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Zach Gosling Receives The 2010 NASE Future Entrepreneur Scholarship

Monday, September 13, 2010
By Jan Norman

Zachary Gosling was just 13 when he starting building an auction website that would be supported by advertising and sponsorships, rather than by the big fees charged by giant auction site eBay.

Within a year, the site, GozBay.com (pronounced Go Z-bay), garnered honors from the Future Business Leaders of America, an education association for high school kids that prepares students for careers in business and business-related fields. Zach’s site won second place nationally in the FBLA competition for e-commerce.

Two years later, in 2008, GozBay, which is run out of Zach’s bedroom in Denver, Pa., was getting as many as 5 million page views a month.

Then disaster.

Malicious hackers destroyed the site’s 78,000 auctions and physically damaged the server’s hard drives. Zach’s server administrator was able to save most of GozBay’s database.

“I knew that everything I worked relentlessly on over the past few years had just been stripped out of my hands,” Zach wrote of the experience on his personal website.

He decided to rebuild the auction site.

With the expertise and financial help of Chris Wilson, the owner of a nearby IT company, and four other professionals (a server administrator, computer programmer and two attorneys) GozBay relaunched in 2009. Today GozBay has hundreds of stores, tens of thousands of auctions and more than 400,000 page views a day.

While building and rebuilding GozBay, Zach also created websites for local companies, served as Pennsylvania state president of FBLA and maintained a 3.6 grade point average. He made time to participate in volunteer activities with organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. And last year he served as the online chair for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Zach’s creativity, hard work and perseverance contributed to his selection as the NASE Future Entrepreneur for 2010.

The scholarship program, which started in 1989 for dependents of NASE Members, awarded Zach up to $24,000 toward his college major in economics and finance. He will receive $12,000 in the first year and can renew the scholarship for $4,000 in each of the next three years by meeting academic standards.

The NASE Future Entrepreneur Scholarship is the largest scholarship of its kind in the U.S. and the only one that promotes the entrepreneurial philosophy.

“Zach embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that is thriving in young people across America,” says NASE President Robert Hughes. “The NASE is proud that this scholarship will help Zach with his dreams for the future.”

Computer Whiz

As early as age 5, Zach showed an aptitude for business and computers, says his father, Tom Gosling, an NASE Member who is chief executive officer of a credit union as well as owner of Onsite Computer Service.

At a young age, Zach started repairing computers and building custom units for customers through Onsite. By the time Zach was 8, he got his first eBay login. By 10 he had an eBay store and by 13, he was selling antique cars on eBay for a neighbor.

“I sold five cars for him—two to Europe—but eBay would take over 15 percent of each car in fees, so I started working on a concept to build a website where I could sell my stuff online without all the fees,” Zach says. “My idea was to offer an auction site that didn’t have any fees. That’s how it runs now, although we may need to add some fees in the future, but it will still be a low-fee alternative to eBay.”

One of GozBay’s main marketing strategies was to attract super sellers who would offer thousands of items for auction and bring their large customer bases, which would quickly grow the new site.

“The hardest thing was getting people to go to the site,” Zach says. “We had great timing because eBay had just raised fees and redone its feedback, which a lot of sellers didn’t like. We got a couple of power sellers to switch, and that created a chain reaction.”

FBLA advisor Kristi Ryland recognizes Zach’s penchant for business success.

“He is very knowledgeable in business and technology and exhibits strong leadership skills,” says Ryland. “He is very professional when it comes to his work and will stop at nothing to make sure his customers are satisfied.”

Even though Zach’s father operates a computer business and his mother, Lisa, is a computer programmer, Zach quickly outpaced their abilities to help with GozBay.

“There weren’t parents or friends who could help him because he was so far beyond any of our abilities,” Tom says. “We used to ask him why he liked to do this so much. It’s because Zach is a problem solver. He likes to figure out how to do things, and the Internet is unlimited. It has tools and resources to learn everything he wants to do.”

However, Zach never had any interest in computer games, his dad adds.

“We’d check his computer to make sure there was nothing bad on there, and all that was there was business.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

After the hacking destruction, and with significant encouragement from GozBay users, Zach started to rebuild the auction site with greater ability for unlimited growth and more security.

“We still haven’t rebuilt the volume we had before it crashed, but the six partners see that the investment opportunity is potentially huge,” he says.

Most of Zach’s friends have no idea how much time he works on GozBay and building websites for companies, his dad says. But Zach, who played varsity football for three years and had an active social life, would come home and work for hours afterward on the auction site.

“Everything I know about business I learned working on GozBay,” Zach says. “It’s all about the people you know and people who help you and you can help. It taught me that it’s not easy to start a business; it’s a lot of work and time.”

Zach says he knew even before GozBay that he would major in business with an emphasis on entrepreneurship, but his online experience reinforced that dream. He has chosen to enroll in the five-year business program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa., one of the nation’s best entrepreneurship colleges, according to rankings by Entrepreneur Magazine.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen after college,” Zach says, “but I definitely want to keep doing this. I love this stuff.”


Jan Norman is a frequent contributor to Self-Employed.

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