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Build a Successful Marketplace Business with Juho Makkonen, Sharetribe

August 2, 2023

Building an online marketplace platform is easy, but building a successful marketplace business that stands the test of time is another story. In today’s episode, we get to hear from Juho Makkonen as he dives deep into the ins and outs of marketplace business models, from developing your idea into a fully functional marketplace platform to achieving balanced and sustainable business growth.

About Juho Makkonen:

Juho Makkonen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sharetribe, an innovative software company. This company aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs get their marketplace businesses off the ground in the spirit of sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb, Etsy, and Fiverr.

Moreover, as a co-author of “The Lean Marketplace,” Juho equips aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners with indispensable insights to build successful online marketplaces, whether they are startups, cooperatives, non-profits, or established brands, offering a practical roadmap for creating sustainable and thriving businesses in the sharing economy.

For a comprehensive book review, check out this page.

Building your own marketplace business

The sharing economy giants like Airbnb and Etsy are a testament to the enormous potential of online marketplace businesses. These companies all use online platforms to eliminate the middleman and connect buyers and sellers. But contrary to popular belief, building an online marketing place is actually quite easy; it doesn’t require any coding knowledge whatsoever, especially with the help of software companies like Sharetribe.

On the other hand, building a successful online marketplace business is another story. It takes a lot of time, patience, and trial and error. You need to be ready to work on yourself, grow as your company grows, and constantly learn from other experts in the field. As long as you’re committed to your mission, your marketplace business will have a chance in the increasingly saturated market.

You might not be the next Uber, but you can certainly build a profitable business that serves the community and stands the test of time.

Episode highlights:

  • Not all entrepreneurs are tech-savvy coders, so it’s important to make marketplace building accessible to everyone and help them turn their ideas into a reality. (02:35)
  • Prioritizing between purpose and profits is not easy, especially in the competitive market of today. But companies like Sharetribe are still choosing to do so by democratizing the platform ownership and making a great impact. (09:40)
  • It’s very much possible to build a profitable business that serves the community, which doesn’t have to be a unicorn or the next big thing, as long as it helps solve a problem. (25:30)
  • The goal of marketplace businesses is to eliminate the middleman and bring buyers and sellers together. So, by taking care of the technology aspect of online marketplaces, we’re actually democratizing platform ownership. (31:15)
  • Building platforms is easy, but if you don’t have the necessary knowledge and a strong team by your side, then it becomes much more challenging. (34:01)

Juho’s best advice for entrepreneurs:

“I also always want to remind that it’s so much more than just tech. I think that, actually, tech is probably not the most difficult part of this type of business. The most difficult part is kind of like solving the so-called chicken and egg problem, like the supply-demand conundrum, and we have lots of educational resources on that.” (34”01)

Connect with Juho:

Resources Mentioned:

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Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links in this episode are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Rest assured, we only promote products/services we believe will benefit your entrepreneurial journey.

Transcript

A.J. Lawrence: I am fascinated by what you’re doing with Sharetribe just because going back to the early days of the internet But then also into the early noughts, I’ve invested into different types of companies snap goods and things like that. There are the known cases, the eBays, the Zipcars, and a few others, but very few have broken through and made a long going existence.

But Sharetribe’s been around for a bit, and I would just love to learn more about sort of how you came about it and then you where is it going now? Just right off the bat because what you’re doing is so cool. Sorry, I’m going to fanboy a bit here.

Juho Makkonen: Yeah, definitely. Happy to share a bit. We started our journey 2011, but even a bit before that, already in 2008 in a research project when nobody was even talking about the whole sharing economy thing. And that’s where we, me and my co-founder Antti, built our first peer-to-peer sharing economy marketplace. And at that point, it was just this thing for the campus students to borrow stuff from each other and kind of offer some small services and sell their old course books.

But then at some point, when people started talking about the sharing economy and Airbnb would become big and so on, we realized that, hey, maybe this actually would be part of a bigger phenomenon and maybe we could start a company around this and help the whole world share our vision and probably vision of thousands of other entrepreneurs at the time.

We had our own marketplace in the beginning, but actually quite soon we ended up pivoting from that, in 2013-2014. We realized that maybe actually what this industry that is pretty nascent seems to need and what is not there yet is actually a tool that helps other people to create these platforms. Because there were so many entrepreneurs and lots of them were struggling with tech and they didn’t have that much money. So they were like, okay, so I first spent my first year just trying to get funding so I can build this platform. And only then I realized that my idea was wrong and then I already had spend all my money and I had no more time to pivot.

