It’s one of the oldest businesses known to man-and-woman-kind and with the boom in all kinds of dating sites, it’s obviously a service that has been pulled into the Internet Age.
But, even some of the best high-tech business models that don’t have anything to do with pulling together the lovelorn are actually, at their heart, old-fashioned “matchmaker” operations.
For example, what is Uber if not a matchmaker? It creates mini-weddings between people who can provide rides and people who need rides. In fact, these kinds of matchmaking services are among the hottest Internet ventures going today and if you’re looking for a business opportunity, I suggest you take a look at these kinds of business models.
Let me give you a few more examples and then point you in some directions that might help you discover an idea for yourself that you could develop into an online business with the potential of scaling it up.
Thumbtack is probably the most “all encompassing” of the online-matchmaking business models. It connects service providers with people who need a service performed. However, its approach to generating revenue is different than Uber. Uber, and others such as Airbnb, take a percent of the fee that is collected for the service provided. Thumbtack charges service providers for the privilege of submitting a quote on a prospective job.
Someone looking for a wedding band, for example, might use Thumbtack. The engaged couple would post the date, how long the band would be needed, the type of music preferred and then sit back and receive bids from various musical groups. On the other side of this arrangement, wedding bands would receive emails about the open invitation for bids, check their schedules and decide if they wanted to submit a bid. Any that decide to pursue the opportunity are charged a small fee.
While Thumbtack covers services from wedding bands to math tutoring to plumbers, HomeHero.org specializes in connecting care providers with senior citizens. It makes money by taking a percentage of the care provider’s fee.
Note how these business models, in various ways, are doing what a traditional matchmaker would do. They are connecting people, making the connection more convenient and also providing a certain level of quality control and communication.
Just as the traditional matchmaker would be able to inform prospective husbands and brides about the eligible people they would be introduced to, these online services let users see provider ratings. Further, one of the biggest hassles when working with service providers in these areas is collecting and distributing the money. The online-matchmakers take care of those duties when they charge a percentage. However, with the Thumbtack model, payment is arranged directly between the client and service provider.
Starting a service like one of these on a local level isn’t too difficult. Frankly, with a WordPress website connected to one of the payment services and a little help from a developer you can get started. The best approach would be to start small and locally and do a lot of the grunt work manually while you test your idea.
And to discover ideas, turn to your local Craigslist or Penny Saver listings. Look for areas where a lot of people are advertising their services. If, for example, you found that there were 30 people in your area advertising their services as personal trainers, you could try to establish something like a local personal trainer “clearing house.”
In this example, you would start by contacting independent personal trainers and see if they would like to be listed among your providers. Your initial job would be to pull together a decent website and do some good marketing. You could charge your trainers via the Thumbtack model, or go further and handle all the payments through your service and take a percentage off the top.
The strength of your business depends on your ability to market the services of the people who sign up with you and provide an honest, informative and user-friendly experience for everyone involved – both the service providers and clients.
If you achieve some success, these are businesses that scale up easily. You just start offering your services in more markets. Once you have the initial website developed with its supporting infrastructure, taking it elsewhere is not difficult.
Finally, have you had any hassles finding any kind of service provider in recent years? If so, you may already have many of the insights you need to do a good job setting up a “matchmaker” business.