would you have accepted $20 to drive someone across town? I know I would have.  Give five rides in an evening and pay for your biology textbook or a week’s worth of bar tabs.

Within the next few weeks this hypothetical world could become a reality. Zaarly’s proximity based, real-time platform will allow anyone to put a price on anything (my focus in this post is on transportation, but the possibilities are truly endless).

Could Zaarly Kill the Taxi Industry?

Zaarly can match drivers to riders in mere seconds. No yellow cars with a partition and a meter needed. Peer-to-peer rideshare is not a brand new concept, but the only programs that seem to achieve success are those that involve routes that are known well in advance and are recurring, like work commutes. What sets Zaarly apart is the “real-time” aspect of the platform. Currently, I can go on Craigslist and click the “rideshare” section and request a ride from Santa Monica to Long Beach, but I’d have to create a post and description, click “publish,” and wait for the confirmation email to come through before responses came pouring in (which would come over a three day period from seemingly anonymous users). Zaarly can take a three day process and shorten it to a matter of seconds. I choose where I want to go, when I want to go, and how much I’m willing to pay, and someone nearby will accept, provided the offer was reasonable.

With a taxi or Craigslist, there’s an uneasy feeling of anonymity that riders feel: they have no clue how good or bad previous customers’ experiences were with a given car/driver. With Zaarly, the user-feedback system will provide comfort and allow you to choose a driver who is experienced and trustworthy. Don’t want to accept a ride from someone new to the service? Then don’t. User feedback will make drivers accountable for the experiences they provide.

Zaarly will be faster, closer, and more personal than Craigslist when it comes to the exchange of any good or service (not just rides). Until now, craigslist has provided a nice moat around the space that Zaarly intends to fill, not allowing would-be challengers an opportunity to gain any traction in this realm.

Zaarly has the platform and the firepower necessary to disrupt the taxi cab industry in a way that Craigslist never could. Providing a ride across town is practically unskilled labor requiring only a driver’s license and a car, assets that over 90% of households already have at their disposal. With that kind of supply currently sitting idle, it’s about time that a trip across town became a whole lot cheaper.

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NYC: One of the best communities to launch a company with

Exhausted.  Inspired.  Excited.  There’s nothing quite like waking up after a three hour nap to catch a 6am flight from Chicago to New York City. It’s getting easier to get up in the morning because of knowing what lies ahead.  Sara, Shane and I cruised over to the Big Apple for our second of seven meet ups with our Dream Teams and several meetings with really inspiring groups of people.

The team arrived a little after 9am after almost missing our flight (thank you hotel front desk guy), getting stuck in what seemed like the longest security line ever, passing out immediately on the plane and a rough touch down.  Good news?  It was supposedly one of the most beautiful days this year in New York City.  Bad news?  We were starving after no dinner (turns out we’ve been too excited and focused) and no breakfast (timing).

Lunch time!

We met up with Jessica Lawrence (NYTM), David Spinks (BlogDash) and Michael Constantiner (FastSociety).  This was a really great group of personalities in the NYC Tech scene and just kick ass people.  We talked current projects, future plans and of course what we need to do to make Zaarly a smashing success in the city.

After lunch I mentioned I was hoping to stop by Dogpatch Labs to say hi to a buddy Trevor Owens (Lean Startup Machine) and found out that FastSociety was actually working out of there as well.  Perfect.  Lots of cool things going on in that place and just a great vibe.  I wish I had the chance to stop by New Work City (personal favorite) and the much buzzed about General Assembly as well.  Next time…

Everyone we spoke with had either already heard of Zaarly or was really interested.

Tour through NYC

The tour continued with a meeting with Lane Wood and Paull Young at Charity Water.  Our platform lends itself well to some really creative fundraising opportunities and Charity Water is high on the list of potential partners.  We talked integration, promotion and execution.  Got some big ideas down on paper.  That group is doing some incredible things.

Vayner Media was next on the list where we chatted with Marcus Krzastek about their recent growth, marketing tactics, hiring and the absence of a previously known beard.  We both love to build and engage communities.  Shane and I also had some great feedback from AJ Vaynerchuck about Zaarly.

People are beyond excited.

Shane setup a meeting with Jonathan Crowley at the FourSquare HQ to discuss some downstream opportunities.  We came up with some clever ideas beforehand and needless to say, the future looks bright.

The right things keep on happening.

