How Can a Startup Leverage the Concept of Online Marketplace?

An online marketplace consists of a website or app that facilitates buying from many different businesses. The owner of the marketplace does not own any inventory, their business is to present other people’s inventory to the buyer and facilitate a transaction.

The emergence of online marketplaces such as Airbnb, Uber, and Thumbtack has been one of a fascinating web developments of the last few years. These companies are enabling businesses to offer apartments, cabs or professional services online, overhauling the traditional concept of business.

The reason for the popularity of online marketplaces among people is for economic, lifestyle and personal reasons. People no more have to wave to stop cabs on roads, they can easily book an Uber cab. Yellow Pages is no longer the only option to find service professionals; Thumbtack helps to do that easily.

We will throw light on how you can leverage the concept of online marketplaces by entering into various business verticals to succeed in your venture.


Companies like Amazon, Bonanza, Etsy, and eBay have achieved massive success while running on a marketplace eCommerce business model. The rising internet penetration, rapid adoption of technology, ease of shopping, rising standards of living and most importantly doorstep product delivery with Cash On Delivery (COD) payment option are the major forces behind the growth of e-commerce marketplaces in India, making this model attractive for startups.

Ground Transportation

The ‘sharing economy’ helps in connecting people who want to share assets online with others. Through a marketplace, someone who isn’t using his car can rent it to people who are in need of it.

A marketplace therefore connects drivers offering rides and passengers seeking them online. The company does not own cars, but enables private drivers willing to provide rides to paying passengers and passes passengers’ request for the ride directly to them. Some of the well-known examples of this model include Uber, Lyft, Didi Chuxing and JustPark.

Travel & Accommodation

Airbnb is a famous marketplace in the travel and accommodation industry for people to list, discover, and book accommodation around the world. This platform helps travelers to see a city as a local does and lets hosts become ambassadors, helping make ends meet using their underutilized assets. There are other vacation rental businesses too like Homestay, Wimdu, 9Flats who have created and driven the emergence of the short-term rental market. This industry is attracting huge investments from startups seeing the success of the players.


Customers looking for professionals are turning to marketplaces instead of looking in Yellow Page or other online directories. Skilled workers are also registering on this platform to fulfill the demands of the customers. Services marketplace cater to the requirements of service professionals located in a particular location, making it easy for people to search, book and make payments. Some of the major players include TaskRabbit, Thumbtack and Handy.


The freelancing industry is growing rapidly, with more and more money being poured into the mix. There is an increasing trend in hiring freelancers for the projects among companies. These online marketplaces help companies find professionals at cost-effective rates. Some of the examples include Freelancer, Fiverr, Upwork, which enable businesses and freelancers connect with each other across the world. These marketplaces make money by charging fees on every successful project completed along with earning from featured projects.


Classified websites have a bright future as more and more people are using internet to search for products and services locally. Earlier classifieds were restricted only to print media and were a hassle for users. With the introduction of marketplaces like Craiglist, users can search for products available for sale and even list what they want to sell for free. This marketplace can earn in form of listings fees, helping sellers get more coverage through the featured listing. They can even earn through contextual ads for large advertisers via Google AdSense.


Live entertainment is on the rise with millennials getting more experience-oriented. This has given boost to the marketplaces like Eventbrite allowing users to book tickets for various events. This marketplace serves two customer segments, the first one is event organizers looking to increase the visibility of their event and the other is individuals who wish to attend such events. A revenue model where event organizers are charged a fixed amount on the tickets sold can be adopted in this industry.


Graphic design marketplace provides opportunity to graphic designers to sell their graphics designs online, including web elements, hand illustrations, vectors, clipart, fonts, themes, and more to the users simply and conveniently. The revenue is generated by the sale of design work provided by the companies, the platform charging a certain percentage or fixed amount of commission. As a startup, you can target designers primarily freelancers, wishing to find jobs with clients, companies who wish to get design solutions and agencies that are looking to outsource design work. Some of the well-known examples of this marketplace include 99Designs, DesignCrowd, CrowdSpring, etc.

Food & Delivery

This marketplace consists of two customer segments, first the consumers who want to make restaurants reservations online or get the food delivered and second the service providers. Some of the renowned players in this segment are Foodspotting, OpenTable, Zomato, etc. They enable consumers to search for restaurants and reservations on the website using parameters like dates, time, price range, cuisine etc.

A budding entrepreneur wishing to enter into on-demand logistics or food delivery startup and establish a business like DoorDash and can earn revenues in the form of commission on each order delivered. You can also earn through restaurant advertising on this platform.


Online marketplaces have thus made lives simpler, helping people complete tasks more easily and quickly and making it attractive for startups to adopt this business model. Startups are realizing that these marketplaces are becoming too big an opportunity to miss. They are challenging industry incumbents with new business models and varied ways of engaging customers.

As a startup, you too can connect consumers with service providers by leveraging technology. This model will help you engage customers effectively and make business operations more efficient.

If you are a startup planning to start your online marketplace business, you might love reading this Beginner’s Guide for Startup to Kick-start an Online Marketplace that provides resourceful insights on how to start an online marketplace quickly and hassle-free.

Don’t think much as this is the right time to put your best foot forward and leverage the benefits of this platform!

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