So our thinking then was, okay, it should be possible for somebody to launch not in one year but in one day. And that’s what we then ended up building. And then we launched in 2014 our no-code builder that helps you build and launch a marketplace website yourself in one day.

A.J. Lawrence: Well, okay. You started this off for students. I just think that’s so cool because I’m watching my son go off to university next year and we’ve been researching St. Andrews in Scotland and they have kind of these sharing festivals where people bring things up. I love the concept that you built this originally off of a digital way of doing that. You evolved, you saw the marketplace change so 2014, you build an early no-code.

It seems so simple nowadays when you talk about no-code, but that was huge. Yes, not quite 10 years ago. But how has it changed? Like, where are you now as an entrepreneur? Because Sharetribe has grown so much. It’s now a global company. How do you see yourself as an entrepreneur these days?

Juho Makkonen: Yeah. Where do I start? Quite a few things have changed. Obviously, I’ve learned a lot more about myself as an entrepreneur and what are the goals and what do I want to do as a person, what do I want to do with this company? And that’s kind of like what this company is all about. That has changed a lot.

So well, first on the product side, we actually went to maybe a bit different direction than the whole no-code curve that is all the hype. When we started this no-code product, nobody else was really talking about no-code. And other people said to us that, hey, no, you really cannot build proper website without coding or like a proper marketplace application. That is so complex.

So nobody else was doing that at the time. What we did discover for sure was that we were able to build this tool that would allow people to launch quickly. But then at some point, they would always hit this kind of like a limit that, okay, so now I actually want to make this change and they were not able to do that with our initial tool.

So then we actually ended up going into a direction where we built this powerful developer platform on top of that. So today, basically you can launch really quickly with Sharetribe and you can validate your idea. But when it’s working and then you know that, okay, now this is the direction I need to maybe pivot slightly. I need to add this and that and this is the feedback I’m getting from my users.

Then you can actually start doing custom development on top of that developer platform to basically build the unique product that every marketplace business ultimately needs at the point where they are starting to be really successful. And that has been kind of like our big thing. And we are still actually working towards streamlining that whole experience of the transitioning basically from that.

You’re still able to start super quickly, but then you can really scale to any size. And this has been only a relatively recent thing that we are really starting to have customers who have raised millions and millions of funding and who have grown to bigger size. It’s funny, we have some customers who have grown to way bigger size than we are today, who started with us as two non-technical founders with an idea. And that has been maybe the most nicest thing about this journey is to see those stories.

A.J. Lawrence: Cool. You create a platform, but that’s the company. Obviously, that type of journey from building that being adaptive to the marketplace, growing something that allows the type of growth on top of you is a highly complex, very difficult pathway. I mean, yes, in hindsight, you get to say, oh, and we did this and it kind of happened and yeah, okay, great.

But you as an entrepreneur, I mean the things you have had to have done to be able to allow that, that’s pretty impressive. What do you think has changed the most as what you are as an entrepreneur now compared to just when you did start this for other people, this platform on no- code? What has changed the most for you?

Juho Makkonen: That’s a really good question. One really big change actually is that I and my co-founder have both really reflected a lot on our own goals and like, what do you really want this business ultimately to be? And while it kind of like was there all along, I think it has really clarified that what we really care about is a really big impact.

And specifically, when we say impact, we talk about our mission of really democratizing the platform ownership and making it possible for anybody, like all the early stage founders with very small budgets, to build these platforms. And we have actually made some choices that have made us a smaller company than we could be if we would have very much just focused on becoming super big, business wise.

For instance, there are some other players in our market who saw that, okay, actually, the biggest market is in serving like enterprise so helping them build really big marketplaces. And we just didn’t want to do that even though we kind of saw that. Yeah, there’s more money to be made there, but we kind of did want to go there. And we realized that what we want is to build good business. We want to build a sustainable business. But becoming a unicorn company, for example, it actually is not a priority. Apriority for us is to build something that we actually believe in. And we think that this is actually doing some good for the world and having a big impact.