By now it was close to happy hour time so we cruised over to our destination for a get together some of our Dream Teamers planned.  We were hoping that ten to fifteen people would show up before the team meeting.  It started at 6pm and 30 minutes in we had taken over the entire bar area.  The level of talent from across many NYC scenes was mind blowing, but what happened next was the kicker.  It was time to move downstairs to talk strategy and get with the core team.  Sara made the announcement to the group that the happy hour was over and that we would be starting soon.  Almost every single person headed down.  Most of which were not on the official Dream Team…Until now!

In.Spir.Ational! (say it slow)

We spent the next two hours with our new team telling stories, getting organized and talking actions.  Most common quote of the night?

“What can I do to help you guys?  Just let me know and I’ll make it happen.”

What started off as a small community has totally transformed in to what will be a major movement.  A very special thanks goes out to everyone who attended and Sara Davidson for coordinating such a magnificent group of people.  Thank you from the entire Zaarly team.

The bar has been raised.

San Francisco strut your stuff.  Can you out do Chicago and New York City?


HOW TO: Put time back on your calendar using technology

Managing work, school, family demands and trying to squeeze in a social life can be difficult these days. Savvy users of mobile technology are discovering that properly integrating certain mobile apps into your life can save valuable time in your busy day.

If you’ve ever uploaded a photo to Instagr.am or checked Twitter while standing in line for coffee, you understand the freedom and time-saving value provided by 21st century mobile technology.

And even though you can’t put 25 hours in a day, there are more ways than ever to maximize each of those 24 hours.

Manage your calendar and t0-do list

Services like MobileMe enable you to access and manage your email, contacts, calendar, photos, and files all online. You can add an event to your the calendar on your phone and automatically sync to the calendar on your laptop and desktop via the cloud.

Several different to-do list and reminder apps, such as the Evernote app, let you do everything from recording voice notes to jotting down those brilliant ideas in the middle of the night to taking pictures of whiteboards in your office that you need to refer to later.

And if you need to share files between home and office, the Air Sharing app enables you to make your phone a thumb drive. You can view slideshows, documents and PDFs and more.

Build relationships

Several hot new group chat apps such as Beluga enables you to keep in touch with groups of friends or family all at once. Group messaging apps make it simple to communicate with the people you want to communicate with. You can quickly create and reorganize social circles, on the go, according to the situation. And that communication is as private as you want it to be.

Travel with ease

The Kayak app can help you locate the best deals on hotels, air fare, car rentals — and even help you save money by enabling you to look up baggage fees.

TripIt trip planner keeps all of your travel plans in one spot, so you can quickly retrieve confirmation numbers, addresses and itineraries from your phone.

Further your education 

Remember the days of Encyclopedia Britannica salesmen going door-to-door trying to sell you dozens of volumes of books? Well now all of those books can fit in your pocket.

You can find a plethora of education apps ranging from first grade math to graduate level physics. A new app called Voxy lets you incorporate learning a new language into the flow of your life.

And if you’re in school, or your son on daughter is, the MyHomework app will ensure that you always remember the due dates for papers and homework assignments.

Shop til you drop

You can use apps like RedLaser to do comparison shopping and find the best price. The Amazon app provides one-click ordering and allows you to make quick purchases on Amazon’s site. Target offers an app that allows you to scan the stores weekly ad instantly, see clearance items and buy products without even getting in your car. Yowza shows you coupons from stores near you using GPS, and there’s no need for clipping — the barcode appears on your phone screen. And you can pay for everything electronically using PayPal.

Manage daily activities 

There’s an app to manage every part of your day — from alarm clock apps to help you wake up in the morning to relaxation apps to help you fall asleep at night.

You can keep track of your password, bank account numbers and other important information using 1Password. Manage your finances with iXpenseIt, a smart and handy tool to log, track and manage your daily expenses and budget.

Prepare a meal using Woman’s Day Cooking Assistanta personal cooking assistant that includes meal ideas, cooking tools, and more to make cooking easier. Or don’t feel like cooking? Urbanspoon can find a restaurants in your area, complete with reviews. And after dinner you can use the QuickTip Tip Calculator to determine the appropriate tip you should give based on the amount of the bill. And even locate the gas stations with the cheapest fuel prices using the Fuel Finder app.

If you constantly find yourself sitting inside your house on a Saturday afternoon, use the free Geodelic app to search for shops, attractions and restaurants in your area. The app also senses what your interests are and will suggest places to visit in your town. And you can find your way around using Google Maps.

