Congratulations Zaarly! $14 million and Meg Whitman on the board

This article was originally published by John Cook on GeekWire on Oct 24, 2011.

Zaarly was started earlier this year at a Startup Weekend event in California. Today, the fast-growing upstart is announcing that it is entering the big leagues, naming former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to the board and pulling in $14.1 million in a venture deal led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Other investors include Sands Capital Ventures, CMEA, Venture51, Crunchfund, Mark Ecko and others. Often drawing comparisons to Craigslist, Zaarly allows users to post products or services for sale and get connected with possible buyers nearby.

“Just as consumers once left off-line marketplaces to join online marketplaces such as eBay, Craigslist and Amazon, they’re now migrating to mobile marketplaces, like Zaarly,” said Whitman in a statement. “Mobile, local marketplaces will shift how people buy and sell goods, services, and experiences. This is the next generation of eCommerce.”

Zaarly has several connections to Seattle, with three of its 30 employees based here. Its chief marketing officer and co-founder is Eric Koester, a former Seattle startup attorney and board member for Startup Weekend.

Koester tells GeekWire that the company is “very excited” about the venture round and Whitman’s participation on the board. There’s ”lots of work ahead, but glad to add these partners to help us continue to refine, grow and expand,” said Koester, who showcased the service at the recent TechNW event in Seattle when he paid $30 to have a six-pack of beer delivered to his panel.

Seattle is Zaarly’s seventh most active market, with people currently looking for bicycles, concert tickets, sofas and video games.

In total, more than $6.75 million in requests have been posted to Zaarly since its launch.

I asked Koester for a bit more information on how being a graduate of Startup Weekend impacted Zaarly. Here’s what he had to say:

We’re proud to be a Startup Weekend alum — that community has truly embraced us and we hope it shows other entrepreneurs to bring your best ideas to Startup Weekend because it is an incredible place to start your business.

Startup Weekend instilled the “go fast” attitude and has pushed us to continually ship new features, listen to the community, iterate and evolve the product for our users.

I don’t think any of us envisioned on Friday night of Startup Weekend that we’d have something like Zaarly on our hands. But it goes to show that if you take a big idea and give it to a hard-working, smart team, that anything can happen.

maris@startupweekend.org'
by Maris