A while back, I wrote a piece on the "Marketplaces for Social Good," if you have not read it, please do give it a shot.
One theme that draws my attention apart from solving issues in education, financial services, and gender equality is marketplaces. I am personally bullish on marketplaces, I see them as a tool to bring price transparency, accessibility, and efficiency in the value-chain, especially in the emerging markets, where the markets are opaque, fragmented and lack accountability. They are very much applicable in the emerging economies in sectors like retail, healthcare, education, agriculture, and financial services.
How to evaluate a marketplace startup?
Fabrice Grinda, ex-CEO of Olx, and co-founder of FJ Labs, a VC and company builder focused on marketplaces. Fabrice has led 500 investments in startups in his lifetime, out of which 350 are in marketplaces.
Is this business attractive? in terms of
Unit Economics (Actual Vs. Theoretical): The 'good' unit economics is one where the company can recoup their fully-loaded customer acquisition costs in six-months on a net contribution margin basis.
Valuation/ Pricing: $1 bn + potential enterprise value
Low disintermediation risk
Market Domination: Market leader potential, growing market, the possibility of optimizing TAM and increasing it
Capital Efficiency: Scalable & capital efficient
Team, in terms of
Grit & tenacity
Demonstrated passion and
Metrics-driven & analytical.
Are the deal terms reasonable? The attractive price is relative to the team, traction & market.
Does it match the thesis? Is it a thesis-driven investment or an opportunistic investment.
What's my marketplace thesis?
Veriticalisation of Horizontals, not just Craiglist but beyond - betting on niches, also emerging out to be billion-dollar markets.
Curated/ managed marketplaces are a way to go where the platform curates the products/ service offerings for the customer using AI, deep learning, and machine learning.
B2B, a lot can be done to bring price transparency and formalisation in the B2B space, which is full of inefficiencies and informal ways of doing things.
Curated resources for further curiosity:
[Playbook] A Guide to Marketplaces
[Podcast] Fabrice Grinda, FJ Labs
[Article] What's Next for Marketplace Startups?
I am continuously looking for marketplace solutions that can serve mass-markets in emerging economies. If you are building one or investing in one in Indonesia or SEA, please do write to me, I would love to learn more from you.
Occasionally, he blogs about the responsible investing, tech for good, venture capital, investment thesis, conscious capitalism, collaborative consumption, community, and humane lifestyle.