Welcome to The Early Days: A series that checks in with kickass Founders who share honest lessons, tips & tricks and a sneak peek into building their startup in public, from the ground up.
Building on Experience
Zach's Background 💼
I was born and raised in Hawaii on the eastern Island of O’ahu in a town called Kailua.
I remember making my first business cards as an 8-year-old — ”Zach Busekrus, LLC.”
I’d hand them out to people who bought lemonade from me on Saturday mornings at the street corner.
I had no clue what the hell “LLC” meant. But it made me feel like a badass.
In middle school, I started a nonprofit organization that focused on raising awareness about the Darfur Genocide.
It was a remarkable experience and the founders of eBay, Pam and Pierre Omidyar, got behind the organization and became a major donor of ours.
I left home early at the age of 16 — moved across the country to a suburb of Washington DC. where I finished high school.
I paid my way through college working at a coffee shop in the early mornings and as a marketing intern for a local agency for most of the day— I took a lot of night and online classes at George Mason University.
Today, I live in Washington D.C. and head up growth at the same agency I interned at nearly a decade ago by day, and am building a couple of my own start-ups by night.
Comment - "An 8-year-old opening up an LLC is the definition of an entrepreneur for life. There is no way this guy won't be successful."
Origin Story of Spontaneous 🏘
When COVID hit, my wife and I were living in a 700 square foot apartment in downtown Washington, D.C.
We both have demanding jobs and needed more space — you can only take so many Zoom calls from your bathroom before people start thinking your weird.
My wife is an attorney so she was able to pull some lawyer magic and get us out of our lease. We decided to Airbnb hop for as long as we could — we wound up being on the road for 15 months.
Along the way, we’d stumble upon these incredible deals on Airbnb.
We realized that if you waited to book until the last minute, or if you were willing to be flexible with your dates, you could save significantly on your nightly rate.
We began sharing these finds with some friends and family…before long randos we’re asking to get included on the text/email chain.
So, we decided we start a newsletter focused on bringing 150 of the best last-minute deals and upcoming steals to subscribers.
We threw up a Webflow landing page and within 24 hours Sam Parr from The Hustle (which sold to HubSpot) had seen it and shared it on his Twitter.
About a month later, he and Shaan talked about Sponstayneous on the My First Million podcast…they shit on the name (haha)...but our traffic and subscribers blew up after both mentions.
Today, we’re focused on growing Sponstayneous’ brand and offerings. We’ve got a brand new website launching later this fall along with a plethora of new newsletters.
We’ve recently launched our first couple of products for short-term rental hosts and just crossed the $1.5k in MRR threshold last month.
Comment - "I love how this escalates - self identifed problem, interesting solution, friends and family, "randos" catching on, big media attention, onwards!"
Zero To Point One Story 🎤
I love podcasting.
I founded a niche media startup called Enrollify as a subsidiary of a marketing agency about 2.5 years ago.
Enrollify has become a household name in the higher education marketing space and has 3x’d its revenue every year.
The primary vehicle for that growth was The Enrollify Podcast.
When thinking about growing Sponstayneous, I knew I had a lot to learn.
I listen to a lot of pods like MFM and How I Built This, but I wanted to connect and learn from folks who were earlier on in their entrepreneurial journey.
But I also wanted to make sure I was learning from folks who were IN THE GAME, not just thinking about getting into the game.
So, I riffed off of Peter Thiel’s Zero-to-One Framework and decided to start Zero to (point) One.
Zero to (point) One features a collection of Ideas that may go nowhere, or just might change the world…from people you’ve never heard of, who may just become household names.
Each guest featured on the show has MRR of $500 - $10k (no more and no less) or has 10k - 100k followers on Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter.
The show just crossed 500 downloads…so it’s still brand new! But I have already heard a couple of stories that make me excited about doubling down on it.
One of my guests was approached by an investor who referenced hearing their story on Zero to (point) One…another said he was invited to come on a much larger podcast after the host of the show heard him on my show!
Growing podcasts is hard! And monetizing it effectively can be even harder. That said, we’ve secured our first sponsor and am looking forward to working my butt off to get the stories of these incredible folks (most of whom I’ve met via Twitter or Kernal) in front of others.
Comment - "Awesome job building on your experience in a niche you are passionate about. Guest growth, MFM callouts, and sponorships are wins worth celebrating!"
What's next for you? 🌱
I am laser-focused on growing Sponstayneous and the Zero to (point) One podcast right now. Both of these projects have significant growth potential and I can’t wait to see where each is at in a year from now.
Closing Comments 💭
Hustling as an 8 year old, working his way through college, and building startups on the side of a full-time job is very inspiring. Using skills from one experience to simulataneosuly create another opportunity is a powerful growth hack. In the same way compounding interest leads to rapid growth, building from your current experience can too. Tying it all together may just be Zach's biggest strength. I am excited to follow along as Zach is clearly bound for success.
Do you have an idea that you're itching to share? Post here and watch your seeds grow into a forest. 🌲🌳🌲🌳
With nearly 10,000 members, 2,000 startup ideas and 200 MVPs, Kernal is an expanding community of founders, operators, and investors focused on validating and building pre-seed startup ideas. Post new ideas, browse startups with momentum, and get expert feedback to take the next steps of scaling your startup idea. This exclusive community is the most supportive place to be for builders at this stage in their journey. We welcome you to join here.