A Guide For Building, Launching, and Growing a Marketplace Startup

Lessons learned and rules established over 15 years of matching customers with vendors

Joe Procopio
8 min readApr 4, 2022


Digital marketplaces — including two-sided marketplaces, service marketplace platforms, and third-party marketplaces, have exploded in number over the last ten years, and have become way more digitally driven over the last five years.

The barrier to entry for standing up a basic digital service marketplace has fallen dramatically, thanks to no-code/low-code platforms and third-party software services.

But just because marketplaces are easy to start doesn’t mean they’ll be successful.

I’ve been working in 2SMs for well over 15 years. I singlehandedly founded, built, and sold a 2SM called ExitEvent from scratch back in 2013. I’m also head of product at Spiffy, a VC-backed mobile, on-demand vehicle care and maintenance startup.

I’ve built several digital marketplaces and advised at least a dozen more. Here are all the things I wish I knew 15 years ago, updated as I tackle new issues, answer more questions, and advise more startups.

Last Update: 7/31/2023

How To Turn a Service Business Into a Product Startup

What It’s About

It’s no secret that a product company is much more valuable than a service company. It’s why every service provider has that dream about transforming their service into a product.

Action To Take Away

Figure out where and how you can automate. Develop repeatable methodologies for everything else. Package it all in simple-to-understand chunks. And watch out for the killer mistakes.

Turning a Service Business Into a Service Platform Startup



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com