Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call click here.

Marco Zappacosta is the co-founder and CEO at Thumbtack which is an online marketplace that connects millions of people with local professionals for their projects. The company has raised over $420 million from top tier investors such as Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, Draper Associate, and Javelin Venture Partners to name a few.

In this episode you will learn:

  • Rebuilding your plane while it’s flying
  • Tough decisions when building a generational business
  • Marco’s advice for going through a pivot or rebrand
  • Mastering the supply and demand in marketplaces


For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

About Marco Zappacosta:

Marco Zappacosta is the co-founder and CEO of Thumbtack, a service that connects customers who need something done with the right professionals.

Recognized by Forbes as one of 2015’s 30 under 30, Marco Zappacosta has been featured in stories in the New York TimesFortunethe Wall Street Journal, and CNBC, and Thumbtack was recently acknowledged as one of GlassDoor’s best places to work.

Marco Zappacosta started Thumbtack after graduating from Columbia University, where Marco Zappacosta majored in political science (after failing the last class of his neuroscience and behavior major).

Marco Zappacosta and his wife live in San Francisco.


Connect with Marco Zappacosta:

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Alejandro: Alrighty. Hello everyone, and welcome to the DealMakers show. Today we have a very interesting guest. I think that we’re going to be learning a lot about marketplaces and about building and scaling companies. So without further ado, Marco Zappacosta, welcome to the show today.

Marco Zappacosta: Alejandro, thanks for having me.

Alejandro: Originally, you grew up in the Bay Area, so how was life there?

Marco Zappacosta: Yeah. I’m a native-born, Silicon Valleyian. I have the good fortune of being the son of two software engineers and two entrepreneurs, which certainly helped shaped me probably more than I even appreciate because — and this is the thing I reflect most on: they showed me that it’s possible to be a technology entrepreneur. That was the dinnertime conversation; that is what they did their whole careers. So for me, it was this unique opportunity where I saw that up close. I think in many ways, my parents are the most impressive people I know, but at the same time, they’re still just human beings. So seeing people do it and go through it makes you believe that you can too. There’s an immense good fortune in that, and I feel very lucky. I’m happy also to be on the podcast and talk about my story so other people can see the same thing in themselves.

Alejandro: Very cool. What were the dinners like? Were you guys talking a lot about ideas and how to address complex problems?

Marco Zappacosta: I don’t know if this is where you want to take it, but my mom doesn’t believe in kid’s tables at dinner. She always thought that we should participate in the conversation that the adults wanted to have. Often, that would be about their work, so we would be there, we would listen, and maybe we’d ask questions. Sometimes, obviously, you’d be bored and want to get out of there too, but they had the view that it was something we should all participate in. I heard about all sorts of stuff, probably more than I even remember explicitly.

Alejandro: It’s interesting the way that you put it that you are a Silicon Valleyian. You don’t come across a lot of Silicon Valleyians, so I’m wondering how you have seen the ecosystem shape up over time?

Marco Zappacosta: I think there’s one big thing that is unfortunate that has happened. Reflecting on my parent’s stories, they worked at their respective companies for 20 years each. What that highlights is how much you can accomplish in two decades. I always had that perspective of this entrepreneurial journey is not one that happens overnight or even in a year or two. It’s something that plays out, has real impact and real scale over the course of decades. I think, unfortunately, because of these sorts of narratives that emerge around these companies that are always trying to be compressed — TechCrunch writing about the new hot thing that just emerged and exploded out of nowhere. I think people have a false impression of how long it takes. That missteps people’s expectations and probably attracts the wrong types of people to the journey. That is one big thing that I saw up close is that I have as sort of a default, and it’s not as common, and it’s deeply unfortunate for people.

Alejandro: Very interesting. Being there and being exposed to this environment, why did you decide to come to New York City?

