I am super in love with NFX (nfx.com) because with only one article, they helped me mentally define what I have been trying to build with my startup: a market network.
There are marketplaces where people buy and sell (think eBay or Airbnb where buyers and sellers are two distinct categories), there are social networks (usually revolving around keeping our networks up to date on either our professional lives (LinkedIn) or our personal lives (Facebook), and then there are market networks (like F6s or Honeybook) where the whole thing revolves around taking action together in order to accomplish something.
We want to combine all three with MyPeopleNow. Why? Because it doesn’t exist yet with regards to the combination of long-tail services and social good and we really feel that it should.
So in reading over an article that NFX put out (link at the bottom), I discovered our first fatal flaw so far. I want to do something different with my blog and write about (in “real time”) the problems our startup is facing, what we are learning about why we have those problems, and then go over potential solutions as I record my attempts to implement those solutions.
I have already come to determine that even if not a single soul were to read this “in real time,” it would be meaningful for me to document how this startup sh*t really goes down so that I can reflect on it someday and possibly even help someone else avoid the same pitfalls.
So what is our first fatal flaw? According to the article, it’s economic advantage.
In building out our MVP with virtually no resources, we had to open our scope very wide to test what people actually wanted to do with what we were offering. We didn’t want to limit people to one type of service so we allowed people to post anything – from tarot readings via video chat to writing and mailing greetings cards. In doing so, we created a marketplace where only a small fraction of the services on our site are truly unique and truly only findable on our site.
But people seem to be motivated by either wanting a special deal (something that is just for them that is hard to find anywhere else) or wanting to get rich (or at least get paid more than they could elsewhere). And I don’t blame them!
So what’s the economic advantage for our helpers to stay on our platform and continue to fork out 20% to us when they get booked? And on the flip side, what’s the economic advantage for the user to book those services on our site when they aren’t really a whole lot cheaper than they can find elsewhere?
Damnit. I don’t know how to answer that question and that’s a huge problem – or at least it threatens to be once we get our demand-side going.
No fear, I have a couple of ideas. But with limited resources, it’s going to feel like rerouting the titanic after spotting the iceberg in order to move directions (I kid – it wouldn’t be that hard but it would probably feel just as arduous).
One idea is segmentation. I have thought for a while that MyPeopleNow.com/Childcare could take off. A place where (like Airbnb) we enable semi-retired people for example who have an underutilized resource (their time) to earn extra revenue by casually babysitting kids around their neighborhood. I’ve also talked with a friend of mine about doing this for MyPeopleNow.com/Mentor where we get average everyday people to sign up to teach a skill to someone in their area.
Another idea is switching entirely to long-tail services (think energy healing or playing basketball with a semi-pro). And yet another idea is switching entirely to on-demand video chat services (imagine being bored and just randomly connecting with a super cool person who happens to be an expert at something that interests you).
There. That’s all I got. I don’t have any more brilliant ideas for the economic advantage thing. That’s not to say I am giving up, but I am putting this all out there to see if I can manifest some ideas or suggestions.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Chapter 2 – High Frequency.
Link to the NFX article I mentioned: https://www.nfx.com/post/the-nfx-marketplace-scorecard