Four platform startups to watch — and why their model works
Platform businesses, where large numbers of people can connect to each other, have seen strong growth over the past decade. But increasingly, consumers and businesses are turning to one type of platform — marketplaces — to shop online.
In 2021, the world’s top online marketplaces sold $3.23 billion in the goods.
Although they share characteristics, there is no single model that can guarantee success. Luke Trayfoot, chief revenue officer at payment platform provider MANGOPAY, explains that platform marketplaces can be divided into three categories: consumer-to-consumer (C2C), business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). .
So what are some of the platform startups that are doing well and what are the reasons for their success?
Beebs is a C2C marketplace for children’s products. Parents can buy and sell up to 400 different categories of items, including second-hand clothes, toys and school supplies for children up to 14 years old. Launched in November 2020, the Beebs application is available in Belgium and France, and now hosts more than one million users.
“If you want to scale and onboard thousands and thousands of vendors…you need to make sure it’s done in a way that’s not only manageable for the platform, but enhances the seller experience”
CEO and co-founder Morgan Hilmi said he plans to expand across Europe over the next few years as the cost of living crisis will put additional pressure on parents’ wallets.
“Children’s items involve high purchase frequency and rather short product usage,” he told Sifted. “For an increasing number of parents, it is becoming obvious to start selling things that their children no longer use or need in order to optimize their budget. Selling becomes as natural as buying for our users.
For this reason, Beebs has created a unique onboarding process for users, regardless of their immediate need. Users complete a short survey, which identifies products that parents might be interested in purchasing. The app then prompts users to sell as their child grows. This means buyers can become sellers – and vice versa – with no extra effort.
Trayfoot says good onboarding is key to retention. For the majority of platforms, this should be a straightforward process, as buyers and sellers of small items don’t have to get bogged down in transmitting large amounts of personal data.
For B2B platforms, where larger purchases are made and regulations are stricter, the onboarding process becomes more intensive. Trayfoot suggests delayed onboarding — requiring an increasing amount of data throughout the seller’s journey, to the point where funds are withdrawn — as a way to slowly onboard larger accounts onto a platform.
“If you want to scale and you’re onboarding thousands and thousands of vendors, on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, you need to make sure it’s done in a way that’s not only manageable for the platform, but enhances the seller’s experience,” he says.
French fintech Finfrog offers a more affordable alternative to overdraft. The platform is a mix of peer-to-peer and B2C, and uses open banking to assess a customer’s suitability for applying for credit.
“Unlike traditional e-commerce sites, [marketplaces] have very specific needs in terms of managing their payment flows”
Finfrog says it was the first platform in France to assess customer finances using this method, and peer-to-peer lending was also a relatively new concept when the company started in 2016.
“We had to invest a lot in explaining to customers and the wider ecosystem why open bank has been beneficial for everyone,” says Riadh Alimi, CEO of Finfrog.
Alimi says their process using open banking is more secure – customers don’t have to send copies of important documents like with traditional lenders – and faster.
Keeping abreast of regulations and wellness checks has also been important as peer-to-peer lending regulations may be stricter in French law. For example, Finfrog needs to investigate Know your customer creditworthiness (KYC) for the first euro borrowed, while banks can usually lend up to €1,000 without any KYC checks.
Olympe Leflambe, MANGOPAY’s compliance manager, adds that she has developed a payment solution that meets the specific challenges of marketplaces and platforms.
“Unlike traditional e-commerce sites, these players have very specific needs in terms of managing their payment flows,” she explains. “As well as regulatory requirements related to third-party collections.”
Founded in 2012, Yescapa facilitates peer-to-peer rental of motorhomes and recreational vehicles. Operating in seven European countries, it has more than 800,000 users and access to 15,000 vehicles.
“Offering the right means of payment is crucial”
Now, Yescapa integrates more professional leasing companies into its platform. Benoit Panel, its CEO and co-founder, explains that this is due to an increased interest in slow tourism on the continent and a desire to turn their “competitors into partners” in a fragmented market.
According to Panel, the company’s existing partnerships are integral to creating an effective marketplace. Whether providing the right insurance for both parties or facilitating a smooth and efficient payment solution – which it does through MANGOPAY’s white label solution – the use of partnerships to cover functions apart from the immediate functionality of the platform can help retain users.
“We are trust builders. We build trust between two parties – on the one hand people’s precious vacation and on the other their property,” says Panel. “Offering the right payment methods is crucial to being able to start building that trust and making them a customer.”
The B2B Malt Marketplace allows companies of all sizes to find independent support. Freelancers upload a profile consisting of their experience, relevant work examples, and references, from which companies can search for relevant talent.
“In our industry, if you want to work with big accounts, you have to ‘look local’”
Malt controls the administration of the employment relationship and facilitates payment to the freelancer within 72 hours of job completion. He then collects a percentage of the freelancer’s daily rate as a fee.
Some 390,000 self-employed people now use Malt in five EU countries. The platform says it will also be operational in the UK in the coming months.
“In our industry, if you want to work with large accounts, you have to ‘look local’”, explains Nicolas Roux, financial director of Malt. “If a country is used to paying with a method that does not exist on another market, it must adapt.”
According to Trayfoot, optimizing checkout for different markets is a key part of the service MANGOPAY provides to customers.
“As you go around the world, there are hundreds and thousands of payment methods available to the buyer. Plus, you need to understand the complexity of different currencies,” he says. “You need the right mode. in front of the user with a very clear structure of their payment method and the currency in which they will be billed.”
API-based payments ecosystem for platforms and marketplaces