For a busy person, Zaarly is the perfect app. Even if you can’t afford hiring a full-time assistant, Zaarly can help you check some mundane tasks off your to-do list. Whether you’re looking for help personally (buying weekly groceries) or professionally (market research, data entry), Zaarly can connect you with people to provide the work you need, when you need it, at the price you’re willing to pay.

Now, if only there was an app to help you download all these apps…


An amazing team. An amazing city. Thank you Chicago.

As we set out to meet our teams of city organizers this week, I wasn’t sure how we, the Zaarly team, would be received. Everything was great in our pre-meetings and it seemed like the Chicago Dream Team was ready to rock but I kept wondering how it would be when we showed up. How would it be when we bridge all these online connections offline.

One word; amazing.

I was in Chicago for a total of 24 hours and I was lucky to have such a great team who put together an entire day of events.

Sara Davidson and Tim McDonald kicked off a great lunch at PrimeBar with a few bloggers along with some interesting mommy bloggers and reporters. Here’s the list of all who attended. Great to meet such an awesome group (@tombesore @dshanahan @bethrosen @saradavidson

@Zaarly_Chicago @melanie_adcock @thatgirlmari @hofmania @shanemac @alexklevine)

After lunch was a quick meetup with the Social Media Club Chicago President, Jeff Willinger. A great guy with an awesome sense of humor and willingness to help that is humbling to say the least.

It’s truly inspiring when everyone just says, “How can I help?”

A quick stop by our investors office and a tour of Groupon (holy smokes is this a sales machine) and then we were off to an afternoon design call from the corner of Michigan Ave.

Another awesome moment happened after that. I was lucky to see that Hashable was in town hosting an event and I sent a note to Hashable’s CEO, Michael Yavonditte, and ended up having a great meeting at Fado’s Irish pub.

Smart man, even better to just talk ideas with.

After that, it was off to the Hashable meetup and then our Dream Team meeting.

This is when I was blown away. 20 people, all whom were mostly strangers, came together to be a part of something. A movement. A community. This is a thank you to all of the people who I can call part of the team in Chicago.

3 hours of planning, ideas and most of all… stories.

Stories on why people were there. Why they want to be a part. Why they believe in what we’re doing.

Zaarly is truly all about the community and Chicago just set the bar high for how to build it.

As I arrive in NYC this morning, I can’t tell you how thankful I am for the Chicago team but now I am left wondering, can NYC beat last night?

We’ll see. Here’s to building communities and connecting people.

From the Zaarly team; Thank you.

Shane Mac


Helpful Apps to Get You Through College

photo: Elliot Margolies

I am 22 years young and still leisurely making my way through college, I mean what is the rush? The economy is still recovering from its post recession hangover. Few employers are hiring or paying a decent amount for me to survive somewhat comfortably. Gas costs me a finger and a half every time I go to pump. So I choose to enjoy my time in college with my friends, rather than having to struggle out in the real world.

My college life consists of attending classes more often than ditching them, finding a free meal as much as possible, studying to the brim of exhaustion and working part-time here and there to cover the costs of going out on the weekends. Every week there are new challenges to conquer and obstacles to surpass. A majority of students do agree that with all the fun that a college lifestyle brings, it also brings an ample amount of struggle. Struggle that makes you wish there were thirty hours in a day and four-day weekends every other week. Since that scenario is nearly impossible to attain, us college students rely on something else to help us get through those grueling weeks of deadlines and tests. That “something” is actually our smartphones and laptops.

With the emergence of applications for phones and computers, a lot of daily hassles have become minimized and very organized for students like me who are usually discombobulated. Described below are several different types of apps that have helped me through hours of classes, studying, and student life.

USEFUL STUDENT APPLICATIONS:

There were a few months in my freshman year where I relied on the basic cooking necessities to get me through the day, which consisted of only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yes, there were those special days where I would make eggs in the morning and a turkey sandwich to keep me happy for the rest of the day, but that was very rare. So obviously I am thankful that I stumbled upon the Easy Recipe application. The app includes over 150,000 recipes for dishes and drinks. Any common dummy can make most of the food dishes and drinks in this simple to operate app. For $.99, it is a great buy!

photo: Oren Levine

I am appreciative for those hip-hop artists who made wearing sunglasses indoors a common fashion trend in today’s society. I agree that it is very foolish, but it did allow me to take power naps through those three-hour lectures. As soon as professors caught on to the new “fashion trend”, I had to find something else to keep my mind awake. Words With Friends Free does the trick. It is a simple word building, Scrabble-like, board game on your phone where you can compete with your friends or random opponents to make words that score points. Not only did it help me get through those tiresome days, it kept me connected to my friends, and also sharpened up my diction.

