Zachary Cohn currently lives in Washington DC. When he travels, he does backflips. Zac loves teaching, whether it’s about parkour or startups. He’s started several meetups, a few companies, and many, many projects. His current goals are to do more writing on his blog and for books, do more speaking, start a few micro-businesses, and continue to build his library of animated gifs. He maintains his to-do list publicly for reasons.
Read “Jumping on Entrepreneurship,” Zac’s blog about startups, travel, and parkour.
Who is Zac Cohn?
He is currently a federal employee, working for 18F helping the federal government build and buy technology better. Previously, he was the founder at Wonful, which consults for enterprise companies and the State of Washington to teach them about customer development, lean startup, and other pre-Agile methodologies. He’s become a seasoned veteran of early stage product validation and customer development through similar work as a Partner at LIFFFT and while working for Startup Weekend at their headquarters in Seattle. When he’s not changing the world through entrepreneurship, he’s training parkour and doing backflips, traveling the world, and running Amazing Airfare, a notification service for ridiculous deals on airfare.
- Founder and CEO of Wonful. We consult with enterprise organizations and governments to teach them how to be more innovative, specifically in the “pre-Agile” stage of product development.
- Co-authoring a book: “Pre-Agile: How To Stop Building The Wrong Thing Really, Really Well.”
- Founder of AmazingAirfare. For $8/m, I will email and text you crazy deals on airfare – at least 50% or more off international flights.
Other Things He Does:
- Facilitating Startup Weekend events around the world. Current number of events facilitated: 11
- Vice-chair of the Board of Parkour Visions, the first parkour 501(c)3 non-profit, which runs a 10,000 square foot parkour gym in Seattle.
- Helping organize and run the speaker series Ignite Seattle. Average attendance: 700.
- Mentor to Angles Media and Ensavvi, two 9 Mile Labs companies, and a stealth startup founded by two University of Washington students.
Guest Posts and Public Speaking
- Wrote about Amazing Airfare on Medium, for Tom Bihn, and had a feature written about him on Mailchimp’s blog.
- Mailchimp wrote an article featuring me and Amazing Airfare on their blog.
- Wrote an article on Lyft and Uber’s political struggles for R Street, a public policy think tank, that got picked up by VentureBeat.
- Spoke at Ignite Seattle 23 to an audience of 700 people, about how to hack your way into social circles.
- Emcee and speaker at Geeks on a Beach: 2013 in Boracay, Philippines. Gave a 22 minute talk on Corporate Innovation and what corporations can learn from startups.
- Spoke at TEDx Seattle in June 2013 on “Parkour and the Art of Problem Solving.”
- Keynote speaker at StudentRND’s Summer Incubator DemoDay.
- Guest on the pilot of the TV show “Taste of the Future.” The topic was Wearable Technologies, and I was representing my experiences with my Google Glass.
- Panelist on Turnstone’s panel: “Millennials in the Workplace.” Related Bloomberg article.
- Guest on the Jason Rantz radio show on KIRO 97.3 discussing Lyft, The Taxi Industry, and Innovation.
- Guest on Jenni Hogan‘s podcast: The Next Big Thing.
- Hosted a class for the non-profit GiveGetWin on “Building Products People Actually Want,” and was interviewed by Sebastian Marshall.
- Geekwire’s featured “Geek of the Week.”
- Guest post on Geekwire about the Museum of Flight’s “Wings of Heroes” Gala.
- Did a live video interview of Don Dodge on Google Developers Live.
- Facilitated/emcee’d 11 Startup Weekend events: Seattle (twice), Louisville (twice), Iowa City, Madison, Atlanta, DC, Cebu, Davao, Syracuse.
- Geekwire featured me in their Tech Moves column when I joined LIFFFT.
What He’s Done:
- Worked with the State of Washington under the Office of the Chief Information Officer to train their Innovation Lab team on Customer Development, Lean Startup, Design Thinking, and other pre-Agile methodologies.
- Was flown out to Palestine to to spend a week mentoring startups at FastForward, the first startup accelerator in Ramallah, Palestine.
- Was flown to Chile to teach a digital innovation workshop at SaaS Generation, a SaaS focused Chilean startup accelerator. Media writeup (in Spanish).
- Partner at LIFFFT, where he consults with enterprise companies to help them adopt product development best practices from the startup world like Lean Startup, Customer Development, and Design Thinking.
- Running the Seattle Customer Development Meetup and teaching people interested in building products and companies about Steve Blank’s customer development, how to conduct customer interviews, and how to use the Business Model Canvas.
- Was in charge of “Hacker Relations” at Startup Weekend. He worked with Google to run pre-event bootcamps to teach people about cool platforms, APIs, and technologies they can use in their Startup Weekend projects.
- Piloted the Startup Weekend: Government vertical. These are Startup Weekend events that are focused on encouraging people to create startups that solve the problems of government or build on “open data.”
- Founded and organized the monthly Hacker News: Seattle Meetups. # events: 22. Avg attendance: 150. Sponsorship raised per event: $2000.
- Organized and taught a class on Customer Development at General Assembly on July 24th.
- Helped produce funny viral videos for LaughPong, Satire, and Gritty Reboots – comedy Youtube channels with over 35 million views.
- Produced The Day the Lolcats Died, a Youtube Video protesting the SOPA/PIPA bills. Our video got 700,000 views in the first week after launch, and in addition to the traditional tech media like Techcrunch, it was played on The Today Show and in between segments on NPR.
- Assisted in making We’re NASA And We Know It, a viral video parody of “I’m Sexy And I Know It” that broke 2 million views in the first week. It’s been played at Mission Control in Houston, at the Museum of Flight’s “Wings of Heroes” Gala, to open TEDx MidAtlantic, and on the International Space Station to hype up the astronauts before a spacewalk.
- Was invited to join Reddit’s Internet 2012 Bus Tour, which was touring the Midwest to promote Internet Freedom and document how important the internet was to startups, and even to brick and mortar businesses, in places outside of the typical startup hubs.
- Guest Trustee for The Awesome Foundation
- Organized The Seattle MetaMeetup, an event and private email list for event organizers to teach each other how to be better organizers.
- Created the Seattle Startup Map, a semi-open sourced map of all the startups in Seattle.
- Mentor at 9 Mile Labs, a B2B accelerator in the Seattle area.
- Started The Neverending Fast, a collaborative fasting and self-discovery project.
- Founded Rochester Parkour. He ran beginner workshops drawing over 100 people, attracted media coverage of our organization multiple times, and developed a sustainable, friendly, and positive parkour community.
- Ran the American Parkour web presence, including daily news posts, social media, forum moderation, Youtube contests, Google Ads strategy and execution. Was also the Editor in Chief of their monthly newsletter.
- At age 19, planned and took an 8 week, 21 city trip around the country to teach and spread parkour, and to learn more about other parkour communities.
- In High School he worked as a programmer for the National Security Agency doing [redacted] with [redacted] on the [redacted]. Was NOT involved with [redacted], [redacted] and definitely had no connection to [redacted]. No involvement with PRISM. I swear. Those guys were always jerks, anyway.
- Worked as the lead analyst for Parallels, Banyan Branch’s biggest client.
- Co-founded an Android gaming company called Happy Monster Games. Released a game called TrickyLeaks that lampooned Wikileaks, got coverage from some significant gaming blogs, and even got mentioned in a tweet from the official Wikileaks account!
- Graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree that combined two years of Computer Science with two years of business/marketing.
- Taekwondo Blackbelt. Tournament career: Undefeated, with 100% TKOs. (I mean… I only ever had one tournament fight. But hey… 1 and 0 is still undefeated!).