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Building your marketplace is hard, see how we tried: The idea

Stelace rose from the ashes of Sharinplace in 2018. In 2019, after almost two years spent rebuilding and testing our new platform runner architecture and our codebase almost from scratch, our Search, automation and marketplace management APIs are ready to accelerate platform development to a new level.

When you decide to start your Internet business, you know you’re going into an adventure that’s fraught with pitfalls. It’s hard but it’s also fascinating and motivating. This article is the first in a series of 7 in which we’ll share some of the traps we fell in when launching our marketplace and hopefully a few tips to avoid them.

You don’t want to to cripple yourself even before launching your business, do you ? Put your ideas to the test!

You like your idea. Otherwise you wouldn’t dare sharing it with your friends and your family. But the truth is, because they matter that much to you, they will probably be supportive (at the beginning at least),

“So, how is your business doing?! Is it growing?!” — Each of your relatives

Between us, it can be really exhausting in the end…

Close ones could spread the word but they will not help you asking yourself the good questions. The ones that make the difference between success and failure. And in the end, should you fail, you will be the only one to blame!

Attend events, meet new people and talk about your business idea to assess your vision. Do not fear to expose your idea! See how people react, listen to them, read between the lines, or in their eyes. It’s the fastest way to check your positioning and those little talks will keep you improving your pitch!

Do you plan to have a great product or service ? Plan an awesome sales strategy!

When we started our marketplace Sharinplace, since our idea seemed awesome, of course, we thought making some advertising through social networks would be enough… Do not make the same naive mistake ! In other words, do not think that good products sell themselves! It’s one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs keep making. We had great ambitions for our marketplace and our product eventually met them, technically speaking. But we underestimated the distribution question and finding new customers was a struggle despite great customer satisfaction. We did not build our product with a real distribution/audience acquisition plan, and that is not a mistake you can easily recover from.

“Great Idea ! How do you make it known ?”
“We use social networks and we have a nice blog”
“Cool ! Is it Working ?”
“Not that much… But you could help us spread the word :)”
“…”

Putting yourself back on the right track is a long way, especially when you’re not a brilliant storyteller! But the ultimate secret is to be authentic and to tell something only you can tell. Doing so, you might end up catching people attention.

Do you want to stack all the odds in your favor? Think about your idea like crazy!

Here is an advice we would have liked to receive before launching. Try to answer Peters’ Thiel 7 questions, worth meditating on:

The Engineering Question: Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvement ?

The Timing Question: Is now the right time to start this particular business? Think about Microsoft fail ([Microsoft Invented A Tablet A Decade Before Apple And Totally Blew It](http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/heres-visual-proof-of-just-how-badly-microsoft-blew-it-with-tablets-2013-5/ ‘Microsoft Invented A Tablet A Decade Before Apple And Totally Blew Itundefined)) to launch a tablet 10 years before Apple. Bill Gates himself said this fail was due to bad timing (Bill Gates: Here’s Why The iPad Was A Success And…) .

The Monopoly Question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?

The Distribution Question: Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?For those two questions think about Facebook (easy one).Facebook started in one American campus and then spread in all American campus before reaching so many households.

The People Question: Do you have the right team?Your team is a sum of skills essential to your business. Choose the right people: skilled, motivated and credible, and most importantly sharing a common goal.

“A few key people make all the difference in any company — no matter how big or small” — Mark Suster

The Durability Question: Will your market position be defensible 10 or 20 years into the future?

The Secret Question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?Electric car company Tesla did, when leveraging on some key influencers looking for cooler and potentially greener mobility solutions. Does Blood Diamonds name ring a bell ?

You don’t have to excel at the 7 questions to succeed. If you can properly answer to 5 or 6 of them, it could be enough. But if you score only 2 or 3 of them, well… You have serious reasons to worry about your current idea.

Clean slate?

Originally published at stelace.com on March 28, 2017.

Next from this series: [Building your marketplace is hard, see how we tried: The audience](https://stelace.com/blog/building-your-marketplace-is-hard-see-how-we-tried-the-audience-2-7/)

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Marie-Gabrielle Gonzalez

Marie-Gabrielle Gonzalez

Cofounder at Stelace.com : Ecosystem of APIs for #Marketplaces. Powerful search infrastructure and inventory management. #ecocollab #sharingeconomy #ecommerce

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