Marco Zappacosta: Actually, I didn’t think I wanted to be an entrepreneur. That was not something that I grew up thinking about or focusing on. I thought I was going to be a research scientist. So I went to Columbia because they have a strong neuroscience program, and I jumped in, started taking classes, and I loved it. I loved the study of it. But then I spent a summer in a lab, and I realized that was deeply boring and not something I was going to be able to do. I’m glad people do it. The world needs them, but it just did not fit me. It was too micro, almost nano in focus. It was extremely repetitive, and really, it’s not about ideas. It’s about methodical execution of a very deliberate plan. It wasn’t exciting me. So I had this — crisis is too strong of a word, but a moment of reflection where I realized this dream that I had for myself was wrong and was not something that was great. So I continued to study because I still found it fascinating, but I knew quickly that I did not want to live that life. Then it set off a random exploration of various things that I got excited about. One of which, which is particularly random, was Social Security Reform — pension reform. I got so randomly passionate about it that I wrote a couple of op-eds for my student newspaper. This is relevant because that’s how I met my future co-founders. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my future co-founder was similarly and surprisingly passionate about Social Security Reform, arguably even more than me because he’d dropped out of college for a semester to start an organization focused on advocating for reform. I got connected to him through these op-eds that I had written. Then I ended up spending a semester, as well, taking off from college and working on this thing. It was this experience that showed me how fun it was to build something out of nothing, to rally people around a shared dream, and to go — to make something out of nothing. Obviously, people know that debate fizzled out and nothing happened, which taught us that we did not want to operate in politics because it provided very little agency. But we did love the idea of building and creating. So we took that opportunity to step back and say, “How can we have a similar, largescale impact and build but have more agency and have more control over our path?” This is where my background came into play in knowing that it was a viable path. I encouraged us to go down this technology startup path, and here we are. I tend to think that pursuing your passions is actually not always great advice. People’s passions can be kind of dumb or not relevant to the world, but one good thing that comes from pursuing your passions, you tend to actually meet other passionate people. Those are special, and finding other passionate people, particularly ones who share similar passions, and so there’s a natural affinity, can be an incredible way to make connections that then sprout totally new and surprising paths forward. That certainly happened with me. So indulge your passions; indulge your curiosities, knowing that they may not lead to anything, but they may lead you to people that spark something new and even better.

Alejandro: Talking about leading to people that spark something new and something even better and especially talking about ideas and sharing a dream, how did the idea of Thumbtack start to become more tangible and something that made sense to go after?

Marco Zappacosta: We kind of did what you’re not supposed to do and decided to start a company and then go hunt for an idea. I think this gets unnecessarily short-changed as a path to building companies. Microsoft famously did this. Amazon famously did this. There are incredible examples of it. What we did, at the time, was save ourselves something simple and wonder what was broken that would be inevitably fixed by technology? Then we started talking. We spent a summer living with my future co-founder so that we could brainstorm more. The insight that led to Thumbtack or the observation was rather simple. Why is it so hard to hire a plumber? Here you were in the mid-to-late 2000s when Amazon had emerged. E-commerce was making it easy to buy things. Google made it incredibly easy to find information, and yet, you still had to work hard to spend money to hire a pro. That’s like antithetical to capitalism. All this capitalism is about making it easy for you to spend money to get what you want. Here was a category that was hard. It wasn’t hard because the supply wasn’t there. There were hundreds of thousands, millions of great pros out there excited and willing to do these jobs. It was a matchmaking problem. It was a discovery problem. The more we looked at that, the more we felt like, “Wow. Not only is this bound to be fixed by technology, but it deserves to be fixed by technology. There is so much latent human potential that is going unrealized that we can improve upon if we find the way to crack this. So from the beginning, we’ve had the same dream, that we’re chasing today, to radically change the process through which customers and professionals come together, and that is still what we’re working hard today and aren’t done. We think there’s still so much more to do, but we’re further than we ever thought we could be and still not even one step towards where we would like to be over time.

Alejandro: Very cool. Obviously, you identified this problem, but I’m curious about how was that brainstorming process like until you got to “This is an actual really interesting and big problem”? What was that process until you go there?

Marco Zappacosta: Truth be told, Thumbtack was actually our second idea. This now takes you back to the summer of 2007. What we had begun to brainstorm and get excited about was a tool to help you analyze your spending, track your budgets, keep track of your finances. And if it sounds a lot like Mint, it was exactly like Mint. We got so far as to talk to Yodlee, the backend provider for these financial integrations at the time, and started to talk to investors about this idea. We had written up a pitch for it. Then in September or October 2007, that TechCrunch (or whatever it was called), Mint launches. It was awesome. They did a great job. They raised money, and it was this incredibly bittersweet moment because, on one hand, we were like, “We’re not going to catch these guys. They did it, and they did it well.” But the flip side is that it was very encouraging and ultimately confidence-inducing when we realized, “You know what? We were right. We were a bit slow here; we were a little behind, but we were right.” We had a lot of people tell us we were not right. I remember my brother saying, “I love you, and I’m not going to give you my bank passwords. So why do you think some random stranger’s going to give you their bank passwords?” Which was totally valid feedback and the default position of most people. And our view was like if you create enough value and if you brand it in the right way, and you communicate how seriously you take the whole trust angle, we think you can. And Mint showed that that was true. That built our confidence to continue chasing ideas and to keep going. We obviously, sulked for a bit and were sad about it, but after a couple of weeks, we got back on the horse, and Thumbtack was the second idea. I’m thankful for that because it did come back as a bigger and better idea. 

