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The Highs and Lows of Scaling a Marketplace...Super Fast

by Karim Tabet Jalbout, Adam Quint | July 20, 2016

At our recent TechBunker dinner, we met with leaders from the biggest UK marketplaces and aggregators (Airbnb, Amazon, Bookatable, easyfundraising, eBay, Farfetch, MoneySuperMarket, Rightmove, Uber and Worldpay) to talk about how to effectively scale a pure play business.

Here are the sound bites:

Scaling Internationally. Go faster by rolling out a well-tested playbook. Centralize some functions but make sure to hire locally to drive effective local execution. Don’t drop someone in from another market and expect that person to deliver great plans that stick with consumers.

The Product Function. It’s hard to find great product talent, especially since the function is still being defined. Even the best product leaders come with spikes in different areas, whether that be UI, UX, or more of a marketing or technology bias. Driving an agile development process is the norm, but it’s important that development teams commit to target delivery dates and understand the business value of their timely delivery. And don’t over-rely on AB testing — strike a balance between being data driven and bold in trying new things. Sometimes, it’s more effective to make early decisions by relying on common sense or our own gut feelings as consumers.

The Right Culture. A strong culture can be the key to trusting your talent to get on and do things as your business scales. It reduces the need for processes. Motivate your teams around a shared vision — even more so than financial targets or volume metrics, which are actually less relevant drivers for most people. Create a culture that allows you to reward and nurture talent differently based on the role people play and their definition of success — not everyone wants a promotion with more leadership responsibility.