Tate Hackert, Founder of ZayZoon

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1. What does ZayZoon do?

ZayZoon allows employees to responsibly access a portion of their paycheck before payday. It lets them forget about late bill payments and saves them from over draft fees.


2. What inspired you to start this? What problem are you solving?

Two million Canadians use high interest, egregious payday loans each and every year and we wanted to provide an alternative. With ZayZoon, we cost almost 90% less than the short term alternative and we never put our customers into debt. We believe that our customers work every day, so why should they have to wait two weeks to access their earned wages?


3. How long did it take you to go from prototype to launch?

It took a couple years for ZayZoon to find our fit in the market and to convince a few key early adopters to come on board. It took one year to prototype for a small beta launch. It took almost two years to refine our processes and to find a suitable partner for our integrated and automated offering. 


4. How did you determine who your audience might be for this product?

There is a ton of data on employee financial stress, Canadian debt levels and people who use high-cost short-term loan products. We sat on Google for hours sifting through research, which helped us refine our business model and hone in on our sales and marketing strategies. 



5. What are your greatest achievements so far?

The “simple” act of bringing the idea of ZayZoon to market. That first time an employee used ZayZoon to access their wages was extremely cool. Seeing everything automated allowed us to imagine doing hundreds of thousands of transactions a day and gave us a glimpse of having a very successful business.


6. What are your future goals for your company?

Right now we are focused on delivering a solid product offering to Canada and the United States. In the future, we would like to extend our reach beyond North America. Our vision is to provide a way for employees around the world to access their wages on a daily basis.  


Advice Corner

7. How has Startup Calgary helped you?

Startup Calgary has been amazing to ZayZoon. They have garnered us exposure in the Calgary Herald and Metro News. Startup Calgary has provided us with numerous opportunities to pitch ZayZoon and get constructive feedback from some of Calgary’s top entrepreneurs and advisors. Startup Calgary Launch Party resulted in a major investment in ZayZoon and a new addition to the team as well. 


8. How can companies make the most of their experience with Startup Calgary and Launch Party?

Startup Calgary and Launch Party do a great job of putting opportunities in front of you. Grab those opportunities. 


9. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to take their idea from the back of a napkin to the marketplace?

Bounce your idea off of as many people as you can. The idea that you have on a napkin is probably not the idea you will be going to market with. Talk to people in your industry, ask potential customers their thoughts on the idea. All of these interactions will help you improve your idea and give you the tools to bring your idea to market.


10. Who do you look up to in the Calgary startup community? Which companies are doing cool things?

Matt Mastracci and Patrick Lor are my startup crushes. They are both super cool individuals that always provide amazing conversation. For startup companies, I like MyStrengthBook, Gifty and ShareSmart.    


11. If you could do one thing differently while building your startup, what would you have done?

This is a difficult question because hindsight is 20/20. However, I always want to be more aggressive and move faster.


12. If you could tell the rest of the world something about Calgary, what would it be?

We have too much office space, a thriving and growing startup ecosystem, and the best mountains in the world less than an hour away. What is your company waiting for?

13. What was the biggest surprise you encountered building your startup? Could be obstacles or happy accidents. If so, what did you learn from these?

I was surprised of how much noise and media attention we received early on. It’s great to see how a new and novel idea can excite people. The attention you receive helps propel your business forward even more. 

14. If you had to tweet another start-up advice (140 characters or less) what would it be?

Follow Naval Ravikant (@Naval)

15. Could we share your website and social media handles with our community?


@ZayZoonTransfer on Twitter and Facebook.
ZayZoon. Transfer on Instagram. 

Published September 18, 2017