A.J. Lawrence: Well, okay. You’re in Finland and I think Finland is one of the most amazing startup environments on the planet that doesn’t get talked about because it has the highest per capita entrepreneurial base. And I don’t want to make any assumptions of this, but as Americans where we’re raised on capitalism, capitalism. America is kind of fading from, I think, a lot of the true tenets of capitalism and we’re becoming whatever. I won’t go down political rants. But what you’re talking about is a very interesting type of decision base and many entrepreneurs focus on just the least path of resistance around revenue growth.

A little bit more you were talking about like you wanted to work with smaller companies because you felt it would do more good. But how did you see one, see that more good? And how did that change what you had to do in building the company?

Juho Makkonen: One really big change that actually happened was- because another thing that we really discovered at some point is that we don’t want an exit. And this is what people had taught to us in startup school and in a bootcamp as we went through, that okay, what you do is that you start a company then you run it for five to seven years. Then you sell it or take it public and then you move the next thing.

We realized we actually just want to do this thing and we want to be independent. So we also kind of realized that we want to have our destiny in our own hands. And that also meant that the venture capital and round after round path wasn’t for us.

We did raise like a two rounds of venture capital in the beginning of our journey. But in 2018, we actually ended up making a change in our company structure that basically makes our company non-sellable. So that was a pretty significant move. And it basically puts all the voting power back into the hands of the people who work at the company. And at that point, we did a crowdfunding round where we collected money and a big part of that money came from our customers all over the world.

More than 400 people from 42 countries, and then they will eventually get their money back from our profits. And we used a big part of that money to actually buy back the shares from our venture investors, because we realized that, sorry, actually we are not going to be offering you this big exit by like selling ourselves to a bigger company. We are going to do this independent and long term. And that to me, is still the best single decision that we made like five years in.

A.J. Lawrence: Well, okay, because this is fascinating. This is something that I think is becoming more part of the discussion, but still a small part of the discussion around the entrepreneurial journey. Because I agree with you completely. I made choices back in the noughts, into the early teens, when I sold my company, because that was the ongoing thing. It’s exit or burn.

But the idea of having a legitimate, growing, important company, as Sharetribe is or in its ecosystem, it was grow or die. And I think that has changed, that kind of thought process, and I hear from more and more entrepreneurs. It’s like, well, I have something good and there’s this tension around the grow and that extra sort of structure organization stuff versus just doing where they are really good and realizing, yes, there’s risk and all that.

So how did you come to that? I mean, I just want to keep pushing down on that because I think a lot of entrepreneurs face this. They just don’t know the framework of which to even think about it.

Juho Makkonen: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Obviously, first we need to talk about why would we do such a thing and why did it become important for us? And they were kind of like, well, part of that was just that when we ourselves really realized that we want to be independent and we don’t want to sell and we just really like what we are doing and it seems like a great workplace and we want to be here. That was part of that.

Another part was also that the more time we spend in the sharing economy, we kind of like also saw that sometimes when companies raise lots of venture capital, then kind of like stuff happens. Like if you read the story of Uber, let’s say that’s not just all the good things that Uber has done for the world. But there would be lots of people that argue that actually that came with a host of problems and those problems are way more difficult to address if you have raised lots of venture capital and you have that pressure to keep that exponential growth curve.

And we just really didn’t want that to be our story. That just didn’t seem attractive for us. And then this came concretized when we came to time that we realized we do need one more round of funding to get to a level where we are sustainable. And we realized that if now we are going to go to VCs and we are going to raise another round of funding, then there’s no turning back from that path because then we’ve given up too much of the company.

And then that was when we heard about this new way of structuring. There was this organization that was developing that in Germany, and then we started learning more and they were like, hey, this is the thing that we should go be going with.

A.J. Lawrence: So did the way that you were running the company because yes, and I could agree completely. Having sat on board meetings specifically on the sharing company, I know that got blown up. It was the large investors and later rounds who really were demanding a growth profile that didn’t fit the environment, but that was the case.

When you saw that there was this crowdfunding and there was this opportunity, do you find that you had to also change? Now that you’ve gone to sort of a sustainable long term but also a profit sharing, you’re now building with equity stakeholders, it seems more like than you are with investors.

So how do you had to manage that change? Are you looking to also focus on different parts of the company growth for the longer term? What’s that been like for you?

Juho Makkonen: In the end, that part changed like surprisingly little. But that was maybe because like already earlier, we had been very kind of mission driven. And also I have to say that we had really nice investors who had really kind of like believed in, okay, we give you money and we are here for advice if you need it and otherwise we let you do your own thing and we trust that you did the right thing. And that’s why we were also happy that we were able to buy them back and offer them some profit for their investment too when we realized that, okay, our path was no longer aligned with what they wanted in that sense.

