Some kind of chicken and egg problem


I built a web site, that people can reserve sport fields. I talked to sport facilities and told them that, they can sell their unreserved hours through this web site. Most of them accepted to join the web site.

Ofcourse, facilities must mirror their schedule on the site, through a management screen of their own. This task takes less than several minutes a day.

It has been 2 weeks since the web site is activated and started advertisement. Ofcourse there is not too much sales, since it is a new system. But there is a problem now. Although facilities easily accepted to join the system, most of them are reluctant to update their schedule regularly. It seems like, they expected positive results the next day, which is impossible.

This is similar to chicken and egg problem : It is only worth the task, when there are enough sales.

What can i do to solve this problem? How can i make them do their part for 3-6 months?

Note 1 : i can assure you that, this service is seriously required by customers(in my country ofcourse). It is only a matter of time. It needs 3-6 months to attract attention.

Note 2 : Sport facilities earn good money and this site is not urgent to their business. It is just : "why reject easy/more money?".

Note 3: I'm taking insignificant commission over sales through my site. No fixed money. So, no sales means no payment.

Chicken And Egg

asked Dec 7 '10 at 20:47
6 points

3 Answers


I agree with Joel. The key is that you need to manage it for them right now if they're not doing it themselves. It's a lot of work. Once you show them it's working you can then push them to do the management. In the long term, if they want you to keep managing it, there's an opportunity for you to collect more revenue from them.

If you don't want to do this, it looks like finding a way for them to stay interested and participating is going to be one of the most important aspects of your business. Think creatively, and consider it more of an opportunity than a drawback. Think about what other busiensses do... some ideas might be crowdsourcing, badges, utilizing social networks, etc....

answered Dec 8 '10 at 03:54
Matthew Dorian
292 points


You can hire someone to input the data for the first three to six months, so they really don't have to do anything until you've got the system up and running.

Your business sounds a lot like OpenTable, which tried to do the same thing with restaurant tables. They spent a ton of money and many, many years trying to get started, but now they are a very valuable public company. OpenTable did this by giving the restaurants a free computer system they could use to manage all their reservations.

answered Dec 8 '10 at 03:04
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points
  • The OpenTable idea makes a lot of sense. Long term, people dont want to be entering the same information into two different places. If your system can also replace whatever else they are entering their schedule into, then there is no additional work for them. Perhaps an option is to let them use your system for their scheduling, and you provide a snippet of code that they can embed in their website to also show the schedule there. – Joel Friedlaender 13 years ago
  • They are using paper and pencil. I couldnt convince them to drop using paper. Interestingly, even when they are using my program, they don't want to give up on paper(And when they use the program, it is faster for them.). – Skuzey 13 years ago


Thank you everyone, i really appreciate the answers. I desperately needed valuable opinions.

So, here is what i thought i can do, considering my limited money:

  1. I will try to find out how similar businesses solved the same problem
  2. I will encourage them by promising some gifts if they use my program for some certain time. Like an e-scoreboard (if i can find a sponsor for this scoreboards, like coca-cola:). This way, they will certainly gain something, even if the system doesn't have enough benefits.
  3. Hiring people to do the job seems like the direct solution. I can hire some people to call facilities and update the schdule over phone. But this will still be extra work for facilities. And an annoying one maybe. So im not sure if calling approach will work for 6 months. So, i thought, maybe i can pay extra money to workers of the facilities for doing my job. This could be a solution for some of the facilities.

If i had enough money, i might give them an ipad, as long as they are my partner. This could make at least some of them to drop paper. Fancy enough to make them drop paper and its usage is paper like.

I will keep this thread informed about the results. How i solved (hopefully) this problem.

answered Dec 8 '10 at 21:35
6 points

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