Give Marquette

Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Management Award Recipients

Young Alumnus of the Year Award

Washington, D.C.

Growing up in Nebraska, Eric admired his father’s insatiable curiosity and creative problem-solving. “I grew up in a home where I was encouraged not only to dream, but to build that tree fort or that bicycle ramp or that costume,” he says. “My dad was my first exposure to the joys and challenges of starting your own business — and taught me that hard work, genuine interest in people and a willingness to try things is the best combination of entrepreneurial DNA around.”

Those traits have served Eric well. A serial entrepreneur, he founded Zaarly, an online marketplace that USA Today described as “a startup blending the best bits of Foursquare and eBay.” It made Fast Company’s list of “Fifty Most Innovative Companies” and has attracted investors such as Kleiner Perkins, Ashton Kutcher, Meg Whitman, SV Angel, Marc Ecko and others. Before he caught the entrepreneurial bug, Eric worked as an attorney and CPA.

“I love being an entrepreneur — it’s a job that pushes your brain to the max as you try and create something from scratch,” he says. “It’s so much more rewarding than any ‘real job’ I’ve ever had.”

Eric came to Marquette planning to become a doctor. But his experiences in student government, Greek life and intramurals soon taught him how much he loved to lead and work with a team to accomplish a goal. “Marquette was the perfect place for me to learn where I could make the biggest difference,” he says.

An adjunct business professor at Georgetown University, Eric also serves on the board of directors of Startup Weekend and is passionate about mentoring other “want-rapreneurs,” as he calls them.

Get to Know: Eric A. Koester

Hometown: Omaha, Neb.

Favorite book: Collapse by Jared Diamond

Someone past or present he’d like to have dinner with: Leonardo DaVinci

Favorite Marquette memory: Being involved with student government leadership, including MUSG president his senior year.

In grade school Eric wanted to be a priest and then a little later a doctor.