It is an accurate assumption to say that most students’ days are very hectic and unorganized; too many things going on at a million miles per hour for our brains to compute. I am one of those dislocated students, so I had to find someway to keep track of all the programs, classes, practices, and meetings that I have to attend on a weekly basis. I found my organization savior in the app called Droplist ToDo. It is very simple to use; you start typing your activities and the app creates a task for you. Set the time for a certain task to be completed and you are prepared to go for the day.

I recently downloaded the newly released app Tweetbot for my daily Twitter usage. In my opinion it is the best Twitter client application with the most streamline and simple interface. Tweetbot keeps me updated on what all the friends are doing around campus, as well as sports updates, and news. I suggest you try it out.

How about a little tutoring for some of your classes? I had a major that only requires one semester of college algebra and once I finished that, my brain decided to mass erase all my knowledge of numbers. So when I switched my major to business and I found out that it required me to take calculus and stats classes, I was a deer caught in headlights. No need to fear though, a friend suggested that I should check out the educational apps from Wolfram Alpha. Their apps help you get through algebra, calculus, even music classes, and each app is fairly inexpensive.

photo: Lucas Richarz

Zaarly is an app that I am eagerly looking forward to using. Do you need something and do you need it quick, “Zaarly” it. This video gives you a brief demonstration on how Zaarly can be utilized. I can imagine myself rushing to class for my biology midterm only to forget to pick up a scantron at the little college market all the way across my enormous campus. I would probably offer $10 for someone to get me a scantron and to deliver it in the next 10 minutes. They would be making enough money to buy lunch and I would have a scantron without missing the test. I could also imagine using Zaarly if I was having a late night study session in the library and starving for a burger. It’s as simple as naming a request and what I’m willing to pay for it and someone will bring it to me!  There  possibilities are endless when you have such an application on your phone.

I hope that theses applications can make your college life a little less stressful than normal. There are plenty more out there to help you out, but part of the fun is discovering them for yourself.

If you want to see an extensive list of useful phone applications for your phone check out this post by BestUniversities.com

Joseph Aslam
@josephLOUDreams
LOUDreams.com


Zaarly can Change the World by Unlocking Trapped Value

A very Zen pile of rocks with Zaarly balanced on top.

I was part of the Zaarly team at Startup Weekend and although my contribution was minor, I’m proud to have been part of the visioning process for this revolutionary product.

So it came as a shock when one of my friends left this rant on my Facebook page recently, in response to a link I had posted for the new Zaarly website:

Whatever happened to you meditating in a cave for 40 days, Prabhu?

Forgive me if I’ve got the wrong impression, but this seems like capitalism and consumerism fused together and gone horribly wrong, appealing to lazy, fat Americans with too much money to fulfill their emptiest desires and whims whilst chanting the mantra “everyone has their price” ….???

Will it be launching in 3rd world countries and will it accommodate requests like “I’d like a clean water supply for my village, is anyone prepared to do it for under $10?”

To provide some context, I used to teach yoga full time and this was a former yoga student who made the comment on Facebook. I did indeed do a 100-day meditation retreat in a cave – although it’s not nearly as hard-core as it sounds. A Kitchen, bathroom and shower were a short walk away.

This rant caught me off guard, but I understood where she was coming from. I had been watching the media coverage of Zaarly with some dismay. There was too much talk about using Zaarly to have someone bring you beer or score an epic night on the town – or hangover supplies the morning after.

Don’t get me wrong – those are valid use cases. But that’s not what excited me about Zaarly when a group of strangers were brainstorming at the Coloft late on a Friday night this past February.

We all experienced a collective epiphany that night – a massive “Aha!” moment when the realization of how revolutionary this idea could be dawned on us.

It’s not easy to put these things into words, but the train of thought went something like this.

Someone pointed out that “it’s all about the offer – that’s what’s unique here, that’s what we need to focus on.” …

As that started to sink in, we talked about how we could put the power back into the hands of the buyer …

And then we realized how this could unlock so much trapped value… potential benefit that is just sitting there, waiting for a catalyst to activate it.

“Opportunity is all around you!” we exclaimed! Sounds like some mumbo jumbo from The Secret – but think about it for a moment.

