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Factors to consider when developing your own marketplace.

Creating a successful app isn’t just about developing great software – it’s about making sure people are going to use it. Here are some recommendations for anyone looking to build their own marketplace on our open source blockchain platform.

BitBoost’s open source software is ready to start using for any developers who want to build their own marketplaces. Our open source blockchain platform enables you to create your own applications, without having to do any of the heavy lifting involved in interacting with the blockchain for payments or coding smart contracts. This means you can create working software very fast, and get an MVP out to market as quickly as possible.

Before you get started, though, there are a few things that are worth bearing in mind. These will help you ensure your hard work won’t be wasted and that your application will have users.

Finding your market niche

The best software in the world won’t lead to a successful business if there isn’t a need for it, so before you start you should check if there really is a market for your app. A local niche is often a good place to start, or there might be a need you see in an online community. The point is, this is probably somewhere you hang out on a regular basis and so you have seen where the demand for your product will come from first hand. Getting started isn’t always easy, as this writer describes of AirBnB. In fact, getting users is often harder than creating the first iteration of your software.

Local is good, but think also about your vertical – the specific sector or area you’re working with. For example, AirBnB deals with accommodation, Uber with transport. Ebay is a very general (and huge) marketplace; Etsy has managed to compete by concentrating on the very specific handmade/artisan niche. Starting out, then, you might combine the local and vertical into a focus on ‘second-hand mountain gear in the Alps’, or ‘high-end holiday properties in Switzerland’. (In your case, it’s going to be certain markets among users with an interest in or who are prepared to use open source blockchain platforms, at least to start with – initially, you can’t assume you will create your own userbase, no matter how good your idea.) Once you’ve figured out your niche, you need to validate it, i.e. make sure it’s viable.

The best way to do this is simply to ask the people you plan to serve – those who will hopefully be using your marketplace (e.g. hikers and climbers with the Alps in their sights). Talk to them, seek their advice, and learn from it. After all, these are the people who know best and without them, you’ve got no market. By asking for their feedback, you not only gain valuable information but also their gratitude, goodwill, and a personal connection.

If you can solve one of their pain points (again – ask what would be most helpful to them!) then why wouldn’t they use your new service? Is it quality, or breadth of choice? Is it flexibility – for example, is this the point you decide to pivot to a hiking gear rental marketplace, rather than selling outright? And finally, you need to offer this USP at a price that is both attractive and realistic. All of this can be figured out in direct consultation with your prospective users.

Establish demand

Once you’ve determined the parameters within which you’re going to compete, you need to establish if there’s demand – and ideally enough demand to make a living. The #1 company killer is lack of market. You might serve those hikers heading for the Alps better than anyone else does, but if there aren’t enough of them… your business will inevitably fail. As you talk to your potential customer base, gauge their enthusiasm and refine your idea to ensure market fit. This trumps pretty much everything. With it, you stand a strong chance of success. Without it, the maths is against you and your business simply cannot succeed.

Articulating your brand

You’ll also need to think about branding – how you come across to your prospective customers. That includes visual elements like your logo and overall look, but it’s far broader than that. It includes everything about the impression you give out and the kind of people you seek to attract, from the tone and style of your content to your user experience and the types of items that are listed on your marketplace. This also encompasses how you interact with your users, from advertising down to customer support.

We can all think of companies that compete impressively on price but are terrible at answering customer service calls. It might not match what they tell you about themselves in their advertising and marketing materials, but that’s their brand, whether they like it or not.

In the next two of this series of three posts about building on BitBoost’s software we’ll be exploring further factors to bear in mind when launching your marketplace on our open source blockchain platform. Stay tuned and let us know if they’re helpful!