How build an online marketplace with Webflow, Airtable & Zapier 🤖
Learn how to build and validate your business idea without having to learn how to code or hire developers.
How I built NZ's largest freelancer site without knowing how to code
In early 2019, I launched Unicorn Factory to New Zealand businesses and freelancers. Today it is New Zealand's largest freelancer marketplace, where over the last twelve months, I helped over 1500 Kiwi businesses find and hire over 550 local freelancers.
It costs me around $500 per month to run the platform, I don't have any employees and it requires about 4-5 hours of my time each week. This year, Unicorn Factory is expanding internationally with the launch of Unicorn Factory Canada.
And I did all of this without knowing how to code, without hiring developers and without needing to quit my freelance work to bring it to life. More importantly, it has allowed me to have a huge impact on freelancers and local businesses in New Zealand.
🦄 How to Start an Online Marketplace
Through starting Unicorn Factory and working with other marketplace startups, I have learnt that building a successful online marketplace comes down to five key points:
- Identify industries where suppliers have difficulties promoting themselves and customers have difficulties finding the right suppliers.
- Figure out what information customers need in order to find the right suppliers.
- Create a local prototype of a directory that organises the information that customers need to find the right service or supplier for their needs.
- Collect feedback on how easy it is for customers to find the right service or supplier with your prototype.
- Use that feedback to make improvements. Repeat step 4 & 5 until rich.
🎯 The Challenges
That all sounds pretty straightforward but in reality launching your own marketplace comes with a lot of challenges:
Building your prototype
Building a prototype can be expensive. It would typically involve hiring good developers and being clear on what needs to built. Without tech experience it can be very difficult to find the right talent for your project, and hiring the wrong person will cost you time and money.
An alternative to hiring someone to build the platform for you, is to learn how to build it yourself. It can take years to learn how to code or how to use No Code tools on your own.
Managing ongoing costs
If you are relying on others to build and run your platform, you are signing up to significant ongoing costs before knowing if your business will make money. That is one of the most common reasons why marketplaces (or any business) fail - they run out of money.
Picking a feasible business model
There are a lot of different ways to monetise a marketplace, but the right one for you will depend on your niche and how much traction you have. Picking the wrong business model will make it very hard for you to run your marketplace sustainably.
🚀 The MVMP Launchpad
The MVMP Coaching program was created to help aspiring marketplace entrepreneurs who can't code (or can...) get their platform up and running faster without having to invest tens of thousands of dollars in developers or spending 2000+ hours researching different content on the internet. Throughout this program I take you through the exact process I went through to create the Unicorn Factory New Zealand and Canada.
What will you learn?
- How to design and build your directory- I will teach you how you can design and build your directory using Webflow. Besides giving you video tutorials on how Webflow works, you will also get a copy of my MVMP Template.
- How to build an admin database - I will also teach you how to design and build a database that will control all the flow of information on your website and all the other tools that you are using.
- How to automate your workflows - You will also learn how to automate workflows for your marketplace, so instead of having to manually set things up every time someone signs up, you can just kick back and work on your platform.
- How to use integrations to take your site to the next level- You will learn how to integrate third-party tools like Memberstack or Jetboost to really add some delightful elements to your site like user accounts or directory filtering.
- How to use systems to get traction for your platform - I will show you workflows and systems that I used to get traction on the Unicorn Factory, because you will need suppliers on your directory in order to launch and you will need customers to use your site to keep your suppliers happy.
- How to be in charge of your platform without relying on anyone- My main goal for this program is to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to build and iterate on your online marketplace without needing to hire anyone. You will be in full control of your online business.
⚡️Who is this for?
The MVMP program is not a get rich quick scheme. Learning how to build a No Code marketplace requires serious commitment. If you are serious about starting a marketplace and you think that No Code is the way to go, then this program will be perfect for you.
💰Niche Consultants & Coaches
- You are already consulting in a niche. You see building a marketplace as a fantastic way to add additional value to your existing clients and as a great to attract new leads for your business.
