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.

Good luck!

Answered 7 months ago

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