The 'chicken and egg' dilemma that I'm talking about exists for newly created marketplaces. The marketplace needs both sellers and buyers to be successful. But sellers want existing buyers before joining a platform, and buyers want sellers before they join, too! Otherwise, what value would they get from the marketplace?
Over the past year I've developed a marketplace for online education. I spent a lot of time finding and recruiting educators from different industries to create a course on my website, and some did express interest. Every single person that I approached, however, was extremely hesitant about the fact that there wasn't an existing user base. They would have to do all of their marketing themselves.
Ultimately, no one created a course, and the website was left in limbo for a while.
In the meantime, I was blogging, and wrote an article or two about bitcoin. Specifically, bitcoin arbitrage. My posts were ranking well for popular google searches, which brought steady traffic and further interest. I had also written an open source bitcoin arbitrage bot, so I connected some dots and stumbled across the idea of offering a course about setting up your own bitcoin arbitrage bot.
It turns out that Uludum, the marketplace I created, is perfect for this scenario. Uludum is the only platform the ability to create a crowdfund for your course. So I created a crowdfund, posted an ad banner on my website (which you can probably see at the top of the page), and sat back to watch.
I got a few preorders in the first day. Since then, I'm half way to my fundraising goal with 28 days to go. Either way, I'll be creating the course, because my ultimate goal for this is to promote Uludum, the education platform.
Creating the bitcoin course has caught the interest of educators and students who are just interested in the platform (not the bitcoin course) and have signed up. I'll be able to use the positive results from this course as a testimony to use in the future when I talk to educators.
If you're building a marketplace and struggling with the chicken and egg problem, consider becoming either the chicken or the egg. That means being an initial seller or buyer.
It's also a fantastic way to get to know your platform intimately from either the buyer's or seller's perspective. I wouldn't be able to recognize key features that educators would want if I hadn't created my own course with real users.