My partner and I would like to lunch a new marketplace for products that, for obvious reasons, we can't disclose at this point. We don't have any patent or proprietary IP to raise the entrance barrier.
Our strategy is: launch website --> check market acceptance and get some minimal traction --> raise some angel-money --> expand
We assume that no one will invest money before we can prove some market interest (traffic).
We have limited resources that would be enough to finance the design and the development of the first version and, maybe, leave a couple of thousands for promotion.
The question is how can we check market acceptance with little resources? How to attract early adopters/initial customers. SEO is obviously an option but may take time to rank high since it is a competitive market.
Thanks in advance!
If you launch a marketplace, most important is, you have to know what is your strategy to solve chicken-and-egg problem.
Joel explained it pretty well here: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000054.html If you are startup, your patent is pretty much useless. You won't have the resources to defend it. Your best bet is to solve chicken-and-egg problem and defend yourself with network-dominance.
You can check market acceptance by doing advertising campaign on Google or Facebook with keywords surrounding your marketplace products. Otherwise, contact blogger or contribute in forums that has interest with what you are doing.
Having said that, from experience, marketplace business usually take significant amount of time (at least > 6 months) to prove its value. And, i am skeptic people will copy you straight away. People copy success, not idea.
Hope that helps.
Post the site to YCombinator news and ask for feedback. I did this and got thousands of visits and a lot of comments. See the Genotrope blog post Be prepared for brutal honesty and not much glowing positivity.
But if you can take the heat it is worth it and you may even get lucky and get PG to comment.
Google App Engine is built exactly for web startups like yours.
You can built your app and Google can host it for you. It starts off free, and you can make your prototype, do initial tests of the marketplace and try to get Startup funding.
They have a generous free usage quota, and you might find that you're making money before they even start charging you.
Very little risk on your part.