I think the reason people have not built a successful stand alone marketplace for therapists is because you won’t get the stickiness that you would want from a marketplace.

There are two kinds of marketplaces: homogeneous and non homogeneous.

What matters is also if supply is commoditised.

In an homogeneous marketplace, you can replace supply easily and demand stays. Think about it. If you want an Uber you don’t care which driver you get. Every transaction is new. So it does not matter if the last driver stopped driving. Driver A can be replaced with B.

While in mental health marketplace, you want to build a relationship with your therapist and it is going to be a multi months commitment. And if it is a multi months commitment, then after the first consultation, you will just take the relationship off the platform and there will be platform leakage. The cost of acquiring the demand through marketing can’t be repaid through the LTV you will get. If your marketplace really works, then someone would get their match with the perfect therapist the first time itself, and just leave. It is kinda like dating websites before Tinder. And even marriage sites.

The relationship between the participants (demand and supply) here is monogamous. Ideally the transaction would happen between the same supply side and demand side user. You would want to stick to your therapist for you to get value. Very hard to build a sustainable model in this case. This is the reason Homejoy failed inspite of raising so much money.

Now compare this with Practo. You have an issue. You just search for a doctor in the specialisation and go there. As long as the rating/review is good, you don’t care. And when you come back after 9 months for another consultation, you might choose a different doctor. Frequency is less. And the relationship between participants polygamous. And yes, Practo can add therapists to their marketplace and it might get traction. But this is PMF expansion, and not launching a marketplace that only has therapists.

While the therapist relationship is high frequency, depends a lot on the relationship you build with the therapist, and the therapist would never want to pay the platform fee/rake for multiple transactions. Only first transaction where they get the demand is worthwhile enough to pay rake. Post that they would want you to book directly, not from your marketplace.

I would love to see if someone is successful doing this. For now I would not go after this idea.