But that kind of like really helped and I think that the team we had built, most of the team, kind of actually stayed at that point. So nobody, for instance, left because of this transition. I think that we had managed to recruit people who shared the same values in the sense that pretty for our team, this was actually, hey, this is really great. Like this is how a company should be built. And if anything, that has really increased the retention in the team.

And already at that point, we were building this in a way where really the whole team is involved quite a lot in thinking about how things should be built and how decisions should be made. And then we just basically been going even more in that direction.

A.J. Lawrence: Okay, were you including the team in doing that? Those are difficult things. And I know as someone who spent years trying to do that better. How I did it at first, where I thought would work, really didn’t work until I spent more time understanding and learning and kind of getting better at incorporating the team into the company, not just sort of going, hey. What helped you be able to adapt and bring everyone into that process?

Juho Makkonen: That’s a good question. I guess somehow what probably helped us that we somehow had this instinct from the very beginning. I’ve maybe also like realized that somehow I’ve always like preferred a workplace where there’s this feeling of peers. So I don’t want to be anybody to be above me or maybe also like that.

Obviously, there are power relationships and they don’t go away. And even if you have kind of like a self managing, self organizing organization, you still still need to manage that and we acknowledge that and you need structure for that. Actually, I would argue that you need more structure if you operate without the traditional management hierarchy.

We do have some of that, but there are some things that we just don’t have that the more traditional hierarchy has. And I think that you actually need to have more structure and clearer structure and then how decisions are made, how conflicts are resolved. But luckily also there has been like really lots of progress over the past 10 years.

There has been lots of other companies that have shown as example. There are books and there are others to learn from. And I’ve also done my share of learning from other people who have done that. And then we’ve been just gradually developing our own processes. It also helped that we were on a more gradual growth path so we were doubling our head count every quarter because if you do that, then it’s a lot more.

A.J. Lawrence: Yeah, it is a frustrating/bad thing with a very small violin. You get to play that fast growth actually reduces your options to create the type of company you want or that you feel is right. And I’m interested in this type of process because yes, there was the whole movement 10+ years ago, Halo-

Juho Makkonen: Holacracy, I think.

A.J. Lawrence: Yes. And there was so much great stuff and I remember being fascinated by it, but then hearing almost every instance of it kind of blowing up. It’s like once a team got past that typical group of like 15 people, no one seemed to have had that good experience. But as you said, I’ve seen variations, I’ve seen pieces, I’ve seen different things. And matter of fact, I saw that Sharetribe has the lean sharing methodology out there. So it was really pretty interesting out there. Also, what are you using to evolve this? Because I know some entrepreneurs look at EOS, different types of things, OKR structures. And how did you put this together? How are you pulling these things together to create a structure, but a more flexible structure to what Sharetribe and your leadership needs?

Juho Makkonen: Yeah. I guess in our case, we explored some frameworks. I’ve read the Holacracy book, I’ve read the Reinventing Organizations and like the Teal Organizations and all this stuff, what we concluded though is that it’s a really good idea to listen to all kinds of advice but don’t believe any of that or don’t take any of that just as is. But really just try to understand who you are, who are the people you are working with, and what works for them. And then if there’s some piece of that advice that fits into your specific context, then adapt that and then just experiment. And then change if something is not working.

So that’s what we have been doing. We have been taking on different practices and then seeing how this works with the general principle that, still, people can be trusted. And that’s kind of like a good starting point that that has worked really well for us. But then if you realize that, okay, here, if you just let people do their own thing, now something would break. Then at that point, that’s probably the sign that now you need to create a clear structure here to help people navigate that. And that’s been the journey.

I think the way we operate is very much our own style. It has maybe some bits and pieces here and there, but it’s not any specific framework that we follow that would be used in other companies.

A.J. Lawrence: You, a lot of times, reference co-founder or co-founders. Sorry, I just want to clarify that, your partner.

Juho Makkonen: Yes, definitely. So actually there were two co-founders, Antti and Niklas. Niklas decided pretty early on, I think year and a half in, that he actually wanted to do a different path and then he went on to actually study programming. And I know he’s a founder of another startup. We are in really good terms, but me and Antti were kind of like the original two people behind the idea and like, so we are still both around.

