Marco Zappacosta has raised $400M for his marketplace startup that is unlocking the largest industry digital hasn’t fully solved yet.
If you think a billion dollars is big business, Zappacosta’s already successful business is still just at the beginning of revolutionizing the trillion-dollar-plus human services industry.
Marco and I got together for an exclusive episode of the Dealmakers Show. He shared what it’s like to grow up in Silicon Valley, doing the hard things, what you need to know about startup fundraising, and the benefits of following your passions, even if you never make a business out of it.
Born & Raised In The Valley
Zappacosta is one of the few real native Silicon Valleyians that you’ll ever meet.
He had the great fortune of being born to two entrepreneurs and software engineers. They showed him it was possible to be a tech entrepreneur. They demonstrated that even regular human beings can achieve impressive accomplishments. That gave him a lot of confidence and belief from an early age.
At dinners, there were no kids’ tables. Marco’s mother firmly believed the children should be present to the conversations the adults were having. So, high-level business and tech startups were just a part of everyday conversation in his home.
The one thing that he says really stuck with him was that his parents stuck with their companies for 20 years. He saw just how much you could accomplish when you dedicate yourself to something for a long period of time. An insight that certainly shaped him for building his own venture.
He believes the entrepreneurial journey shouldn’t be limited to a couple of years or betting on overnight success. To have an impact at scale is a long term game.
That’s in stark contrast to many of the entrepreneurs he’s seen a move to the valley and the type of people trying to get into the game in recent years. While valuable, the TechCrunch style hype out there has definitely drawn a different crowd with different expectations and aspirations.
Finding Your Cofounders
As with most teenagers, Zappacosta didn’t see himself going into the family business.
He liked science. He moved to NYC to attend Columbia and study neuroscience, with the anticipation of becoming a research scientist.
Then he spent a summer working in a real lab and discovered what that type of work and life was really like. It is extremely repetitive work, it’s very nano focused, and for someone entrepreneurial, it was deeply boring.
He still loves science and appreciates those that do the work. Though it was a moment of reflection and wake up call to what he really wanted to do and for life to be like.
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