Approximately a year ago myself and many of my colleagues were introduced to an ingenious platform called Blab, considered dead for just over a month now (death announcement here), but still alive in the hearts of many. Now I wouldn’t dream of beating a dead horse although the Blab sticker still proudly covers the Apple logo on my iMac this post is NOT about Blab. It’s about community.
You are the sum total of the people who give a crap
Alright, so maybe this is not as poetic as you’d expect but the truth is, if you’re building a startup your stakeholder’s play a huge role in driving momentum and formulating the first use cases for your platforms , apps , etc. For many of today’s startups or bootstrapper’s our communities are the stakeholder’s and growth drivers. I remember back in the day, some early adopters for webinars filled Citrix broadcasts. You had a handful of recruiters pitching hundreds of potential MMO recruits in an effort to fill the digital broadcast on “Game day”. The pitchfest was interesting, but Blab townhalls were fascinating. You’d routinely see a room full of people show up on a ping, to hold a feedback session for the startup team. No one twisted their arm, no one promised overnight success with the release of a fantastic new system, people just showed up because they were personally invested in the success of this platform. And for those that didn’t show up, the news would do a round-robin until the entire community got caught up on what happened on Blab. You really can’t pay people to care that much.
What’s the point of all of this
I speak about Blab only because I care so much about that experience. It revealed something to me that many other smart startups also realize, Community is Powerful! Some community-centric startups or former startups now icons include:
- Product Hunt
- Growth Hackers
- Startup Digest
- Lean Startup
A few credible examples of startups who value their communities
Power of Community & Product Hunt
While community building may not be the driving force behind every startup. There are some interesting case studies or examples that make the case for a startup’s community. For example, Ryan Hoover’s story on the Making of Product Hunt reveals an exciting story about the power of simplicity and community. What began as an experimental newsletter with friends sharing the same interests has now grown into the launchpad for tech, Ummm period. Boasting a total of 7.1Mil in equity funding via 19 investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Alexis Ohanian, not bad for a community experiment gone incredibly right.
Growth Hackers & Community as a Growth Driver
For those unfamiliar with Growth Hackers I included a screenshot of their about page 🙂 Essentially, it’s the place to be for those who love anything growth oriented. Personally, GH feels like a collaboration and discovery space. A place to find fantastic experiments, share content you can trust, and find interesting people who enjoy growth hacking their way to success. However, since this is not an “IMHO” kind of post I found an ASK GH post answered by the founders:
Now I won’t recap the entire story because I do hope you will visit GH and enjoy learning about its history. However, one piece in the series of responses stood out to me. It was a response by Everette Taylor which reads,
Our biggest growth driver is the community itself, this is a completely biased statement but I say this all the time – “we have the best community on the internet…”
Community is essential if you care about content creation, aggregation, and growth. How will the website create unique content, who will consume it, heck who will actually use it? Imagine a platform based startup with ZERO community. It’s like expecting Facebook was built by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin during several repetitive games of Hot or Not (lame right).
GrowthHackers on the other hand, is far from lame. One day it will probably become the “Do Tank” of the internet with a community that serves a very real purpose.
Triberr and the will to grow up in Public
It’s no secret I have a certain bias for Triberr. It has become something I live and breathe and can’t possibly get enough of. Triberr is an influencer marketing platform based on the concepts of reciprocity and content amplification. But the simplest way to understand it is, it helps connect influencers and their communities with other influencers and their communities. When Triberr was first founded there was nothing else like it. Sharing content was previously single-faceted and quite frankly a bit elitist, but I digress.
The idea of reciprocity on the internet only existed in secret internet mafias or dark web collectives. Triberr began by honing in on the problems bloggers and content creators faced. As such the platform built a strong vibrant community that now includes many leaders at the forefront of content and influencer marketing today.
Community is a game-changer. However, growing up in public from the ground up requires a huge “ego-apart” commitment. Community is much more than just social it’s loyalty and a sense of collective ownership. It requires the remembering of names and an intimate understanding of the cause or emotion that moves people to act or participate. The beginnings of Triberr and it’s very public rearing can be found here Growing Up Naked In Public – The History of Triberr. My favorite exerpt from co-founder, Dino Dogan reads,
One thing that becomes apparent to Dan and I throughout all this is that we are WAAAAY in over our heads. Triberr community got big fast. People were feeling emotional about the service. Love or hate, no in between.
The document goes on to mention different aspects of community-centric activity from company traditions to community etiquette and culture. The point is, Triberr started as destined encounter of two founders in a social media blog post. Fast forward 6 years later it has become one of the foremost content sharing platforms on the internet.
Final Thoughts on Startups and Communities
I come from a very community-centric island. Community is not something new to me. That being said, I can firmly say not everything will always be rainbows and unicorns. With startups, I’d expect nothing less than a little bit of chaos and of course a thick skin requirement. Let’s not romanticize the idea of a community. Just like any growth driver or stakeholder there will be benefits and drawbacks. So I’d like to end with a foreboding word of caution. Community is a sacred thing, if you’re not all in don’t pretend to be all in , as we’ve seen on many occasions masquerades can go downhill quickly.
Overall, stay humble but do what’s right for your vision. Just for fun share some of your favorite startups that love their communities.