The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette gets “Zaarly-ed”

Growing marketplace website could soon be a one-stop shop for local students – at least according to its co-founder, a Marquette alumnus.

Eric Koester, chief operating officer of the company and a 1999 graduate of the College of Business Administration, joined with co-founder and entrepreneur Bo Fishback and actor and investor Ashton Kutcher to launch the site, which mixes elements of Facebook and eBay.

Founded in May of this year, the site displays a Google-like map of a user’s location with pinpoints they can scroll over with their mouse. These pinpoints are at locations where someone wants something and display the price they are willing to pay to get it. The pinpoints also list the length of time the buyer is willing to wait.

If someone has the item the person is looking for, they can follow a link labeled, “I’ve Got That!” and get in touch with the potential buyer. The seller and the recipient then discuss their terms and proceed with either a credit card or cash transaction.

Around the Marquette campus, for example, there are currently nine people waiting to be “Zaarly-ed” for various items. These items range from mundane (an Intro to Theology book for $20) to slightly more expensive (a Sprint Android phone for $100) to outright bizarre (a picture of a daisy riding a scooter for $20).

Two Zaarly requests that have been fulfilled at Marquette were a request for a stuffed walrus, which was supplied for $7 somewhere near North 18th Street and West Kilbourn Avenue and the request for a desk to be built for $30.

As a whole, has facilitated more than $3.5 million dollars of transactions since it began in May. There are now more than 50,000 users nationwide.

Koester said he and the staff have been constantly busy with the site and he has been pleasantly surprised with the initial growth of the company.

He said the ultimate goal for the site is for it to be “the way people buy and sell with those around them—a one-stop shop.”

According to Adam Hofmann, the company’s director of marketing, one way Zaarly is distinctive from eBay or Craigslist is the fact that the posts are of things you want to buy, rather than what you are trying to sell.

Hofmann also said the company tries to be as close to real-time as possible—posting updates of “Zaarly’s” not only on the website but also on Facebook and Twitter. There is also a smart phone application for the service.

Joe Scannell, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, was made Marquette’s official “Campus CEO,” the person in charge of spreading the word at Marquette, by Koester when the site launched its ZaarlyU marketing plan.

Scannell said students who pay attention to Zaarly could probably earn hundreds of dollars throughout the course of a semester by fulfilling requests.

ZaarlyU is available at 20 major universities around the country and is an attempt to bolster college student participation on the site, Hofmann said. He also said a college campus is the ideal place for such a service.

Scannell recalled one time over the summer when he visited an office building in his hometown of Chicago — at Koester’s request — to sing his version of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” for $30.

Scannell also said he was able to furnish his entire apartment for $150 earlier this summer.

Both Hofmann and Koester praised the effectiveness of the site’s anti-fraud safeguards, saying moderators have been known to investigate claims and ban users within five minutes.

Koester said the company has also hired a security expert from YouTube.

Hofmann also said the site has received its fair share of lewd content being requested, but this content is filtered out through a robust algorithm and site moderators.

One minor glitch with Zaarly was reported by on July 25, stating that users’ phone numbers and private messages had become available for the public to see. The article also reported Fishback, the co-founder, saying the bug was fixed within 15 minutes of the company becoming aware of it — about a week later.

Hofmann said security issues, especially those involving credit card numbers and personal information, are at the top of the administrators’ minds.

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