By Jason Wyatt, Managing Director Marketplacer
Successful small businesses often come to a fork in the road where they have to decide if they are going to stay small or grow into something bigger.
There’s no shame in staying small and doing what you do well. With Marketplacer, however, we were excited about the potential we saw in growing our business, which is why we had to think hard about how we would go about the process of expansion.
From day one with BikeExchange we thought, if we can pull off one vertical, it’d be nice to go into other segments too. But we quickly realised running a marketplace is complicated work.
You’ve got to build a sense of belonging within your community and amongst your buyers and sellers and with consumers and content. You need to connect with your tribe. To do that you need a huge amount of passion, and you need to understand the heartbeat of the industry. You need to understand the customers.
You also need the technology that actually works to do all that.
You’re thinking about the processes you have to put in place, the structure of the marketplace, everything from the code that needs to be written to make it all function through to how you go about marketing the whole thing.
We knew we couldn’t do everything by ourselves if we were going to get into new marketplaces, so we had to partner with great people.
We had a good idea our technology could scale, that our business processes and all those learnings that we’d spent five or six years creating with BikeExchange actually genuinely could scale.
What decided to partner with great people who wanted to create marketplaces and to be that tribe leader within each of those industries.
We partnered first with Kerri Turner on TiniTrader. Kerry is a really capable, strong business woman in her own right and she really has a passion for the babies and kids community. We did a joint venture and licensed our technology to Kerri for TiniTrader.
We did the same for Carlinea Williamson and Stephen Jones in House of Home, who brought with them an incredible knowledge and passion for products and services for the home.
Then we did the same with Gerry Ryan for Outdoria in the outdoor space. Gerry is a legend of Australian business, known to many in the business community as the “caravan king” for his work building Jayco into Australia’s leading caravan manufacturer.
And we’ve recently done another one in Tixstar, with Jordan Leask and Clint Hillas, two dynamic and passionate guys with a heap of experience in the sports and events hospitality industry.
Our theory was that we had to scale through great people who could bring huge amounts of personal capability and passion into nurturing and creating each marketplace.
But we could accelerate them through the process by providing a huge amount of technology, which they didn’t have to focus on, as well as the marketplace learnings we had garnered through our work on BikeExchange.
Partnering with these people made it a matter of 1 + 1 = 10: the growth was exponential because the fit was right. We’ve been able to accelerate the growth of these marketplaces at an incredible pace, in an incredibly short period of time.
We couldn’t have done that without the right partners.
If you’re a small business looking to grow, think about the people you want to be in business with.
- What do they bring to the table?
- Are they genuinely passionate about what they do?
- Do they have industry knowledge or a track record in business?
- Are they looking for quick returns or in it for the long haul?
- What do you want out of the partnership?
When you’re able to confidently answer these questions, you might have struck gold in the business partnership stakes.