Providing solutions to multisided pain points

by Kevin Osmond, Founder & CEO of Printerous
Providing solutions to multisided pain points
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Four out of five Indonesia-based unicorns are currently running the same business model: a connecting platform to help people. One started in online transportation, one is engaged in the travel industry and the other two share a piece of the e-commerce pie. The remarkable growth of these unicorns has proven that providing the right answer to multisided pain points would lead to success in your business.

With the digital industry growing rapidly in the past decade, we’ve seen so many start-ups with tremendous innovation focusing on the field of technology. In October 2010, Gojek arrived and introduced the concept of a collaborative economy, a young industry with great potential for growth. This collaborative economy is also a good opportunity for the printing industry that I work in. If Gojek is connecting ojek (motorcycle taxi) with people in need of transportation, I’m trying to connect printing services with people who want to print in a sophisticated yet accessible online platform. This printing business model is a familiar one in China and the United States, where the printing industry has grown successfully by joining online platforms.

To make your business sustainable as a platform, you must be sure of ways to create value for both parties. Determine the root causes of pain points that providers and consumers might face in order to provide notable improvements for a multisided performance. As we know, sometimes people are not aware of the problems faced if they haven’t been offered a solution.

In this case, for the printing industry, I note that printing companies are very conventional and have limited access, even though they have great growth potential. Most printing companies in Indonesia can only reach local customers within a 5-kilometer radius while their printing machines are left idle. They might not be aware of how much potential revenue they are losing. By facilitating them, we provide a new assessment of their business to reach a wider audience and increase their economic share. 

On the other side, customers, especially business people at any stage, must meet their printing needs for items such as business cards, banners, packaging boxes, T-shirts, goodie bags and others. If a printing company finds it difficult to find customers, customers also face a similar thing in printing. The manual process demands a lot of time and energy as it requires going back and forth just for ordering and picking up printing needs. Adjusting designs also come with effort. We came up with the idea of being a one-stop solution for all printing needs, accessible anytime and anywhere.

A platform business model offers a real solution for both side’s pain points, not only to ease the process but providing wider opportunities to develop as well. We discovered that it requires a lot of work to build a platform. Succeeding in this battle needs continuous innovation, both in technological initiatives and business systems.

Changing people's behavior to trust the online procedure is not easy. While you don’t need to have your own inventory, you still need to focus on developing the best solution to convince a multisided party to join your platform. Design a reputation system and add a layer of trust. Instead of "selling" your platform, try to be a reliable partner and facilitate them so they would be willing to use your technology to solve the problem. 

This collaborative economy concept has been transformed into various forms of assistive technology in our life as a solution. With the right ideas, research and execution, a connecting platform will not only survive but also help the industry and economy to grow. 

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