Ignite network effects
created by Mohan Sawhney
Available on demand
2-week sprintUpgrade to membership
Welcome to the Platform Strategy Sprint
Airbnb versus B&B. Etsy versus craft fair. When a platform enters a traditional product market, it almost always dominates. We’ll teach you to build platforms that unite fragmented markets to drive massive value.
Winning platforms unlock incredible value for stakeholders, and many of today’s most valuable firms are platforms. What exactly do we mean when we say platform? Platforms connect two or more sides of a market to facilitate an exchange of value. Platforms are efficient businesses because value is created externally, freeing up capital to invest in platform infrastructure.
Platforms are everywhere. But what makes a platform, a platform? You can spot a platform by three key attributes: two or more market sides, network effects, and external value creation.
Lesson 2: Why platforms matter
Without owning fixed assets, platforms are more efficient and resilient. Network effects make it tough to disrupt a platform company. The ticket to creating this value? The five stages of the Platform Evolution Framework: Inception, Scaling, Monetization, Protection, and Expansion.
Lesson 2 case study: Etsy
Etsy unlocks incredible economic value connecting artisans with buyers seeking handmade goods. To kick start its business, Etsy focused on the seller community first. Etsy offered not only the first centralized online marketplace for artisan goods, but also empowered sellers with tools to highlight the uniqueness of their products and build a personal brand.
Lesson 2 case study: Handy
Handy connects individuals seeking home cleaning with service providers. The two market sides ignite direct and indirect network effects. More consumers on the platform - leaving ratings and reviews on service providers - make the platform more valuable for other consumers. And more consumers on one side make the platform more valuable for service providers on the other side.
Inception is the first phase in the Platform Evolution Framework. Every platform starts with a real customer problem. If you observe inefficiencies, fragmentation, or a trust deficit between two markets, there may be an opportunity for a platform. Leading platforms tackle big problems with total addressable markets big enough to fuel external value creation for your platform.See more →
Scaling and Monetization are the second and third phases in the Platform Evolution Framework. Platforms generate value externally, so building critical mass on each side is critical. But how to attract one side before the other side exists? Scaling relies on keen judgement to select the right side to activate first and responsibly inject liquidity into the market. However, beware of getting stuck in an infinite scaling loop. At some point, you must withdraw artificial liquidity, and monetize sustainably.
Protection and Expansion are the fourth and fifth phases in the Platform Evolution Framework. Remember, platforms are the ultimate disruptors and can quickly move into your space. Mature platforms preempt competition with defensive strategies that make a platform hard for users to leave. Eventually, a platform will need to grow beyond its original buyers and sellers. To choose an expansion strategy, leading platforms invest in solving a new, real customer problem with a large total addressable market, while keeping customer acquisition costs at bay.
Live classes and events
Every Section4 sprint includes live classes, discussions, and meetups to help you solidify the concepts in the sprint and grow your community.
Professor and TA interaction. Our world-class professors and teaching staff are here to help you make the most of the experience.
Lifetime network. Connect with professionals from 60+ countries and across industries to gain fresh perspective from like-minded leaders.
High-impact project. Apply the frameworks and strategies from the sprint to a real problem at work.