People may have a skill or resource that others need without even knowing it.

Or perhaps they know it, but don’t have an easy way to connect with the people who need it.

I have so many friends who are self-employed. They offer quite a range of products and services – pet sitting, haircuts, hand-made greeting cards, and children’s yoga to name a few.

One of the biggest challenges they face is finding and connecting with people who want what they offer.

It makes me smile when I think that someday soon, my friend Stacy could respond to a Zaarly offer like “I’d pay $75 for someone to come to my house and give me a haircut within the next hour.” Or Mara could respond to a request for a truly unique, custom wedding invitation. Or Kelly could teach a playful spin on yoga in response to an offer like “I’d pay $100 for a fun idea for my 5-year old’s birthday party this weekend.”

According to my mentors at the 10K SB program, Los Angeles has more small businesses than any other U.S. city. My husband and I own one of those businesses – we make mobile apps with maps. Our crappy little services business is on track to grow 70% this year.

Managing this growth is a challenge – just take a look at our website, it’s terrible. We’re like the cobbler with bad shoes. Sure, we could redesign it ourselves…. if only we had the time. We know some great designers – they’re booked. We’d love to connect with someone new. Zaarly is perfect for this.

In fact, as we grow our business, we need to expand our network of people who can provide a variety of services – everything from running errands to graphic design. I’m hoping that Zaarly is going to introduce us to many new collaborators and we can all grow together.

But the most exciting aspect of this idea of unlocking trapped value are the things I can’t even imagine – the creative ways that industrious people will use Zaarly as a platform to launch an entirely new kind of business.

As Sean Tierney said recently, “Entire businesses that were heretofore not feasible will be enabled by the existence of this tool.” Sean has put this into words far better than I ever could; so rather than try, I’ll recommend that you read his post.

This idea of unlocking value is just one of the things that interests me about Zaarly. I haven’t even talked about putting the power into the hands of buyers – another idea I touched on at the beginning. Perhaps I’ll write something about that later, if the Zaarly folks let me get up on my soapbox again.

To wrap up this rather long-winded blog post, I’d like to circle back to the beginning – my friend’s Facebook rant.

I’m going out on a limb and this may sound ridiculous… but here it goes.

Even if I were still sitting in retreat, I could use Zaarly to request food deliveries. People who meditate still need to eat. Instead hoping (praying?) a sangha member will offer to make a food run when I need it, someone from town could do it. It helps me maintain my silence and seclusion – the food can just show up in a box in the kitchen with my name on it. My helper will earn some money, accumulate merit, and may even become curious about meditation. Win win!

And who’s to say that Zaarly can’t become a powerful platform for activism and philanthropy. The way I see it, wherever you have people who value something and people who can provide it, Zaarly can bring them together and be the catalyst.


And the road show begins…

Helllllo Zaarly community!  I’ve been trying to keep my excitement contained for the past few weeks, but it’s just not possible with everything we have going on.  I’m Adam Hofmann, Zaarly’s Director of Marketing and Community Development.  What that really means is I figure out the best way to get each of you involved with Zaarly on a hyper local level. So let me welcome you to our growing group of Zaarlyvangelists.

I’ll start off by simply saying, “Whoa! Can you believe this?”

Just a little over 8 weeks ago Zaarly was birthed at LA Startup Weekend.

Three weeks later we ran a successful experiment at South By Southwest.  Over $10,000 in transactions in 48 hours.

We’ve built badass teams on both the development and marketing front.

And what some of you might not know, we have over 150 enthusiastic individuals in seven cities working with us to make sure Zaarly is HUGE.

Our baller marketing coordinators Sara Davidson, Jeff Morris, Briana Saunders and Kyle Doherty have been furiously piecing together what we affectionately call our Dream Teams. Yesterday kicked off our ten-day tour around the country to meet with them face to face. I’m on the road with my counterpart, Shane Mac and our marketing coordinators to intimately get to know each member of the team, their communities and their stories.

Along the way we’ll be sharing our thoughts, reflections and inspirational moments on the blog and with a few videos.

We want to highlight the people we meet, the stories they share and the things we learn.

Last night we were in Chicago and the excitement we felt was enough to show us that this thing is going to work. But we aren’t stopping. We’ll be in NYC today and tomorrow. Then it’s off to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, DC and Boston. That’s just the beginning.

We’ve seen the abilities of these teams and we want more all across the US. In order for that to happen we need more people like the ones on our Dream Teams.

Want to join?