The Marketplace Builder's Resource Guide

As an investor and marketplace geek, I am fascinated by how investors and operators think about building, evaluating, and measuring online marketplaces.

Of particular interest to me is how similar frameworks and concepts can be applied to otherwise dissimilar marketplaces across a variety of industries and markets. For example, a B2B logistics marketplace might employ some of the very same tactics to build liquidity as a C2C used clothing marketplace, despite the businesses having little else in common.

Below is a list of my favorite resources for marketplace builders, investors, and enthusiasts.

🏗 Marketplace foundations

The Ingredients for a Successful Marketplace Josh Breinlinger of Jackson Square Ventures identifies 5 key ingredients that go into building a successful, sustainable marketplace.

Lessons Learned Building Online Marketplaces Fabrice Grinda of FJ Labs highlights best practices and learnings from his own experience as a marketplace founder and shares his thoughts about where marketplaces are headed.

The Three Stages of Online Marketplaces Casey Winters details the stages of evolution he observes in successful marketplaces.

Four Questions Every Marketplace Startup Should Be Able to Answer Jonathan Golden of NEA looks at density, supply characteristics, incentives, and transaction frequency.

Online Marketplaces Jeff Jordan of A16Z argues that online marketplaces succeed in part be enabling "perfect competition."

🌊 Building liquidity

How Modern Marketplaces Like Uber and Airbnb Build Trust to Achieve Liquidity Anand Iyer, CEO of Trusted, explores how managed marketplaces leverage user trust and consistency of experience to build liquidity.

How the 100 largest marketplaces solved the chicken and egg problem Eli Chait of Co-Pilot and OpenTable details three strategies that marketplaces use to solve one of the biggest challenges facing new marketplaces: how to aggregate and build both supply and demand, and in what order,

Liquidity hacking: How to build a two-sided marketplace Josh Breinlinger address the "chicken and egg" problem, highlighting strategies to "hack" liquidity.

Uber’s virtuous cycle. Geographic density, hyperlocal marketplaces, and why drivers are key Andrew Chen of A16Z draws on his experience at Uber to illustrate how the rideshare platform developed a "virtuous cycle."

Marketplace liquidity Borja Moreno de los Rios of Merlin breaks down key inputs that go into building marketplace liquidity.

📈 Measuring success

All Markets Are Not Created Equal: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces (Bill Gurley)

Marketplace KPI Dashboard A downloadable marketplace KPI spreadsheet from VersionOne.

10 Marketplace KPIs That Matter Andrei Brasoveanu of Accel shares his thoughts on the 10 most important marketplace KPIs and how to measure them.

🛠 Tactical advice

TaskRabbit’s pioneering marketplace model & missed growth opportunities Reforge highlights some of the growth lessons from TaskRabbit shortly after its acquisition by IKEA.

Four Strategies to Win Big with Low Frequency Marketplaces Casey Winters details strategies that work for marketplaces whose users transact infrequently.

ClassPass’ Founder on How Marketplace Startups Can Achieve Product/Market Fit Payal Kadakia Pujji, ClassPass founder, writes about how some of her early non-scalable efforts at ClassPass helped her identify and achieve product/market fit.

Lessons Learned Scaling Airbnb 100X Jonathan Golden shares learnings from his time scaling Airbnb's home sharing marketplace.

🔮 The future of marketplaces

What’s next for marketplace startups? Reinventing the $10 trillion service economy, that’s what. Andrew Chen and Li Jin on A16Z present a thesis on how online marketplaces will reshape the giant, fragmented, and largely offline service sector.

The Evolution of Managed Marketplaces Anand Iyer explores how managed marketplaces deliver increased value to both the supply and demand sides of marketplaces, and looked ahead to how these types of marketplaces will continue to evolve.

The Next 10 Years Will Be About “Market-Networks" James Currier of NFX argues that the next evolution of winning online marketplaces will actually be what he calls "market networks", comprised of marketplaces for transactions, networks for identify, and workflow tools.

🎙 Podcasts

Requests For Startups: Marketplaces with Jonathan Swanson and John Kobs

Starting and Scaling Marketplaces with Eventbrite GM Brian Rothenberg and Casey Winters

a16z Podcast: What’s Next for Marketplace Startups (Hint: Services)