I am looking to create a marketplace for high school students to get coaching on college admissions from current college students. I'm bootstrapping my startup, so I don't have tens (hundreds) of thousands of dollars to develop a highly complex web/mobile app from scratch. I am looking to understand what other solutions exist for an MVP.
Thank you for being generous with your time reading this. [Please keep reading for a features list, if you wish.]
The features of the MVP would be simple. From the buyer (student) side, it would include: user registration, sign-up, browse, search, filter, view profile, save profile, select service to purchase, purchase service, chat with seller (college student), and maybe, built-in video call.
From the seller (college student) side, it would include: registration, create service to sell, set price and details of service to sell, create multiple services, input payout options (paypal, and if possible direct to bank account or venmo), accept booking, chat with buyer, and video call.
From the admin side, it would include all the perks of being admin including setting/changing commission.
I am sure I have not covered all, but I don't want to inundate you with details for now. :-)
This sounds like an exciting venture and a worthy cause, EdTech is a hot space right now, and rightly so.
Something to consider first of all is whether you want to build an MVP or a basic prototype.
If you are digitizing something which already exists, and therefore the need and model is proven in the real world, then it might be worth building basic foundations with a prototype.
This means that you can then build on it as you learn more about how your customers want to use your marketplace.
If cost is a major consideration then you might want to "fake it until you make it" i.e. create a slick online proposition but leaving out much of the plumbing in the background initially, and doing the background operational functions more manually.
The additional benefit is understanding how the marketplace will operate before translating that into product requirements, I used this method for over a year initially when creating a marketplace and it served us well.
The more "perks" and functionality you want to add the more cost will be involved, just focusing on the basics and doing those right is best as often when it's not clear how users will use the marketplace you can end up creating functionality that isn't used.
This comes at a cost both financially as well as time-wise when you could be developing other stuff.
It is important not just to think about the technical/product solution which is exciting and fun to do but the overall business.
In terms of funding one of the approaches might be:
1. Self-funded/friends and family - until something tangible to show e.g. MVP
2. Angel funding
3. Angel/growth funding as you scale
Unless you can bring onboard a technical cofounder who will build for equity or you can access government grants or similar support funding.
Marketplaces are capital intensive, require a lot of marketing and a lot of throughput, something worth considering from the outset.
I believe that you are not the only one who has this idea. Many are developing a business on the idea, and many have already developed it. Plus, there are “first movers” who will do anything to make you unsuccessful. Your plan is excellent, but only problem is there are many with the same plan and working on it. Competition, direct and indirect, will undo your best plans if it possibly can, certainly their activities create a “moving target”, demanding that strategies be adjusted continuously. Markets and customers are volatile too. Markets are affected as much by fashion and fad as by economics. Customers are increasingly demanding, ever fickler and their loyalty to products and brands is harder to win, and then has a more temporary hold than in the past. A host of external factors act on markets and affect customers’ willingness to buy. These include economic factors and what customers can afford, political factors and how markets can operate, social factors affecting how people live and therefore what their needs are, technological factors such as the rise of information technology, and environmental factors that may affect choice and regulation. The only viable way I see is to do market research because business is an uncertain undertaking.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath
One of the best ways to code a MVP is a no-code platform.
No-Code platforms are visual tools that rely on a drag and drop interface and transform the interface, database structure and processes.
In my opinion the best tool for your idea is Bubble.io
You can start free and only pay when you go into production mode.
A few big advantages of Bubble (especially in regards to your idea) are:
*in-built sign up/ sign in /forgot password functionality (can be implemented in 10 minutes with few clicks)
*in-built database, easy to create necessary database structure
*automate basically everything with an "If this / then that"- editor
*dynamically insert content from database
*you own your customer's data and can export it
*marketplace of free and paid plugins
* payment processing via 3rd party provider
Of course no software is perfect so here some of the disadvantages to consider:
* there is a learning curve, especially when it goes beyond the basics
* the UI editor is outdated, as it works with absolute positioning coordinates and width/height instead of relative value for easy responsive design. There is a responsive module but it is not intuitive and a pain to debug
* the application will be slow with lots of users
* while it is easy to build so it works it is hard for non-coders to build processes that do not slow down the software, as it all depends on how you write and read data.
Overall if you do not have the budget and just need to start out I would definitely say the pros outweigh the cons. As you can build a MVP in a reasonable timeframe, get started, build your community and deliver a proof of concept to get the necessary funding.
If you need any help with that let us chat:
All the best