Running a company is more than a full-time job -- it’s an ocean of commitments you need to dive into. The same applies for running a peer-to-peer marketplace. It’s a business, like any other, except the model differs from the traditional one because there are buyers and sellers (vendors). There’s never been a better time to get on board in the sharing economy, so I’ve put together a guide to give you a head start.
Test out Your Idea
Before spending your time and money launching a product or service, do some research with your target market. Go to where they are and see if your idea is something they can get on board with. Cold email your target market, cold call them, go to coffee shops where they hang out. Tell them you’re working on something you believe will improve their lives and analyze the information gathered.
Consider a Co-Founder
Although here at Near Me we come across entrepreneurs who take on a business solo, it always helps to tackle this large, oftentimes alienating undertaking with an ally. Most of the startups in our neighborhood, for instance, are led by two passionate CEO’s focused on a mutual vision. Two heads are better than one, goes the saying and that is very true for a marketplace.
This is a very personal decision. Some entrepreneurs, even with a viable product that has met the market demand, will delay this phase and bootstrap to leverage inside investors and build a company from the ground up. You have more control over the decisions being made, so it can be the right path. It all depends on who you already have on board to help fund your projects and if you are a profitable company yet.
If you choose the VC route, have a clear business plan ready and know how to answer questions -- the last person they want to talk to is someone without a clear map of where they are going. And be open to change. As detailed as your business plan is, remember that things may change so keep that in mind.
Find Your Network
Here’s where it gets really exciting, and a little challenging in marketplaces. With B2C, you only have to think about making customers happy, but with peer-to-peer you need to find and keep your vendors happy. If you have a luxury handbag marketplace like my good friend, Sarira Sayad with Luxuca, it comes naturally as she has a large social media following, is a savvy business woman and is very involved in all aspects of her company’s day to day. She’s developed a relationship with individuals and manufacturers so she’s got the supply side down, and is growing her customer base through social media, a killer website and word of mouth.
Growing your network also means finding people who will wear many hats as running a startup is not profitable at the start.
- Hire interns -- you’ll be surprised how much they can bring to the table
- Don’t limit yourself by titles. Find people who can work across departments
- Network, network, network. It really is who you know and not what you know, so get out of the office and meet people!
The sharing economy is booming, estimated to reach $335 billion dollars by 2015 according to PWC. Part of that boom is entrepreneurs leaving traditional 9 to 5’s to launch marketplaces. Building a marketplace can seem extremely intimidating, especially if you don’t have IT knowledge -- but it doesn’t have to be. We have the engineers and designers to build a marketplace that is robust enough to handle multiple transactions simultaneously, yet sleek and customizable. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a marketplace. If you do your homework and commit to your vision, you can be the next peer-to-peer success story.
Have an idea but aren’t sure where to go with it? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for support.