The first reader visited Platformed.info on August 15, 2012. Exactly a month down the line, this is my first direct post to the readers here.
To start with, thanks so much for all the feedback! I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of growth/traction when I started writing here but the last month has been interesting in many ways. One month down the line, this site has close to 200 subscribers (mail+RSS), has had a maximum traffic day of 15000+ visits (thanks to Reddit) and has had several articles featured/trending at the top of Zite, Reddit and Hacker News.
Most importantly, it has helped connect with entrepreneurs across the world building interesting platforms who have started leveraging some of the strategies and design principles mentioned here. It’s provided great opportunities for advisory collaboration with several of them, which in turn has helped me refine my findings further in multiple execution scenarios. Many of the posts here are direct outcomes of those discussions. That, without a doubt, has been the greatest reward in itself.
Why did I start this?
I’ve worked on building several platform businesses over the last 6 years. The biggest thing I learnt from that experience is that failure is over-rated. Yes, you improve your chances of success every subsequent time by avoiding the things that came in your way the last time around but that’s about it. You still don’t know what it takes to succeed. That’s why I started trying to figure out the patterns that help platforms succeed.
I’ve realized over time that platform startups face three critical points where they make it or break it:
- Seeding: Moving the participating markets in such a way that participants start interacting (e.g. buyers buy from sellers, users interact with each other etc.)
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Ensuring high signal for consumers on the platform without putting constraints on producers (e.g. personalized interfaces and news feeds, community control mechanisms like voting, rating etc.)
- Monetization: Layering monetization on top of interactions without antagonizing any of the participants
The problem, though, is that the strategies that separate the failures from the successes are usually not very evident and often very subtle. Moreover, many of the strategies have their basis NOT in algorithms or business but in network theory, user experience design and sociology. This is because at its core, a platform is people interacting with each other across multiple user interfaces over a network: the internet.
Not much has been written about this. And conventional business strategies don’t easily apply to platforms. That’s why I started writing here to get the message out. Just like every traditional one-sided business, a platform business also has patterns of success and failure and that’s what this blog is all about.
One month down the line, I’d like to thank you for all the feedback and for endorsing and recommending the analysis here. I’d especially value your feedback on a few things to improve what we’re doing here. In that context, I’d really appreciate it if you’d take the survey below. It won’t take more than a couple of minutes.
As I mentioned, this is a collaborative effort. I learn when I work with entrepreneurs who read this blog. And that helps me share back further out here. If there are specific platform/community/marketplace related challenges that you are facing and would like me to write about, please let me know either in the survey above, or in the comments below or by mail.
Thanks so much!