Zaarly - mobile auction - wireless startups - Fierce 15 2011

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Where it's based: San Francisco
When it was founded: 2011

Why it's Fierce: Zaarly is a smartphone app with big ambitions: To create new segment of the American economy.

Zaarly is basically a mixture of Craigslist and eBay with a little location-based service thrown into the mix. The company's app allows users (the buyers) to name something they want, the price they're willing to pay for it and how long the offer is available--for example, I'm willing to rent a lawnmower for an hour this afternoon for $10 because mine just crapped out. Other users (the sellers) can fire up their Zaarly app and see all the things around them that people want--for example, my neighbor with the new lawnmower can see that I need one. Thus, my neighbor makes an easy $10 and I get my lawn mowed (or I might just up that price to $30 and maybe my neighbor will mow my lawn too).

Such transactions are often difficult or impossible to conduct because buyers often need an item immediately and perfectly willing sellers simply don't know that. Cash transactions conducted through Zaarly are free, and the company plans to take a 10 percent commission on credit card transactions in order to make money. If the service takes off, even in a few locations, it could result in a significant Zaarly windfall.

Zaarly currently counts 10 full-time employees and recently raised $1 million in seed funding.

What's next: Zaarly plans to launch its service nationwide this month, an effort that will include an iOS app, an Android app and an HTML5 website that can work across other smartphone platforms and desktop computers.

Zaarly plans to focus its effort in a handful of select cities this year, including Boston, Los Angeles New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., in order to spark local demand.

But will it work? The company said it recently conducted a one-day trial of its service in Austin, Texas, and racked up $10,000 worth of transactions. A new economy, indeed.

Zaarly - mobile auction - wireless startups - Fierce 15 2011