If there’s anything that can be said for marketplace businesses, it’s that they are very profitable, yet devilishly hard to set up. Bringing buyers and sellers together may seem easy given the ubiquity and inter-connectedness of the internet, and seeing companies like eBay rake in millions from charging its innumerable users listing and transaction fees does look enticing.

However, how do you get to that many users in the first place, especially when you’re starting off with nobody? In fact, starting a marketplace can be described as a chicken-and-egg problem: Sellers don’t want to list their products and services in a site with poor traffic, and buyers can’t be bothered with sites that have little sellers offering irrelevant products and services. It is thus fascinating to see the stories behind successful marketplace businesses, how they bootstrapped themselves and managed the growth of both, their seller and buyer user bases.

Eren Bali, Co-founder at Chairman at Udemy

Eren Bali, Co-founder and Chairman, Udemy

This is why Eren Bali will speak on marketplace businesses at Echelon 2014. A Co-founder and former CEO of Udemy, an online courses and education marketplace, he has since stepped down, becoming Chairman and focussing on Udemy’s product development. Bali’s experience with network businesses is extensive, as he was formerly with online dating site SpeedDate, as well as a Co-founder at Knowband, a social network for the educational sector.

With Asian e-commerce startups pondering setting up marketplaces, choosing Bali as Echelon 2014’s first keynote speaker is a nod to our theme for the year, which is keeping a finger on the ‘Pulse of Asia’s Innovation’.

Find out more about marketplace businesses when you sign up and attend Echelon 2014 on June 10 and 11!

Echelon 2014 is a two-day Startup, Technology and Business event where Asia’s most innovative startups, early-stage investors and tech industry leaders as well as tech media, gather to celebrate and build Asia’s growing tech industry, as well as make valuable relationships.

Enjoy a 10 per cent off your Echelon 2014 tickets because you read this article! Use the code “e27Friend.