“All large companies were once startups,” contends Marco Zappacosta the co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Thumbtack.com. And today, like many startups birthed from humble beginnings, Zappacosta is well on his way to becoming a much larger industry player, more quickly than he ever expected.
Just over three years ago the young entrepreneur decided to take a risk, move into his parent’s basement in Silicon Valley and build the now 250,000 member strong, community market place for local services.
With new merchant signups every three minutes, Marco’s dream to become the Amazon of local services is not out of reach. The online marketplace boasts a wide selection of service professionals in all 50 states in categories from home improvement to health & beauty to tutoring and event services.
Learn how Zappacosta and co-founder Jonathan Swanson launched Thumbtack.com and why you must overcome naysayers and let no obstacle stand in your way.
|Marco Zappacosta, 27 and co-founder Jonathan Swanson
|San Francisco, CA
How We Got Started
In 2009, a group of us started Thumbtack.com while we were in college. We knew we wanted to start a company, so we brainstormed ideas on a weekly conference call for an entire year. After reviewing our best ideas, we finally decided on the idea we wanted to pursue.
Our goal was to develop an online marketplace for local services. Any local service business could market itself using our free listing service and users would be able to easily find and book almost any service you can imagine on the site.
We brought an engineer on board, moved into my parent’s basement in Silicon Valley, and the rest is history.
Today we have over 250,000 independent professionals and small businesses listed on Thumbtack. The services vary from home services, including general contractors and house cleaning to event services such as wedding photographers and caterers. We also list a lot of crazy and fun services … ash scatterers, party bus rentals and magicians.
Best Success Story
We have had more success than we ever could have imagined. We are growing rapidly and approaching 1 million monthly unique visitors to our site. Also, over the past nine months, merchant signups on Thumbtack.com have doubled. On average, every three minutes a new small business is creating a Thumbtack profile.
We have grown the company to eleven people in San Francisco and more than 100 members in the Philippines. Our dream is to become the Amazon of local services, where anyone can find and book a local service.
Biggest Startup Challenge
Our biggest challenge is overcoming naysayers. There will be people who say your idea is bad, has already been done, or won’t work. There will be people who say that you’re crazy for taking a huge risk, leaving a steady job, and striking out on your own. There will be customers who complain about your product.
However, becoming a successful entrepreneur means learning from the most constructive criticisms and ignoring the least constructive ones. It takes more perseverance than we ever could have imagined.
#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs
Believe in your dream and remain optimistic.
All large companies were once startups. It is easy to get discouraged at the huge number of hurdles you have to cross in order to build a company. Building a team, getting office space, raising money, and creating a product that people want are all huge obstacles. Overcoming these obstacles is the most fun challenge you’ll ever have, but you must remain an optimistic, big thinker to fulfill your dream.
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