What are some helpful tips for getting a marketplace working in its early days? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Sumir Meghani, Instawork Co-Founder and CEO, on Quora:

Do things that don't scale. This means talking to your users, even one at a time, and being physically around them as much as possible. Specifically in a marketplace, you should bring both sides together in a manual way. In most cases, you can do this without writing a single line of code. Getting the flywheel to spin often requires a lot of heavy lifting in the early days. For example, at Instawork, we manually helped our first Partner, Range (a restaurant in the Mission in San Francisco now called The Beehive), find line cooks, literally using a spreadsheet and our mobile phones.

The next tip is more of what not to do, and this may be controversial, but find a way to acquire your early users in a way that doesn't require spending money on online ads. You want your first power users to be incredibly authentic. This will force you to go into the field and get to know them in a deep way by understanding their motivations, their desires, and their anxieties. There are countless examples of successful marketplaces doing this, such as the Nextdoor founders going door-to-door in their earliest target neighborhoods to sign up users. The best products are so powerful that users naturally tell their friends about it. The fastest way to create that energy is the personal touch from a founding team in the early days of a marketplace that can help it go viral.

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Published on: Apr 25, 2019