The Importance of Community in the Startup World

by Laika Deunert

Why should startups care about building community? I am a keen supporter of the idea that if you want your business to be successful you should start with the core of the solution. Building a community. I know, I know. This may sound counterintuitive, to focus on something other than your product but I can name plenty of successful startups who focused on community more than anything even in their early growth phase. Largely successful startups such as Eventbrite, Lift, Foursquare, Yammer, Hootsite, Buffer, Soundcloud, Skillshare, Kickstarter and more. You may be thinking “but a lot of these startups are focused on events or sharing content, of course, they would want to focus on a community” but the aspect of a strong community is not limited to this niche. It extends way further to many varieties of business; Saas, b2b, non-profits. The list goes on and on. But startups have so many things they need to focus on. Why should they divert their attention to this seemingly minuscule thing called community? Because it’s not as insignificant as you may think and these are the reasons why.

 

Truly Engaged Customers 

our customers = our community.

This is especially true for our members at 360 Lab San Francisco

We truly value the importance of community. 

 

The most straightforward thing you’ll get out of a strong sense of community is engaged customers, who truly believe in your product. To develop a strong product you must be backed by your customer. To do this your clientele needs to feel special. This won’t be achieved by half-assing it. You must be genuine and authentic. 

Once you have a product that your customers can’t stop raving about, your community will continue to grow exponentially. 

 

Niche Communities 

When you’re first starting a business it can be difficult to pave a path of growth when you have nothing to work from. Just like a building, startups need a blueprint to be built from the ground up. This is why connecting with a community that has a similar product or niche is helpful. This creates an excellent opportunity to connect with those who have gone through the hoops already and can give you essential consumer feedback.

Forums are a great place to find niche communities. 

 

Funding

What’s a great alternative to VC funding? Social funding. Platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo make this possible. This is an excellent way to gain recognition even before the launch of your product and it comes with a great bonus. It comes with an already established foundation of social currency. Since your potential customer has already backed your product by pledging to it, you will already have a group of evangelists. 

Social funding is a great way to generate movement into your community. These initial supporters will become the major influencers of your brand. It is then up to you to ensure that your product lives up to its promise. 

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Although a strong community is an important component to the success of your growing startup, it’s equally important to make sure that the way you build your community’s identity aligns with everything else you’re doing. Focus on why you need community and shape that aspect to fit into your company’s goals. Look into community managers, for example, to engage with your team and your clients.

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