Thinking Again By Cultivating Curiosity - Marketplace Scientists
Updated: Jun 8, 2022
An Excessive Founder's Commitment
As Founders & Entrepreneurs, we have a special duty to continuously solidify and explain our vision for our marketplace to potential or current investors, employees, partners, or anyone willing to listen. It requires us to be highly dedicated to our idea of how we are going to improve the lives of our Users. It requires us to be near stubborn in our future plans for our marketplace, however, the keyword is "near". As Marketplace Founders, it is our responsibility to ask for and accept feedback or criticism and adjust based on the evidence or outcomes we encounter.
There does come a point in time where we can be overly committed to our vision of our marketplace, where we no longer adjust or pivot on our revised plan in fear of losing what we initially created. Perhaps, we can be our own worst debate opponent by cycling through idea after idea that results in an inability to be open, honest, and willing.
If there is clear evidence that you should adjust or tweak a part of your marketplace and you knowingly choose to not heed that advice, you are most likely experiencing Excessive Founder's Commitment.
Marketplace Studio is a group of individuals who have all experience working at a marketplace company in a wide variety of roles ranging from Founders, Product Managers, Product Designers, Heads of Trust & Safety, and of course, Frontend & Backend Developers. We believe that a new perspective on a workflow (feature) is always a good one because it can lead you to something you previously did not know. We are not scientists in the usual definition, we have just adopted the way scientists think and conduct experiments.
Scientists begin with research to craft a hypothesis that creates avenues of possibilities that they will either prove correct or incorrect by supporting evidence.
Basic Foundational Steps:
Observations - Make a point of noticing something about your marketplace.
Hypothesis - Craft a statement based on what you've noticed and form outcomes you believe are possible.
Test & Validate - Analyze the available data or conduct research (User Interviews) to accept, reject, or modify your original hypothesis.
Reproduce - Continue finding new information to review until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory.
Keep It Simple - You Don't Know What You Don't Know
KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) is a term that most people (including myself) need to remember. It is impossible to be knowledgeable on a topic that you simply know nothing about. It takes continuous practice to consistently become curious by nature by being open and willing to seek new information no matter the outcome.
This blog post is about inspiring others to adopt a new way of thinking when it comes to Marketplaces because this will allow us to innovate & evolve resulting in some spectacular social marketplaces that your communities will love.
As Founders, we need to be open to the fact that we simply do not know all of the facts when it comes to our marketplace because there are just too many unknowns. We need to become open to the fact that our marketplace, whether it is in production (people are using it) or if it is still an idea written on a bar napkin will evolve. This is done by asking questions, being willing to accept feedback, iterating, and validating. The more curious you can become and the stronger skills you develop for noticing criticism and adjusting based on evidence will have an outcome you couldn't have seen coming.
Marketplace Studio Will Elevate Your Marketplace
Marketplace Studio recently published a blog post on using Storytelling in our Product Development Process. It is adopted many techniques used in Design Thinking and made adjustments based on evidence. The goal of this marketplace development process is to have an end-result product that has fewer surprises than the original concept or MVP. With every process, there is room for improvements, which is why we are adjusting accordingly based on new information.
We have had clients who are both incredible people and infectious Founders who are spreading the message of how their marketplace is going to change the lives of its community. We begin with the Pre-Development Package which allows us to understand the Founder's Vision of their marketplace, test it, iterate, prototype, and document the workflows and problems they are solving.
In every case, the outcomes are different than the original product they originally described or showed us. The rigorous process we put the marketplace product through helps evolve our & the Founder's thinking by incorporating all of our learnings into a final prototype & technical user stories.
If the Founders would've continued with their original plans, yes, the result could certainly still achieve a high level of User Adoption, but that cannot be said with certainty. Instead, we are listening to the problem they are solving, understanding the target marketplace users, developing a supported product hypothesis, collecting research or conducting user interviews, and making adjustments accordingly.
Always Be Willing To Learn - Especially If You're An "Expert"
In my first marketplace role as a Product Manager, I believed I was an expert on the problem we were solving. Having grown up working at my family’s business in that industry, I thought I knew everything there was to know and what problems to solve with technology. This frame of mind stunted my learning growth and blocked any feedback or criticism from improving our marketplace.
Yes, it was enough to design, develop, and launch an MVP on a bootstrapped budget, but it was not resulting in a high adopting community. It was not until we had a Lunch'N'Learn that a colleague of mine presented on how we should incorporate Design Thinking Sprints into our company, especially in Product & Design. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense, but at the time, I just did not know it existed or I was ignorant.
Within weeks, we implemented Design Thinking Sprints into our Marketplace Product Development Process. We took had leadership buy-in that allowed us to truly take the time required to facilitate, engage, and conduct a proper sprint. Once the feature was released and it "baked" the results were undeniable.
Funnel conversions on our primary workflows literally reversed from converting in the low double digits to the very high, near "Apple-level adoption" metrics. It was incredible to be a part of and see something designed by a team that had no prior experience in that industry have all of the required elements (and more) in a User-Friendly design. It was effective, efficient, and excellent in every way.
This Marketplace Design Thinking Team had shown me that there is always more to learn, especially when you think you know it all.
Asking You To Think Again
I want you to think to yourself if you have any strongly held beliefs on any topic (Business Management, Politics, Vaccines, etc) and ask yourself, what evidence would it take you to think differently and be open to the opposing idea?
I believe that MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) are a thing of the past. Users in present times do not have the tolerance to use a marketplace riddled with bugs or poor User Experience or bad design.
Question: What evidence would make me think differently?
A Founder who is on a tight bootstrapped budget and cannot afford the time or money to design, test, iterate, and develop a robust marketplace platform.
A Marketplace Founder who is creating a no-code MVP with the sole purpose of Beta Testing to collect Product Feedback to later properly develop a robust marketplace platform.
A Founder who needs to get to revenue and show proof points for potential investors to bet on her marketplace.
I believe that if a Marketplace Founder has the resources (Time & Money) to strategically craft a marketplace product hypothesis, test, iterate, and develop, that is the most efficient & effective path to achieving PMF (Product Market Fit) faster.
Let's Work Together To Change Lives
Thank you for taking the time to read this article, I hope some aspects help improve your marketplace and the product you are creating. If you're interested in learning more or scheduling a meeting, please click the button that follows. If you are curious, read Adam Grant's Think Again, it will change everything you believe in.