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Interview: Juho Makkonen, Co-Founder & CEO of Sharetribe

We had the privilege to learn more about Sharetribe from their co-founder and CEO, Juho Makkonen. Juho shares with us what his company is about, the company’s long term goals and more!

Juho Makkonen, Co-Founder & CEO of Sharetribe.
Juho Makkonen, Co-Founder & CEO of Sharetribe.

What is Sharetribe in a nutshell?

Sharetribe is a platform that anyone can use to create their own online marketplace website, in the spirit of Airbnb, Etsy or Fiverr: a place where multiple users can sell or rent goods, services or spaces to each other. We strive to be the easiest way for anyone to create such a site. You can create your site from there in one minute, customize it to fit your needs from the admin panel (no coding skills needed!) and launch it to your users on the same day. You can monetize your site by letting your users to pay for their purchases through the marketplace’s payment system and charging a fee from each transaction. Sharetribe is free to use for the first 30 days, after that we charge a monthly fee from the administrator, depending on the number of users in their site.

We understand that Sharetribe started as a research project for Aalto University. How was the development process like and did you ever expect it to become so big?

In the beginning we didn’t have any startup ambitions: the first marketplace was just a pilot for a research project. However, when we noticed that it became successful in the campus, we realized there might be many other communities too who might benefit from a tool that allows anyone to create their own marketplace site.

What is your long-term vision for Sharetribe?

We want to do the same to marketplaces what WordPress did for publishing: democratize it by giving everyone around the world an easy and affordable way to create their own marketplace site. We want to be a household name in this area just like WordPress is in the publishing world. Ultimately, we want to change the way people purchase and possess physical and digital goods, services and spaces. We believe that the future of our economy is networked and collaborative: more and more people are buying goods and services directly from each other, bypassing middlemen, and co-using and reusing their existing assets. This is a change for the better: it’s better for the planet, for the society, and for the individual. We exist to accelerate and empower this change.

The Sharetribe Team!

Creating online marketplaces around the world has immense potential but also great challenges. What are some challenges or key takeaways you have learnt so far?

I’ve written a series of 3 blog posts about this topic, it’s here. Matching supply & demand is hard, since you have the “chicken & egg” problem in the beginning.

What words of advice or caution would you give to someone who is looking to start their own online marketplace?

The blog posts I mentioned in my previous answer are also the words of caution. You need to have a narrow focus, make sure you’re actually solving a real problem for your users, and find a scalable business model. In addition to that: you need to realize that it takes time to create a successful marketplace, and you have to be patient. Success won’t happen overnight.

Could you share with us some examples of businesses/groups which grew very successful because of Sharetribe?

A few of our success stories can be read here.

Is Singapore one of the countries you have in mind to start Sharetribe? Why or why not?

We do have full support for Singapore. Our payment system works in Singapore dollars. All aspiring entrepreneurs from Singapore who want to create their own marketplace business can get started with our platform now.

Thank you Juho for taking time to share with us about Sharetribe! 

Photo credits: Sharetribe

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