How to build a lean MVP in Sharetribe Flex

You have a fantastic marketplace idea. You’ve spotted a gap in the market, a huge opportunity and you’re excited to get going and make it a reality. 

No doubt you’ve researched no-code and low-code tools and have realised that building a marketplace within a couple of months is very achievable.

Sharetribe looks like a fantastic solution - it provides you with a ready-made marketplace that you can easily customise in order to match the needs of your own business. 

However, whilst Sharetribe offers a great range of essential marketplace features, it can be very tempting to want to add all the bells and whistles. 

So I want to try and convince you that your MVP should be as lean as possible. Stick close to the Sharetribe Flex template, don’t add too many new features and only make small, light changes to the UI (colour, fonts and images). 

Remember the goal of your MVP

I get it. I’ve been there myself. When I started building my own marketplace on Sharetribe Flex, I didn’t want people to recognise the familiar Sharetribe template. I wanted it to look unique. And I dreamed about all the awesome features I wanted to add to make my marketplace irresistible to customers and suppliers alike.

However, I had to remind myself that real goal of my MVP was to validate my idea and figure out if this was a viable business as soon as possible and for as little money as possible. 

I had a timeline of 6 weeks and a budget of $5,000. This meant I had to be strict with myself and ensure my initial MVP was as lean as it could be. If I was to add all the features I really wanted, I’d have blown both my budget and my timeline - in fact, I’d still be building it now!

So, I had to hold my nerve and put these features into the backlog, to be built at a later date. 

Once my marketplace was live (on time and under budget!) I soon found out that customers and suppliers will quickly tell you what features they are missing. It was also interesting to learn that the ones that you think are vital to the success of your marketplace might turn out to be of very little value to your users. The order of priority completely changed.   

So, the big takeaway here is, save yourself the time, money and effort of building the wrong features before going live. Stay close to the template, launch your marketplace and then start adding new features based on customer feedback. I promise you, you’ll thank me later. 

Out-of-the-box Sharetribe Features

For those who need further convincing, I wanted to share some of the awesome built-in features that Sharetribe Flex has out of the box:

  • Suppliers can create and manage their own listings
  • Buyers and sellers can message each other within the platform
  • Providers can manage their stock (for product marketplaces)
  • Providers can manage their availability/calendar (for services marketplaces)
  • Marketplace transactions can be processed (via Stripe)
  • You can take a commission from the transactions
  • Buyers and sellers can review each other
  • Timezone support
  • Admin console allows you to monitor transactions, content (listings) and conversations (between buyers and sellers)

They literally give you a ready-made marketplace! These are handed over to you in the form of three-ready made templates:

Time-based bookings: Yogatime

  • Out of the box, Yogatime is a marketplace for booking and selling hour-long yoga classes
  • This template offers hourly bookings on a weekly schedule but it can be easily customised to provide booking lengths anywhere from minutes to several hours
  • It is a great starting point for time-based service marketplaces (e.g online or in-person classes)
  • Read more about specific features for the Yogatime template
  • Watch a demo of Yogatime

Day-based bookings: Saunatime

  • Out of the box, Saunatime is a marketplace for renting the use of a sauna for a day
  • This template is a great starting point for rental marketplaces where bookings are made on a daily or nightly basis. (e.g. hotels and cars)
  • Read more about specific features for the Saunatime template

Product marketplace: Sneakertime: 

  • Product-based marketplaces
  • Out of the box, Sneakertime is a marketplace to buy and sell sneakers
  • This template is a great starting point for product-based marketplaces (e.g second-hand clothing)
  • It includes features for stock management, shipping, delivery, and disputing orders
  • Watch a demo of Sneakertime

It’s worth mentioning here that you are only given the code, so if you’re non-techncial, you will need the help of a developer (and sometimes a designer) to customise the template and to get the marketplace live. This is why Sharetribe Flex is a low-code solution rather than a no-code solution. 


So to sum things up, my advice for building your MVP on Sharetribe Flex is:

  • Stay as close to the Flex template as possible
  • Add minimal new features
  • Only make small changes to UI (e.g. colours, fonts, images)

Remember, the look and feel can be changed later, and new features added once you have solid evidence (in the form of traction) that the marketplace is worth investing more money in.

The only customisations I recommend you make for your MVP are:

  • The questions on the form that the suppliers will complete about their listing (known as listing fields)
  • Filters on the search page to ensure they are relevant to your specific business (e.g. price, location etc.)
  • The information you display on the listing pages
  • Design of your homepage

I hope this helps! Do get in touch if you have any questions.

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Fiona MacDougall

Web Designer for Marketplaces

With over eight years of product experience, Fiona designs beautiful, yet easy-to-use marketplace websites. What makes her unique? Well, she's an ex-marketplace founder and has previously worked for a Venture Capital firm so she has experienced life on both sides of the deal! Fiona is based in Oxfordshire, UK and has clients all over the world.

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