How to build a Marketplace Business – #marketplace #001

How to build a Marketplace Business – #marketplace #001

I’m constantly seeing new and exciting marketplace businesses pop up. In all niches. Legal, design, real estate, travel, the list goes on. A lot of the new, hopeful startups are positioned as “The next Uber of…”. That’s great but there’s no question that building a marketplace is hard work. When I think back on when I first started building marketplaces I remember all the obstacles and questions I had.

Where do you start first?

How do you gain traction?

Do you focus on the consumers or suppliers first?

With that being said, I’ve been thinking of sharing what I’ve learned along the way. I wanted to share my experience in building marketplaces. For one, anyone looking to start down this path I’m sure would have loved this content. Secondly, I’m finding as I write my thoughts down, I’m finding new inspiration and clarity in what I’m working on.

The good and the bad of Marketplaces.

The bad. There’s a reason why most marketplace ideas never take off.  It takes patience, timing, a good platform and creative thinking. You have to build trust in two audiences and you ultimately serve two masters.

The good. There’s also a reason once they reach a critical point they are hard to break down. It’s an entire ecosystem that doesn’t just crumble over night. Look at one of the first – Craigslist. It’s atrocious to look at but there’s an ecosystem there that’s living and breathing.

Why listen to me?

If I’m being honest, I’m a jack of all trades and master at none. From design, front end dev, marketing, conversion testing, product management, etc. I have a tendency to want to execute on all fronts so I’m never slowed down. With that being said, this series isn’t meant to show you how to literally build the tech for starting a marketplace. Or how this design layout is going to triple your business overnight. It’s just not that easy. I’m going to share real examples, trial and error and experiences I had whilst building a marketplace business.

When it comes to marketplaces though, I have found a way make my own luck and I would say I’ve been successful in my attempts with start-ups and new ventures without raising millions in VC money. For the last 10+ years of my professional life, I’ve built (with a team) several marketplace businesses, including MOJO Marketplace, which today boasts over 5 million users. The two I have built were both acquired. Plus, this is free advice so if you don’t like it, I get it.

I’m going to talk about a few key things in this series that could increase your chances of having a successful marketplace.

Marketplace building series…

This will be an ongoing series but I’ll keep an update list of the series below to summarize the series.

  • What platform to build on top of?
  • Chicken or the Egg
  • Defining your MVP for launch
  • Features vs Value
  • 6 ways to create quick traction with your marketplace
  • And more…


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