Design Disruptor: Marco Zappacosta, Thumbtack

Handy, man.

Marco Zappacosta, Thumbtack
Photographed by Maria del Rio for Lonny.

If there’s one site that’s changing the game when it comes to everything around your house — from wallpaper installation to interior services to handyman help — it’s Thumbtack. Founder Marco Zappacosta is setting out to make it an even playing field for all home professionals (and beyond!), and we have to admit that hanging art and furniture assembly have never been this seamless.

Give us the short story on you got your big break in the design space.

 "Thumbtack was founded in 2009 by three friends who set out to solve the biggest consumer problem they could find: Why is it still so hard to hire a plumber? Or a piano teacher? Or any local services?

"Fast forward to today, Thumbtack has begun to tackle this problem by connecting great local professionals to the customers interested in their services. We’re now helping over 250,000 professionals across the U.S. grow their businesses and millions of customers find, vet and hire professionals who are right for them.

"How does this impact the design space? Thumbtack has made it easier than ever to hire interior designers, home stagers, general contractors, wallpaper installers, and thousands of home improvement specialists, by giving customers and professionals tools to find and connect with one another. As a result, we've helped turned dreams and concepts into reality."

What does a typical day look like for you?

"On a typical day, I meet with team members to work on initiatives across the business, I meet with candidates to bring in more great people to work at Thumbtack, and I meet with external folks to gain insights into what is happening outside of Thumbtack and tell our story."

What’s been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on to date? 

"There are a lot of things we’ve accomplished here at Thumbtack that I’m proud of. But I’d have to say the work we’re doing right now has been the most rewarding. This year is going to be the most transformative year yet for us from both from a product and company standpoint. Can’t wait to share more soon."

What’s one thing about the design industry you’d like to change?

"As a designer, it takes a lot of time and talent to be successful. You need to be good at marketing to find clients and you need to do accounting to manage your income and expenses. When really, anyone who is talented should be able to offer their services. Thumbtack is starting to solve this issue, specifically with helping designers find more customers."

Do you have any pre-work rituals and if so, what are they?

 "I typically start my day with a 6 a.m. workout and a hearty breakfast with coffee before riding my bike into the office."


Marco Zappacosta, Thumbtack
Photographed by Maria del Rio for Lonny.

How would you describe what you do to someone who's never seen your site?

"We’re creating a one-stop shop to confidently and easily hire professionals. We’re on a mission to help people get things done. Whether it’s a customer looking for their next general contractor or a professional looking to find new business, we’re building a platform that people can trust and rely on."

Where do you go for inspiration?

"Stinson Beach. I love the scenic ocean and sandy beaches. The drive over from San Francisco is beautiful."

I think the most important aspect of a brand is authenticity.

In a space that’s so saturated and driven by trends, how do you make your work feel timeless and unique?

"I think the most important aspect of a brand is authenticity. If your brand is authentic, you can stand the test of time."

What other professions did you consider and why?

"When I first went to college I thought I wanted to be a research scientist, specifically a neuroscientist. But then I spent time in a lab and realized that I’m not cut out for it. After college, I briefly worked on a political advocacy nonprofit, which eventually led us to Thumbtack."

What advice do you have for people trying to enter the design space?

"Early on, we were too in the weeds and tried to accomplish too many things at once. As a result, it took longer to solve the core product problems we were facing. I’d urge people to focus on the one thing that matters most and solve that as well as you possibly can before moving on."

See the full list of Lonny’s design disruptors here.

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