- Your biggest challenge is that you don't have the technical experience to build your own platform without hiring developers.
- You see this an opportunity to create additional revenue streams for your consulting business, but more importantly, as a way to become more of an authority in your niche.
- Why we want to work with you? As someone who is already well established in a niche, you will be able to build momentum quickly. Having connections and relationships in your niche, will increase the likelihood of your success.
- You have spotted an opportunity in an industry where and want to move quickly before others enter the picture.
- Your biggest challenge is the need to move fast and iterate quickly, which is why you don't like the idea of hiring developers and not having control over their availability to make changes. You might have also had negative experience with developers in the past.
- Your want to work smart not hard, you want your platform to make more money than it costs you and you want to work on a business that you can scale in the future.
- Why we want to work with you? Entrepreneurs understand that the key to success with any business does not solely depend on the product. They know how to get traction and they know how to make sales.
🌟 Community Organisers
- You are the person in your community that knows everyone, you organise a lot of events and you connect people within your community.
- Your biggest challenge is monetising the services you provide and the value you bring to your community.
- Your main motivation is increasing your impact and bringing more people into your community.
- Why we want to work with you? Building a community and building an online marketplace require the same skills. We want to help you build a system around how you nurture and grow your community online in a sustainable way (and yes, that involves making money).
🏗 No Code Marketplace Template
You will get access to our MVMP template, which you can use to modify to fit your niche and use case. This is the exact template that I used to create Unicorn Factory Canada. Some of the features included in our template are:
- 20 Static Pages with pre-built elements - You will get access to a bunch of prebuilt pages and elements that you can easily adjust to fit your brand. That way you have to build nothing from scratch and get your site up and running faster.
- Mobile Responsive - Our entire template is designed to be mobile responsive which means you will not need to worry about your site looking weird on mobile.
- Styleguide - You can easily update your branding by using our style guide page that is connecting to the entire template. That means if you want to change the font, background color or any other default elements.
📒 Tutorials & Homework
You will also get access to a tutorial library that you can access throughout the course and after. You can use this course library to prepare for our sessions, revisit specific workflows that we talked about in our call and plenty of other fun things. Some of the highlights include:
- In-depth tutorials - I will share with you in-depth tutorials that you can rewatch and rebuild in your own time, so that we can use our 1-on-1 catch ups to work on things you are finding hard.
- New updates - I constantly update our tutorial library as new tools come out or I find better workflows for certain use cases. Even after our eight sessions you will be able to access those tutorials.
- Community - You will also get access to our Slack channel or any other community channels that we might use in the future so you can get in touch when you need help.
📷 Eight One-on-one Zoom Sessions with Connor
And then finally... eight one-on-one sessions with me. Throughout these sessions we go over different aspects of building your site and I will answer any questions you might have about your specific marketplace.
- Zoom Recordings - I will record all calls and share them with you after, so you can rewatch it in your own time.
- No Code Strategies - It goes without saying that I can give you tips, tricks and shortcuts for anything No Code related.
- Tractions & Growth Strategies- I can also help you with marketing and sales strategies that will help you get traction for your marketplace a lot of faster.
Ready to take action?
Schedule a call, let's discuss a game plan and get to action. Your MVP could be up and running in a few weeks.Yes, let's talk!
🎓 MVMP Alumni
🌱 Chive Charities (New Zealand)
Chive Charities is an online directory that makes it easier for Kiwis to find and support their favourite charities in New Zealand.
Founders Alice and Stephen, who have involved in the charities space for years, came to me in June 2020 with the idea for Chive. Over the course of six weeks we designed, built and launched the platform.
They have since gone on to sign up over 100 charities in New Zealand. They have added several new features to Chive by themselves, using the knowledge they gained through our one-on-one sessions. Finally, they successfully validated their pricing strategy in under two months and are now on track for a huge 2021.