It’s been 5 months since I’ve launched my MVP on Bubble. I haven’t be able to gain any traction and move forward with it much. I spoke with other marketplace founder, and he says that I should stop doing any coding on Bubble and go back to validating my idea. I am trying to decide whether I should buy a bubble template like zeroqode marketplace or use wordpress directory templates so I can focus on validating my idea again or pivot completely.
The idea behind my app is simplifying how users find and book creative experiences. So far I’ve been manually aggregating DIY, Arts and Crafts workshops in Austin, Texas. I have 4 providers/customers that would like to post their workshops and work with me. I have about 110 users on the site.
Any feedback would be much appreciated!
Here is the link to my app:
Hi, i see your design could do with some polishing.
what makes your app niche compared to meetup or eventbrite
Community meet up/ class type apps are highly competitive since you need to have a large usebase for them to be effective.
I think if you delivered nicer interface & experience you could maybe compete but as it stands now i dont see any market for your product.
I can help, I’ve run a few marketplaces well and not well, here are my top 5 tips:
1. One side must have high churn and the other side must be slow-zero churn. (Airbnb example Thousands of Trip makers constantly booking holidays, vs Hosts who join… and then rarely leave)
2. One side must be time-poor and/or money rich
(Airbnb for example, Trip makers are intent on a holiday/trip so they are money rich + often in a hurry to book, so time poor)
3. Your homepage must be full of activity
(This person just booked, that person just rated etc)
4. You must add value to keep transactions on the platform (vs contacting direct)
(Insurance? Guarantees? Vetting? whatever… just keep them locked in)
5. Acquisition trumps UX in the beginning
(Annoying pop-ups once they find somewhere, limited results until they sign up… whatever, just convert.)
I wouldn’t ditch your current build, probably just needs tightening up a little.
It might also be worth checking out Sharetribe (https://www.sharetribe.com/) I’ve seen quite a few marketplaces built on that. (This is definitely not to say that you can’t build it with Bubble, but Sharetribe is only focused on custom marketplaces). There’s also this list of curated resources for building and launching a marketplace: https://thinkbox.io/?ref=producthunt#resourcestash
Thank you for your advice. You make all great points.
I am not trying to compete with meetup or eventbrite. I am trying to offer a different alternative for the users. I am also trying to go niche at first and get quality providers. The challenge has been figuring out a target audience, keeping them engaged, getting feedback as DIY classes can appeal to different range of people. I agree that I do need to update user interface/experience. That’s where I need some help.
your app could be more niche with gamification.
Ive been using zenly a lot lately, its fun experience
You mentioned originally wondering if you should focus on validating your idea. From the language you’re using it sounds like you’re a Lean Startup fan - can you share your lean canvas or customer hypotheses here?
I think working on the interface superficially is important, but you’re not offering a website to graphic designers who’d necessarily be turned off by an unattractive interface. It sounds like the core problem you’re trying to solve for your clients is having access to a greater range of activities more easily than going on to Google and searching, manually comparing offers from different sources, etc. Are there any other pain points these clients are facing using their existing alternative to your service? Why should I use your site and not just search on Google for activities?
If you’ve started aggregating yourself, you should in theory be solving that core problem for your 100 existing users. So what feedback have you got from them regarding why they’re not using it as you expected? Have you observed their interactions with the site? What’s you’re own hypothesis for why they’re not using it?
If we answer these questions we can see if some functionality of your site is missing or not helping your clients in the right way. Once you know the functionality you need to solve the problem, and you test and validate it, then you’ll know if Bubble or Wordpress would be better to host that functionality.
Their guide on marketplaces is a must read.
I’m on the validating phase of a marketplace. Haven’t started developing anything yet and I won’t until I’m fairly sure there is a market for my idea.
Sharetribe is the best solution for you. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel rather affordable alternatives are available.
You can use Webflow to create a landing page and add them to your mailing list to first attract a user base so you can kickstart your platform right from the first day starting up.
Reviews are essential in building trust.
Thanks Paul -
Appreciate your awesome feedback! Would love to chat more!
I’ve been thinking about incorporating gamification. The key is to align it to user needs. I’ll look into zenly. Not sure if you read this book by Nir Eyal - Hooked. How to build habit-forming products.
Great read. Highly recommend if you want to raise customer engagement in your app.
Thanks Faye for the recommendation. I’ve been reading up about marketplaces on sharetribe. Definitely a lot of useful resources for marketplace founders. What scares about them is their monthly pricing.
Are you comfortable with the tech side of web applications? Specifically Ruby on Rails and deployment of RoR apps?
If so you have the option of using Sharetribe Go open source version.
And there is a tutorial around to deploy it on Heroku.
Hi Richard -
I’ve been trying to run a lean startup framework. I’ve done lean canvas for each segment: providers, instructors and students.
Yes, you’re right. The core problem I am trying to solve right now for students is to make it much easier to find classes rather than going to Google search, eventbrite or facebook. I was looking myself for some classes and it was very time consuming and painful to find good ones. I’ve been trying to get some feedback from the users, however I haven’t received much. I believe that there is much more value for the providers than students.
Here is the lean canvas for students.
Hi Jon -
Thanks for the advice. I am not too comfortable with ROR but I’ll look into it.
I would focus the whole value proposition on the suppliers(teachers) and not the consumers(students).
Students will work around your marketplace once they find a teacher they like so it’s going to be very difficult for you to become profitable focusing on students.
Instead you will probably want to charge teachers for listing their courses to increase their visibility. And if that is the case the whole value proposition might need to change from students to teachers.
Also your lean canvas is mixing students and teachers. Maybe do a separate one for each side and you might see things you missed.
Hey Jon -
Here is the lean canvas for studio owners/providers.
Here is the lean canvas for instructors.
I see that you marked your unfair advantage as community for all the parties. However the existing alternatives you mention do have the unfair advantage of community over you(Social Networks).
I think your idea is worth a try, but those canvas will probably make your marketing efforts to be misguided.
Maybe it’s the marketing what’s blocking traction?
Focus on minimum effort and spend to answer the questions you have. Is there enough customer demand? Maybe promote early access with a google ad purchase and see how many potential customers sign up. What will people pay? Maybe accept requests / orders through a simple submission form and deliver responses by email. If the demand is there early adopters will not care how slick the app is, only if they are getting their unmet need satisfied. Not saying these are the right way for you, only sharing some examples of getting your questions answered with minimal time and money spent.
I quickly checked Your platform – like it! The idea is great & up-to-date. It taps into the current trend toward more experience, away from classical consumption.
But I suppose that the register wall pops in too early. When I click on the listing I’d expect to see a more detailed view of the offering. Instead I have to register. I’d not limit access to information but access towards booking / contact information in exchange for user data.
Hope that is a helpful input.