A.J. Lawrence: You’re the OGs. You’re the OGs at Share. But you’ve talked a lot about the work that the two of you have done together in the type of the understanding of how you approach things, the mission you are on, and also the goals that you’re setting, how long have you known each other first? Did you know each other before?

Juho Makkonen: Yeah, yeah, we were really close friends at the time when we started the company. To me, at least, [it] was a really important thing that I knew at all times that if I would have to choose between our friendship and the company, then I would choose our friendship.

That to me felt like a really good starting point because then we kind of knew that we had this relationship based on this trust. We can tell each other everything, including if you really feel that, okay, this is not going to work and now we need to need to shut this thing down and so our biggest worries and so on.

Because I believe every entrepreneur knows that it can be really lonely, especially if you are kind of like the founder, CEO. I’ve never really had that in the same way because I really felt that we’ve always been able to be really talk to each other about everything. And that part has really worked well and that is a very crucial thing.

I still feel that I’m not a person who would be able to start a big company just on my own without a co-founder at all. So I still feel that that seems like an important part for me psychologically, that you have other people to rely on and naturally then after that, other people have come like who we’ve hired. But still, that founder relationship I feel is super important.

A.J. Lawrence: From the way you’ve described the different efforts and that journey, I love that you use that and it just resonated with some of the things I’m thinking of doing. But that idea of one of the north stars it seems you’ve created, not for the company but between your working relationship is friendship or not. And I think having those types of north star are really powerful because things do get complex and things are a little crazy when you’re trying to grow a business and having that. And I think so easily understood, it’s like when you, Oh, we need to grow by X, Y, and Z.

It’s like trying to balance ethical questions on growing by 10% is nothing. But balancing it against the value of your friendship is pretty straightforward. And I think it is that like, oh, okay. I think that is really interesting that you’ve done that and you’ve built then this company that seems to have extended from that concept again and again.

When you look forward, you are growing this for the long term. Where would you like to see it go further?

Juho Makkonen: Yeah, I definitely do think that today still I feel that our impact is relatively small. So still most of the transactions happening in the online marketplaces of the world today happen in those couple of few really big player, most of them which are based in Silicon Valley.

And we still think that ultimately what determines our success if at some point we are at a world where there are way more local niche focused platforms run by entrepreneurs around the world that are actually successful, sustainable, and hopefully a significant portion of the world’s marketplace transactions would happen through those platforms.

And that’s what we want to enable and be there. When you look at that mission that way, then there’s kind of like an infinite room for growth. But at the same time, we just really want that to be balanced growth and not like growth on all costs.

A.J. Lawrence: Well, to be able to do that, keep that balance, growth but not for all sakes, being sustainable, how do you think you will need to grow as an entrepreneur to be able to continue shepherding that?

Juho Makkonen: That is a really good question. And I guess that the entire time, we have been balancing this that’s kind of like should we be growing faster and should we be doing the right thing? But kind of like feel that right now, we have also like managed to pick somehow the right focus that if you are really clear about the vision and the direction that you don’t want to be, in our case that’s really like we want to make this technology accessible to everybody.

In the end, the product strategy and the concrete choices that you make, they kind of like start flowing from that mission. Because then we’re like, okay, so probably we don’t build this enterprise feature because that just isn’t part of our mission or we actually built this feature that makes it a lot cheaper for our customers to launch a marketplace in this country because, well, people really need more affordable solution there.

Then it just kind of like goes in a way, like hand in hand so that it’s more like the business side of things is that we need to be sustainable so we need to be profitable. So that’s kind of like the thing. And then you just focus on growing the impact. But so that we stay profitable as a company because we need to be profitable. That somehow seems to work nicely.

A.J. Lawrence: It’s a very difficult tension, but a very powerful one that sort of, oh yeah, we want to keep going, but profitability and the variances in so many businesses is very difficult.

Let’s kind of talk more about what you think is possible from it and who are to you the most interesting type of people who look at Sharetribe to build a sharing economy business on? What’s interesting to you?

Juho Makkonen: Yeah, I guess one nice thing here is that we are really building this product ultimately for people like us and maybe specifically also people who have like a bit similar mindset than us, obviously people who are entrepreneurs.

