How to Build a Marketplace Product From Zero by Typeform Group PM, Sadaf Zahid

Advice on how to break into product with 0 experience.

1. First leverage your strengths!

For those with:

- Engineering or Design skills, build a new product

- Business background, leverage consulting, marketing or sales skills.

2. Demonstrate execution skills.

  1. Learn to address key skills gaps.

Questions to Answer

- PMs and entrepreneurs looking for advice on:

  • How to start from scratch when building a 0 to 1 marketplace product?

"How can we walk away from requirements that we know to be true to pursue something that we think will help?" It turns out that is exactly what product strategy is all about - figuring out the right product is the innovator`s job, not the customer`s job."

Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

3 takeways: Building marketplace products from 0

  • Focus on the hardest customer first

  • Think not just product, but building customer experience

  • Execution matters for product too!

Marketplaces have a coldstart problem so which user do you focus on?

For example, the PM has great ideas but to create a market product, but there are no buyers. There are uninterested sellers. What are you doing? To solve the problem of cold start, it is necessary to create a small network of buyers and sellers interacting with each other in this market.

Solve a problem for the hardest user first.

  • Why?

    • Somebody has probably already solved a problem for the easier side

    • Users with an unsolved problem can create lots of value for you

    • Helps you create a small network

  • How to convince them?

    • Financial incentive – 0 fees for sellers – Vinted

    • Set up a tool to create network effects

    • Clear value proposition – product delivers promise and execution

Clear value proposition

  • Sub-segment side of the marketplace that is tough to attract

    • Research these customers

  • Product needs to deliver strapline promise

    • Fairer prices and zero hassle

    • Built in mechanisms to support value proposition

    • Built systems of buyers and sellers to talk to each other e.g.

      Amazon reviews is a great example

Product and business to drive customer experience

  • Execute on customer experience

    • Details matter – e.g. Bloom and Wild

    • Narrow down category of products

    • Friction to protect customer experience

Product execution: Ensuring that we were discovering the right things

  • Discovery

    • Virtual opportunity maps of customer issues

    • Standardised communication from research to inform company

    • Ran smoke screen tests before building

Stage gate process for faster execution

Product Execution: Launch and Focus

  • What to build immediately Process

    • Longer term commitments were more like discovery roadmaps

    • Certainty of what to build for 1 month

    • Differentiation and Iteration

  • Prioritization

    • Launched basic features first

    • Iterated to target key problems for sellers

    • Focused on early successes and improvements after we identified key differentiators

Product execution: Goal Setting

  • Goal setting of squads and metrics

    • Initially aligned squads to 2 key North star metrics

    • Priorities shifted to growing buyers and sellers and aligning squads accordingly

  • Balancing roadmap

    • Within each squad, key recurring prioritization questions on:

      • Improving customer experience

      • Increasing top line growth and network effects

      • Building mechanisms for buyers and sellers to communicate

  • Alignment across squads

3 takeways: Building marketplace products from 0

  • Focus on the hardest customer first

  • Think not just product, but building customer experience

  • Execution matters for product too!

These are the things that can help you build a product roadmap and launch your business product from 0 to 1.

Sadaf Zahid, Typeform Group PM