Alejandro: Very nice. Then how did you go about validating the idea?

Marco Zappacosta: That’s something where we quickly believed there was a problem that needed solving. You can talk to any busy homeowner, any busy mom, any busy adult, and they would tell you, “Yeah. I’ve got a to-do list that never gets done because this process is such a pain, and even when I find somebody, I’m never sure if I found the right person.” It took only a dozen phone calls and a dozen conversations to quickly be like, “Okay. We’re right. There’s clearly a problem here.” What took longer to get confidence is like, is there an edge? Is there a way for us to get in that is unique and differentiated? Here, what we started to do was study everybody who was doing it online at the time. What we came to believe was everything that existed at the time — now we’re talking 2008 and into 2009 — was an online version of an offline product specifically classifieds or directories. By virtue of being online, those products were better than their offline counterparts, but still, they had the same limitations that those products had. Weirdly, they were not reimagined for the digitally-native world that we were now operating in. Classifieds still had this ephemeral, like the only existed for a few days, and then the stream expired, meaning that these pros could never build a reputation and a profile that’s permanent where they could accrue trust, so they were forced to compete on price. In directories, the burden on the customer was always the same where it was easier to find names and numbers, but then at the end of the day, you still have to call down that list and ask the same questions over and over to figure out who’s available, who’s qualified, who’s interested, how much is it going to cost? It made it better, but it had not actually fixed anything. So that then gave us the confidence to go for it and to try and make it happen because we looked around and we were like, “This is big. It’s bound to get fixed, and nobody seems to be doing it in a way that feels at all likely to be that dominant category-killing offering.” That was enough for us to take the leap. 

Alejandro: So then, what happened next?

Marco Zappacosta: The best way to describe it is there was a period of a couple of years of feeling around a dark room to find the light switch. One piece of context that’s useful is Thumbtack started two weeks before Lehman Brothers went out of business, August 1, 2008. Then, we were just another guy and me. We’re watching the financial world collapse. Our reaction was like, “Well, we’re probably not going to get jobs anywhere else, so we might as well keep working on this and hunker down.” That, in some ways, was deeply fortunate because it took a lot of the pressure of finding the solution instantly and rocket shipping it. We could be super frugal, and do a lot of customer development in thinking and learning to try and figure out how we could do this better? What we hit upon was a request for quote model in realizing that we could remove a lot of the pain out of the customer experience, but having them, instead of reaching out to pros individually, asking the same questions, we could take what they were looking for — the project details — and go out to our network of pros and ask them and do the annoying work of reaching out and connecting with them. We could do it programmatically. Then the ones that were truly interested and available and qualified could then come back and send that customer a quote. For both sides, this was a material improvement to the alternative because there was less guesswork. They could both get what they wanted faster. We hit upon that, and we felt that it was better than the alternatives at the time. Then the real challenge became scaling it: figuring out a way to solve the chicken and the egg problem, which all marketplaces have. That was much more the focus driving distribution than anything else for a long time.

Alejandro: Yeah, because the supply and the demand, the challenge is real, and when you’re building a marketplace, it’s like launching two companies at the same time. So, Marco, as you were building the marketplace and the supply and demand, obviously you were getting all these people. You were sending messages to these people to create profiles at Thumbtack. At what point did you start to feel like perhaps you guys had found the switch in the room?