Our entire audience is entrepreneurs, but also quite often specifically entrepreneurs who want to build the business in a certain way. Naturally, there are people who want to build the next unicorn and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are also plenty of people who would just say that, okay, I want to serve this community. I want to solve this problem. I know this is not going to be a huge, huge business but it’s going to be a really good profitable business that solves an actual problem for an important group of people. And I’m passionate about that and I want to build a business like that. And those are the people who we are really excited about working with.

A.J. Lawrence: Are there any types that you think are really cool right now that you think maybe the audience would flash some ideas off of?

Juho Makkonen: Yeah. So naturally, if you think about the types of marketplaces, we made some conscious choices. So we kind of focused a bit less on the more traditional e-commerce and specifically so we don’t really have marketplaces that would be like Amazon where they would be like big retailers just shipping lots of stuff from the inventory.

We are really all about these peer-to-peer rental platforms or then various service platforms, even in the style of Uber and so on. Or then more like Etsy style platforms where there are kind of like makers and their goods and so on. And then actually the eBay, the resale and so on.

And in all those categories, I’m actually coming back to a point that you mentioned earlier, which was that there was this boom of the sharing economy and all these companies and they all said they’re going to be the next unicorn. And then what people ended up realizing is that actually there were only a handful of ideas that were big enough to become unicorns.

And I think all of those pretty much have been done now. But at the same time, many of those ideas, when you kind of remove the need to raise that 10 million round and then justify that, then you realize that there is still that opportunity exists to build a really good small to medium sized business out of that. And that’s kind of like the thing that we are seeing. It’s many of those ideas about those niche, whether it’s about surfboard rental or tool rental or this type of like Airbnb for hunting grounds or Airbnb for swimming pools or Airbnb for cars. And we have this type of idea and we see them succeed. And we see them succeed in a level that might not be enough for like Andreessen Horowitz, but it’s well enough to build a solid business.

A.J. Lawrence: I think those are cool ideas that just yes, that niche, they bring so much joy when you find them and you can use them, but yes, it’s not going to be a billion dollar business. And I think that’s what’s so interesting to find. Well, what type of communities do you think are going to grow that you would like to see now start happening?

Juho Makkonen: Yeah. One big thing was COVID, which made more people realize that actually it’s still nice to interact with people in real life too and made many people miss that. But at the same time, it also taught people that they are still lots of things that you can do without the physical interaction. And I think that that also opened up a whole world of opportunities when it comes to, for instance, what type of online education or online services and this type of things. And that’s something that we have been seeing a lot more.

For instance, all this kind of like a peer-to-peer teaching or like suddenly many of the things that you want, you can actually get virtually. Definitely somehow, maybe after COVID, the trend is no longer as strong, but that was at least one really big thing and I still think that it’s going to accelerate.

Like when you meet people in the physical world, it’s probably kind of like should be because you want to connect with those specific people and then doing things virtually opens so many different worlds in what kind of communities you can engage with and what kind of things you can do with them.

A.J. Lawrence: And to do a broad assumption, even just some of the examples you’re talking about, there are players in there that are very hierarchical like tutoring, the online teaching environment. And you see where there are some players that when you search for it, they’re there but they are so underpaying the providers because they’re building their unicorn. And you don’t get the great service because yes, COVID, and I lived in Spain with American kids, so we were constantly trying to find online tutoring and support and education opportunities and it was this very difficult and the quality was very hit or miss.

Yet a platform, if they were building it more to be a more open marketplace where they were not trying to own the whole transaction, the relationship, and more just supply the connection, it allows for a better outcome I believe for everyone. And that’s what I find so fascinating by platforms like Sharetribe because it allows for that better relationship between the parties involved in an interaction, not the middleman where I think too much of and great.

There are some great companies built out of it and some I use daily, but too often the whole idea of the Internet is over time to dismediate the middleman and little by little make that transaction layer smaller and smaller. But I just am fascinated by this idea that you are building this company that allows people to create opportunities for the parties involved in either side to have better relationships. And it’s just not something people think, but once they see it, they’re like, wow, that makes so much sense.

Juho Makkonen: Definitely. Maybe just a quick word about DAOs because indeed this is maybe another trend that at least we have been seeing more and more signs of. Overall, I think that this question of ownership when it comes to these platforms, it’s very interesting thing. And I think constantly people are paying more attention to this, who owns the algorithms, who owns the data and so on. And should that actually be owned even in some cases by the users themselves?

