How Canadian Startup Uniiverse is Solving the Notorious Chicken and Egg Problem

by Herbert Lui | Startups

It doesn’t make sense for an ordinary consumer to purchase alternative fuel vehicles as there aren’t enough refueling stations in the world. It’s also not a good idea for fuel dealers to open refueling stations without sufficient alternative fuel vehicles on the streets.

This is an example of the chicken and egg problem. A lot of startups struggle to get past this roadblock. Most don’t.

The problem is not impossible to get around, though. There is plenty of advice highlighting strategies startups have used, or are using, to solve chicken and egg problems.

Here’s an example: Toronto-based experience marketplace Uniiverse needs supply-side users to put up listings, and demand-side users to respond to those listings. Having one attracts the other. Naturally, as with most startups, Uniiverse started with neither.

In order to tackle the chicken and egg problem, Uniiverse cofounder Craig Follett and his team looked at the way merchants addressed it in the past. “Not only do farmers' markets literally have both chickens and eggs, but markets like these give clues into buyer and seller behaviors, and are a great analogy for building an awesome new local marketplace,” notes Follett.

“In putting together a traditional farmer's market, one or two of the farmers themselves would probably start it," he explained to Techvibes. "They would look to gather more and more suppliers that have complimentary offerings—they would then bring in their own demand and buyers, and would cross sell the audience on the variety of offerings. The farmers would probably even buy from each other.”

Based on this historical example, Follett and his team spent the last year growing the supplier side of Uniiverse and increasing the number of listings. As Uniiverse becomes populated with listings, Follett believes the recommendation algorithm will present this information to demand-side users in a relevant way.

He’s also betting that suppliers will help spread the word of Uniiverse’s experience marketplace. Follett and Uniiverse are catalyzing that process by lending their supplier-side users a hand through feature week initiatives.

The idea of feature weeks is relatively simple. A user suggests a starting date, gathers five local listings (one each day Monday through Friday), and tells Uniiverse where in the world they are located. Uniiverse will help them promote and share their feature weeks. For example, have a look at Uniiverse’s Movember Food Week initiative.



Uniiverse is eager to partner with other organizations to help grow their community. It has already received attention from some other community-based companies. “We're big fans of our friends at Etsy or Lululemon, whose communities have started to take advantage of Uniiverse,” says Follett.

If all goes according to plan, the moment you set foot in their virtual marketplace, you will be greeted by a constant stream of updated, relevant, listings on the service. If you’re interested in meeting like-minded people with similar interests, check out Uniiverse.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

At Universe, our mission is simple: Bring people together in real life through events. Founded in Toronto in 2011, we've built a platform for people to discover and create events all over the world. Following unprecedented growth in 2014, we've expanded our offices from Toronto to San Francisco and doubled the size of our team that's dedicated to serving the needs of our organizers and fans.... more

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Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui loves startups, creativity, and innovation. He has been actively blogging about technology and consumer electronics since the summer of 2007, and still enjoys every minute of it. Herbert immerses himself in everything he wants to learn more about. He studies Consumer Behavior at the University of Western Ontario. In whatever spare time he has, Herbert can be found with his friends... more

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