Marco Zappacosta: The fundraising trajectory was summer of ’09 we raised friends and family money. Then the summer of 2010, we raised angel money. The angels that we raised from — all these great Silicon Valley angels had very consistent advice for us, which is, “Focus on the chicken and the egg problem. Distribution is the biggest challenge in marketplaces. Be laser-focused on that.” And we did. So through 2010 and into 2011, we made a tone of progress on that. It felt really good. Then we went out to raise our Series A in the summer/fall of ’11 and really struggled. Despite having shown more traction in building up our marketplace than anybody else had in the category, the feedback we got consistently was, “Yeah. Okay, great, cool. But how are you going to monetize?” At the time, we weren’t focused on it. This was a big lesson learned, which was when you’re thinking about your priorities, it’s not simply a matter of understanding what the previous investors are smartly encouraging you to do. It’s also understanding what future investors want you to go do. We hadn’t appreciated that for your Series A. In many ways, it’s your first growth round. It actually mattered less, proving out the marketplace-building and liquidity-building mechanics that we had further and further. What mattered more was beginning to show the unique economic story that we could monetize these interactions and these connections more effectively or at all. That was pretty brutal because we just hadn’t focused on it. So, here we were, the fall of ’11, feeling great about the progress we’d made, saying, “We did everything we were supposed to do,” and then being told by 40 investors in a row, “Yeah, but that’s not enough. We want to see this other thing.” We had to scramble last minute and put in place a monetization model, which was highly imperfect, but showed that we could monetize this. We got a couple of investors to lean-in because of that. Javelin, which led the A, gets a ton of credit because what they saw was the team and the team’s approach much more than the specific unit numbers that we were showing them. They said, “Wow. You heard this feedback, you jumped on it, and in two months, you’ve put this in place. Now, you’re showing this kind of traction. That makes us believe that you guys will tackle future challenges.” One thing that people don’t appreciate is that most investors have very little conviction and very little independent-mindedness. I’m thankful for what Javelin saw early on and the confidence that had to say, “Yeah. These are entrepreneurs we want to back.” That then closed in January ’12. At that point, we continued to scale the model for maybe three, four, five more months. Then we realized we were not on the right path from a monetization standpoint. We had to change from a subscription model, where we were at the time to a marginal pricing model where pros paid to send quotes. That’s something that we put in place over the rest of 2012. April ’13 was the first month that we had fully rolled it out. With that data, we then went back to a lot of the investors who passed on us in the Series A, and said, “Look. You were right about us not having proven at the time. You were wrong that we wouldn’t be able to. Here’s the proof.” Sequoia, to their great credit, jumped on it. They saw that we had, indeed, cracked it, and they ended up leading our B in May of 2013. Really, they did about six weeks of data, and they did not make us prove it in 15 different ways. They saw it, and again, they saw the team’s gumption and dedication come through. They leaned in, and they did the round. From there, it set off a period of scaling and growth from ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17 the business scaled tremendously. That comes with all the operational realities, building a leadership team for the first time, scaling every company process. That was fun and also very hard. That was the second chapter. If the first chapter was feeling out for that light switch in the dark, the second chapter, which started in 2012, 2013 was all about scaling rapidly. That took us through ’17. Then the last chapter, which I think we’ve just concluded, we ended up rebuilding the whole marketplace once again.

Alejandro: Walk us through that chapter. Why did you guys decide to rebuild the marketplace again?

