As a marketplace owner, you're probably struggling with the chicken and egg problem. When supply depends on demand, and vise versa, how does anything every catch fire? No one ever said growing a marketplace was easy... but yes my friends, there's light at the end of the tunnel.
1. Go Local
"An application with a thousand users is insignificant. An application with a thousand users in the same campus is the next big thing." - Ankur Nagpal
Introducing a locational constraint works as a powerful growth strategy by leveraging density. To understand this a bit better, let's take a look at everyone's favorite dating app.
Tinder founders hosted exclusive fraternity parties at USC and only let in singles who had downloaded the app.
They literally signed up hundreds of users overnight and demonstrated the power of their technology in the perfect setting. Not a bad strategy, coming from a college frat boy.
Experiment with a growth campaign targeted at achieving high penetration within a small group. The results may surprise you.
2. The Good ol’ Hijack-Fake-Scrape
This is when you can (legally) hijack someone else's traffic or platform to serve as one side of the market.
None did this better than Airbnb, who focused on posting apartment listings to Craigslist to catalyze their early growth.
"See if you can scrape one entire side of the market off the fantastic beast that is the Internet." - Ankur Nagpal
3. Do It Yourself
If you want it done right...
Here are the marketplace unicorns who used their own assets to source one side of their marketplace:
If these guys did it, you should probably take their lead. Are you a SneakerHead creating a marketplace to resell Jordans? It might be time to part with some of your kicks in order to seed supply.
"Spend your time and/or venture capital to BE one side of the market until you have happy users on the other side." - Ankur Nagpal
What are some of the growth strategies you've used to grow your marketplace? Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter.