A marketplace is a platform that connects a buyer and a seller, and it usually improves efficiency in communication and payment. Such a platform can facilitate buying and selling between companies and individuals (such as Alibaba), or it can facilitate buying and selling between individuals (such as Airbnb).
While the concept sounds simple, building a marketplace is much more difficult because you have to combine the interests of two groups of users (buyers and sellers) in one single product, instead of building just for one group of users.
To help you out, here are 10 must-read articles on how to build an online marketplace business.
1. All Markets Are Not Created Equal: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces
Written by Bill Gurley, General Partner at Benchmark Capital. Bill has invested in marketplaces such as OpenTable, Zillow, Uber, GrubHub, and NextDoor.
Widely regarded as the go-to article by many founders of marketplace businesses, this article helps you think about the kind of marketplace you should build for your target market.
2. Liquidity Hacking: How To Build A Two-Sided Marketplace
Written by Josh Breinlinger, Venture Partner at Sigma West. Josh was the 4th employee at oDesk and he has invested in marketplaces such as Contently and OfferUp.
Liquidity is the only thing that matters for a marketplace. This article teaches you how to hack it for your startup.
3. The Future of People Marketplaces
Written by Jeff Jordan, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Jeff is on the boards of Airbnb, Belly, Fab, Circle, Crowdtilt, Lookout, and Pinterest.
This article explores if you should design your marketplace to charge more in exchange for convenience, or charge less to provide value.
4. The New Curated Consumer Marketplace Model: 10 Criteria For Success
Written by Stephanie Tilenius, Executive-in-Residence at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Stephanie was the senior vice president of eBay North America and Global Product, as well as the general manager and vice president of PayPal Merchant Services.
Another important factor to consider is how curated it should be. Marketplaces like eBay allows anyone to post a listing while Uber heavily curates who can become a driver. What model will work for you?
5. How To Structure A Marketplace
Written by Simon Rothman, Partner at Greylock Partners. Simon has served as an advisor to many marketplaces and networks including Lyft, Wanelo, Poshmark, Tango, and others.
Apart from curating who can or cannot post on your marketplace, you need to decide how much work is to be done by your platform versus your users.
6. What I Learned About Online-To-Offline
Written by Justin Kan, Partner at YCombinator. Justin is the co-founder of Justin.tv, TwitchTV, and Exec. Exec was acquired by Handybook in 2014.
Before Justin pivoted Exec to focus only on house cleaning, Exec used to allow users to run all kinds of errands. This is a post-mortem on what the lessons he learned.
7. How Modern Marketplaces Like Uber And Airbnb Build Trust To Achieve Liquidity
Written by Anand Iyer, Head of Product at Threadflip.
This article explores how a marketplace can achieve liquidity by having a rating system, strong customer service, and carefully curated content.
8. How Do You Solve The Chicken And The Egg Problem For An Online Platform With Two Distinct Set Of Customers?
Written by Sangeet Paul Choudary, mentor at 500 Startups and the Founder Institute.
In this Quora answer, Sangeet explains the three different types of marketplace models and how to get started on each type.
9. Making A Marketplace: A Checklist For Online Disruption
Written by Nir Eyal, Startup Mentor and Author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.
Inspired by Bill Gurley’s article, Nir expands on the 10 factors for evaluation using examples of well-known marketplace companies.
10. Some Problems Are So Hard They Need To Be Solved Piece By Piece
Written by Chris Dixon, Partner at General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
Should a marketplace go broad by offering a large range of services/products, or dive deep in one specific category? This article offers a viewpoint on this matter.
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