Marco Zappacosta: This goes back to the original vision. We want to be the best place for customers to find and hire pros for whatever they need done. The core of that comes from reliability and consistency. The challenge was, we had a model, the request for quote model that had too much inconsistency because of the effort that it asked of pros to read, review, and respond each and every time a customer request came in. You could almost think about it. We had a search engine that had humans in the backend which obviously made it slow, which alone was frustrating because, at that point, everybody on the internet expects things to happen instantly. But even worse, because it mediated through human beings, those humans get tired, or sometimes, they’re driving their cars, or they are working on a side of a house up on a ladder, and they can’t respond. That meant that our customers got fewer options, which meant that they hired fewer pros, which meant that our pros made less money and grew their business less than they wanted to. It sapped the energy from our marketplace. Despite it being better than the alternative, I think it’s the best way to find and hire pros on the internet. It was not good enough to be the category-killer to be that Amazon for services that worked so well, so reliably each and every time that you come for it as a habit. So we were in this position where we had a pretty big business, but it wasn’t on track to be a generational business. We had a choice, which was you accept your reality and play it out and do with it what you can. I’m sure we could have continued to scale it to hundreds of millions and maybe even low billions of revenue. But it would never have built the brand that would have been necessary to become the Amazon, the default in the space. That’s what we wanted to do. So we put to ourselves, “How can we get out of this?” We realized that at the core was the model. We’d worked very hard over time to improve the matching, improve the tooling for pros, improve the pricing to make it more dynamic, but all those things made marginal, positive improvements, but none of them added a zero in terms of order of magnitude of the amount of supply we were getting out of our pros. So we said, “Can we automate this? We don’t want to be just a list of names and numbers. Google is that. Yelp is that. They’re very good at it. We’re never going to beat them at that, and honestly, it’s a bad experience anyway. So we don’t want to do that. But how do we retain the intent-fulness that today comes through this human-generated quote when doing it programmatically? This set the stage for the last two and a half years of work where we set out to automate the entire vetting an responding on behalf of pros such that instead of them doing it manually, they would give us their targeting preferences on which customers they wanted, where they would travel, when they work, what they charge, and then we could use that to generate search results that were true options that gave customers insight into which pro was right for them and a pro that was available and that had a price that met their budget. There were two enormous challenges in that. The first was simply understanding these categories deeply enough such that you could automate it. We cover 500 different occupations, every type of home, service pros, event pros, wellness. For each category, you have to go in and say, for a carpet cleaner, they need to know how many square feet or how many bedrooms that they need to clean? Are there pets? What types of stains? Are there stairs? All the things necessary to figure out whether they could do that job, whether they wanted to do that job, and how much they charge for it. Then multiply that by 500 because you have to do that individually for carpet cleaners, window washers, carpenters, electricians, and on and on. So, as you can imagine, that’s a fair bit of work. That actually wasn’t even the hard part. That was just a lot of work, but apply enough smart people to a hard problem, they can make a lot of progress. The one that was really hard was this changed how our pros interfaced with us. They had to give up a lot of control and through that trust-us a lot more because we changed the business model, as well. Historically, pros had total discretion over which quotes they were paying for, and reading and reviewing these responses, and through that, they had total discretion. If they wanted it, great; they paid for it. If they didn’t, fine. If they didn’t even look at their phone, there was no expense to them to a model where, after they told us their targeting preferences, they were automatically charged for anybody who contacted them. That is a big, big change. You can imagine. We had a quarter-million active businesses on the platform.

Read More: Charlie Bachtell On Building A $600 Million Cannabis Business With 1,800 Employees

Alejandro: Yeah.

Marco Zappacosta: Changing that relationship was excruciatingly hard. It was a) change and change alone is hard, but b) it required a lot more trust, and it required them to give up something that was working well for them. They didn’t understand why we were changing it. They would say, “This is working great for me. What are you doing?” It’s like, “Well, but for customers, it’s inconsistent.” They would be like, “Well, I don’t care. I don’t need it to be consistent for them. I just need to pay for the jobs I want.” Through this transition, it truly changed everything. We changed the pro experience. We changed the entire customer experience. We changed the business model, and through that, we changed every pricing model, spam model, the financial model, the data models underneath it all, the infrastructure to support it. We basically rebuilt ourselves over the last two and a half years. Now, I can say it was worth it; it was right, and it worked. But there were certainly moments in there where it was not obvious. 

Alejandro: Yeah, and I’m sure that it was scary, too, because you guys were already operating at a certain scale that changes of this nature, they’re like make it or break it type of thing. We’ve seen that with big companies, for example, Digg, when they did their rebrand. It was a complete disaster. It’s nerve-wracking.

Marco Zappacosta: That’s right. We bet the company and lots of lessons learned through that all.

Alejandro: Marco, what was your biggest lesson? Let’s talk about that — your biggest lesson from going through this nerve-wracking chapter or phase.

Marco Zappacosta: I think what I would have done differently is try to set expectations better upfront to the team, to myself, to the leadership team about how hard what we were trying to do would be. I’ll admit, part of me wonders if we actually would have done it if we’d truly known. There’s some benefit to being ignorant, but that quip that happiness is expectations minus reality is very real. So when you expect things to be, “This will take us 6 months or 12 months.” And then it takes 24 or 30, that’s a big blow. I wish I had internalized a bit more what we were really saying what we were trying to do and hard that would be, and then been honest with people saying, “Look. This is going to be hard. We’re trying to rebuild the airplane while it’s still flying, while not losing any altitude such that we can set ourselves up for another 100x of growth. We don’t know how we’re going to do it. We’re certainly going to find that it’s harder than we think it’s going to be. There are going to be moments where we all believe that it won’t work, and we’re going to begin to lose faith. And yet, if we pull through, it will be the single, most satisfying professional experience that we may ever have had up until this point. So if you’re excited about that, sign up. If you’re not, here’s a happy handshake and take care.” But by not being that blunt and that crisp upfront, you’re in this constant battle to try and articulate where you are, where you want to be, what’s next, what success looks like, and that’s tough. It’s really tough. 