And I think this is something that I find very interesting and we see this coming from multiple different directions, both kind of like from the old tech and the new tech. So the new tech there would be like blockchain and DAOs and you use blockchain to kind of like build this. But then there’s also like old stuff, just like let’s say there’s a cooperative of cleaners who are like, okay, let’s just actually use this platform to just take our thing on our own hand so we don’t need a boss. We just need a platform through which we operate and people can book us directly and the money flows back to the people who are kind of providing the service are also people who own the platform.

So there are multiple different ways of doing that and I think that that’s a really interesting trend that at least like we hope to be able to facilitate more. Because I think that that is definitely, in my opinion, something that would work better for the people using these platforms of the world.

A.J. Lawrence: Juho, I would love maybe at a future date for you to dive deeper into that because yes, I geek out around this and you live this world and I do think it is one of the things that we’re looking at so much. But the concept of ownership, of that ability to interact, is so we’re kind of all grumbling because this is the way the platforms are. But this is the fun of tech. What was yesterday is not always going to be tomorrow and disruption is the natural order, not the thing.

It’s just you can’t plan for it. So I love that in your own way, as you push, you are a radical in the marketplace by doing this nice, straightforward, good company. And that’s, I think, a powerful thing to see.

Look, if an entrepreneur is interested in evaluating it, looking at their environment, seeing if there’s a way to bring community or if this is just an idea straight off the top, how best can someone learn first about Sharetribe and then more about what you’re doing?

Juho Makkonen: Yeah. First of all, at Sharetribe, I think that we have built our product with the idea that the best way to learn that is just to explore. You can get started for free in a couple of minutes. You have a working marketplace up and running.

And then there’s just very intuitive wizards that will guide you and they will be like, okay, what’s the thing that you are building? And then like, based on that, you can configure that. And that is a very straightforward process. So if you have an idea that you think is some kind of like a platform or a marketplace, then I definitely encourage you to just go to check sharetribe.com and try it out for yourself.

And actually I also always want to remind that this it’s so much more than just tech like buildin. I think that actually tech is probably not the most difficult part of this type of business. The most difficult part is solving the so-called chicken and egg problem, like the supply demand conundrum. And we have lots of educational resources on that.

I’ve even written a book called The Lean Marketplace, which you referred to earlier, which is basically it’s almost like a methodology that we have developed on how do you actually get started with this type of business and what are the different steps for actually turning it into a business success. Because building platforms is easy, but if you don’t actually get anybody to use that then it’s not really worth anything, all the tech that you have.

A.J. Lawrence: Well, we’ll make sure that we have links to Sharetribe, obviously, and to The Lean Marketplace book in the show notes. Besides looking on LinkedIn, can they find you on Twitter or anywhere like that?

Juho Makkonen: Yes, you can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/Kusti. Also nowadays on Mastodon, which I probably have some trouble remembering my nick, but you can find it from my Twitter bio. So if you’re not a fan of what Twitter is doing these days, I’m also on Mastodon. I always try to mention that these days.

A.J. Lawrence: Well, look, Juho, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming on the show. I really enjoyed and there’s so much I’ve learned here today. And I know the audience will be very fascinated by diving into Sharetribe and what’s possible, but also just in the way that you and your partner have built this for the long term and just the thought process you put into that. So thank you so much for coming on today.

Juho Makkonen: Yeah. Thanks a lot for having me. This was a lot of fun. So I really, really enjoyed our conversation. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

A.J. Lawrence: Cool. I’m really happy about that.

Well, everyone, thank you so much for listening to another episode. Like I said, we’ll have lots of stuff in the show notes about this, but this is an area of the economy I think is so much more for us to explore and it’s so much that I really geek out around. So please, I really hope you enjoyed it.

All right, everyone, if you enjoyed the episode today, please share it with someone you think would also learn from this. Send it off to them, have them listen, you can lock them down, force them. No. Just ask them to listen to this and tell them to subscribe so that way I can have other really cool entrepreneurs like Juho come on the show.

All right. Have a wonderful day and I’ll talk with you soon. Goodbye.

This episode of Beyond 8 Figures is over, but your journey as an entrepreneur continues. So if we can help you with anything, please just let us know. And if you liked this episode, please share it with someone who might learn from it. Until next time, keep growing and find the joy in your journey. This is A.J., and I’ll be talking to you soon. Bye bye.

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