The search and discovery marketplace 

In my last SaaS+ series article, I covered the six core architectural concepts you need to think about when building a SaaS+ company. There are a number of benefits that come from putting the right building blocks in place from the start and creating a strong core platform.

One major benefit is the option of hosting a search and discovery marketplace. When you’re working with hundreds or thousands of different businesses on a platform, you can leverage all of the information you have to build a search and discovery marketplace.

This is something that is nearly impossible to do unless you have a platform because you would otherwise have to manually input millions of pieces of data. However, if you first onboard businesses as customers to your platform, they’ll constantly update their own information because they’re using your platform to run their business. And then all you need to do is turn on public view so the world can search it.

The benefits of a well-run marketplace are numerous: a far more valuable user experience for your customers, a differentiated product and new revenue streams.

What is a search and discovery marketplace?

A great search and discovery marketplace is the direct result of a B2B relationship. At SportsEngine, one of the early products we considered was a marketplace that would list all available youth sports participation opportunities. What we quickly found out was that it takes an enormous amount of time and money to build a marketplace from scratch, because you’d have to individually gather data from thousands of sources and then keep the information updated on a daily basis.

The benefits of a well-run marketplace are numerous: a far more valuable user experience for your customers, a differentiated product and new revenue streams.

This requires dozens of people who are constantly inputting information or web scraping to find the millions of tournaments, leagues, associations and other youth sports activities that occur every year. And then, the moment you enter the information, it becomes outdated because a tournament date passes, rain out dates occur, etc. It takes an army of people to keep it all up-to-date and it’s very costly, which is why manually generated B2C marketplaces have often failed.

What we eventually figured out is that successful marketplaces almost always exist as a B2B relationship first. Since customers are using your platform to run their business, they’re constantly updating their own information. And then all of that updated data flows out of the core software platform and into the public marketplace. You never have to input any information on your own.

OpenTable is another great example of a marketplace that results from existing B2B relationships. Restaurants use OpenTable to manage their restaurant operations and process reservations, which results in a real-time restaurant reservation marketplace for diners.