Alejandro: I hear you. For the folks that are listening to get a better idea on perhaps how big you guys are today, can you tell us perhaps how much capital you guys have raised and the number of employees that you guys have?

Marco Zappacosta: Sure. We’ve raised 400 million dollars from Sequoia, Tiger, Google, Baillie Gifford, and Javelin. We are something around 800 to 900 employees across three offices. San Francisco is where we have all of our product development and marketing teams. Salt Lake City is where we have go to market and our success teams. Then we have a team in the Philippians that does a lot of marketplace operations. The business does a billion+ in GMV across all of our categories. We’re proud of the scale, but honestly, the thing that gets me most excited about is, we’re still a zero around or in relative to the opportunity. We feel like we have as much growth in front of us as we’ve had behind us. Now, with this new model, I’m certain that we can deliver an experience that is radically better than anybody else. What we see is, it’s going to build us into that go-to brand.

Alejandro: Yeah, and the people, the investors, and founders, always talk about tackling big markets. This is a massive market. So how big is this market?

Marco Zappacosta: There’s something like a trillion dollars in spend in the United States alone on local services covering all these different categories. The biggest single category is home services, which is everything from home maintenance to fix your dishwasher to a plumber to fix your heater to a roofer to a general contractor. That trillion dollars doesn’t count B2B spend. It doesn’t count your insurance claim for your home warranty to get something fixed, so there’s even more spend on top of it. There’s probably something on the order of 20 million Americans who make their living as a service company in these categories, so it represents something like one in seven, one in eight of all working Americans who do this type of work. Yet, it is effectively still completely analog.

Alejandro: Wow. That’s unbelievable, the numbers.

Marco Zappacosta: Yeah. The way I encourage people to think about it is, the sharing economy is still in the early days. What has happened so far is the winners to date have all been companies that have liberated these underutilized physical assets, homes, and cars to immense consumer benefit and supplier benefit, as well. It’s just incredible what has happened very, very quickly. But that, actually, is not the biggest asset. The biggest asset is human talent. The skill and knowledge that it has to provide unique services that are non-commodified, that are hard to trade. That human talent represents the biggest unlocked market opportunity from a digital commerce perspective. It’s something that I think we’re still early on, but in five or ten years, people will look back and realize that it was actually even bigger than the early players in the sharing economy. I think all that is just getting started.

Alejandro: Yeah. That’s definitely exciting. Marco, now, there’s one question that I always ask guests that come on the show, and that is if you had the time to have a chat with your younger self, perhaps that younger Marco that was brainstorming about what would be that next idea. Then finally, you got this idea, and you were thinking about launching the business. Knowing what you know now, what would be that one piece of business advice that you would give to yourself and why before launching Thumbtack?

Marco Zappacosta: I think the lesson that we keep learning is the power of focus. You get smart people together; they often get enamored with their smart ideas. But the reality is, the best ideas are usually very simple, and the very best ideas are dramatically more important, more valuable, more worthwhile chasing than good to great ideas. What I mean more specifically is, I think early on, we didn’t fully appreciate exactly what the problem was that we were solving. We had this grand vision of digitizing this whole experience, so early on we had scheduling, payments, and these bells and whistles from the get-go, which I think are part of our long-term roadmap, but that missed the deep insight that what matters at the end of the day, and what is most broken is the match, is bringing these two sides together and everything else is in service to that. Had we looked at our plans and realized, “This is complicated. There’s a lot of stuff here. Do we really believe we have to do all this to be successful?” I would love to tell myself that because I think what we would have done is gone back and talked to more customers and said, “You know what? The thing that comes up over and over is how hard it is to find and trust that you’ve connected with the right person. That should be our singular and obsessive focus. In as much as we can do other things to enable that, great. But nothing else matters. So just focus even more.” We would have gone faster, and we would have made even more progress—we’d be bigger even right now. That’s something I keep trying to do.

Alejandro: I hear you. Very, very powerful, Marco. So for the folks that are listening, what is the best way for them to reach out and say hi?

Marco Zappacosta: I’m easy to get a hold of. I’m on Twitter. My handle is #mlz – so send me a message, and we can chat and go from there.

Alejandro: Fantastic. Marco, thank you so much for being on the DealMakers show today.

Marco Zappacosta: Thank you for having me.


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