It was 2 a.m. on Christmas Day last year, and Zachary Cohn was browsing travel sites in search of an airline ticket. His timing, it turned out, was impeccable, as Cohn discovered a round-trip flight from New York City to Johannesburg for a mere $270.
Within a few hours, the same fare was adjusted back to normal. Cohn’s friends demanded they be notified the next time he found such a sweet deal.
That’s when the lightbulb went off for the 26-year-old entrepreneur.
“I realized people really wanted to find out when these deals happen, and passively finding out on Facebook wasn’t fast or reliable enough,” Cohn said.
So, the Seattleite messaged five of his friends and told them he’d find them deals if they sent him $8 on PayPal.
“Within minutes, I had $40 in my PayPal account,” Cohn recalled.
Cohn, a former GeekWire Geek of the Week, scrapped together a workable front and back-end system in two hours using tools like WordPress, Lander, Formcrafts, Twilio, and Mailchimp.
Cohn said he’s already helped people book cheap flights to Rio de Janiero, South Africa, Iceland, Kuala Lumpur, Panama, and more. To find the deals, which are often more than 50 percent off normal prices, Cohn scours travel websites and various Twitter accounts. Once he’s found something worth passing along, users — who pay $8 per month — receive a text and email notification with details.
Just this week, Cohn helped his customers find a New York City to Dubai roundtrip ticket with a multi-day layover in Milan for $630, in addition to a New York City to Oslo roundtrip fare of $302.
Cohn’s day job is helping run Wonful.co and he calls Amazing Airfare a “fun side project.” He said he’d be happy with 500 subscribers.
“This is just a fun chance to do something consumer-facing and play with A/B testing, Facebook ads, marketing, and copywriting,” he said. “I can also help people go to crazy places and not break the bank in doing it.”