Why Expert Two-Sided Marketplace Startups Rarely Succeed

This is what happens when your “experts” aren’t actually experts

Joe Procopio


When entrepreneurs ask me to review their plans for a two-sided marketplace, there are usually two glaring problems that stand out right away. One: Their marketplace probably doesn’t need to exist. Two: Their supply of providers sucks.

The latter becomes a much bigger problem when the a marketplace aims to match customers with experts.

Expert Two-Sided Marketplaces, or E2SMs, offer customers more than just a quick ride across town (Uber) or handpicked fresh groceries (Instacart). These are services that require a higher level of skill, sometimes a license, certification, or even an advanced degree.

The idea of an E2SM is great. Magic. A good E2SM demystifies a complicated service offering, then acts as a digital concierge to match the customer with exactly the right expert they need, on demand, and at a fair price.

The execution of an E2SM, however, is often lacking. The matching is usually poor, the transaction isn’t easy or timely and, worst of all, the expert isn’t really an expert.

The plague of bogus marketplace experts

I’m intimately familiar with the “expert” problem. I’ve built a number of successful E2SMs, matching customers with investors, coders, writers, marketers, mechanics, and more. I’m building two E2SMs right now, and I’m advising two more.

Recently, I started advising a stealth startup building a highly-skilled expert marketplace in an industry full of bogus expert marketplaces. Now, when I call an expert “bogus,” I don’t mean that they can’t talk shop, what I mean is they have no business parlaying their level of expertise into a marketplace model.

Why marketplace experts often aren’t experts

Building a supply of experts that are truly experts is a lot easier said than done. This is because the vast majority of expert marketplaces settle for a supply pool full of providers that are “just good.”

Just good will kill a marketplace. Quickly and painfully.



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