Building a Community For Your Startup

The 1 Line Description

A means of offering value to your users, and creating a loyal customer base.

When to use it

When looking to increase engagement and build customer loyalty.

Key Ideas

* This article is a summary of Founders Factory Africa (FFA) content & delivered by Steve Waidelich. [ Summarized by Ighlaas Carlie ]

* A big thanks to FFA for allowing us access to their content!

Building a Community Around Your Startup

Community-led Startup Growth

Entrepreneurs, creators, and businesses are finding that having a community first is the fastest way to launch and sell their content and products.

Community-led growth is a go-to-market strategy in which companies place value beyond their product or service by providing a platform to deepen consumer and brand interactions, providing educational resources, facilitating Q&A through real-time support and feedback, and building brand loyalty, trust, and advocacy.

Building a community is not only good for acquisition but its also a great way of building die-hard fans and advocates for your product to increase retention and customer LTV.

There are six objectives that a community can drive. To help businesses wrap their heads around the options, use the SPACES model:

  • Support: Create spaces for customers to answer questions and solve problems for each other. Example: Autodesk support community.
  • Product: Create spaces for customers to share product feedback and ideas with each other and with your team. Example: Atlassian feedback section.
  • Acquisition: Build programs that help you grow your pipeline and customer base. Example: Branch's Mobile Growth community.
  • Contribution: Enable members to contribute content, services, or something else of value to a platform you create. Example: Notion Template Gallery.
  • Engagement: Connect customers to each other around their common interests in order to increase customer retention. Example: Culture Amp's Culture First.
  • Success: Enable customers to teach each other how to better use your product and be more successful in their careers. Example: Salesforce's Trailblazer program.

Getting started in Community-building

2 ways of getting started in a community-led approach:

  • Partner with an Existing community
  • Start a community from scratch

Partner with an Existing community

When most founders hear of building a community and using a community to grow their startup, they immediately think of the time and resources needed to grow a community before it can become valuable. Most of the time, most startups don't have the time or resources, that's why we advise partnering with an existing community. 

Partnering with a community that has your target market is a great way of breaking into the community growth space without having to build from scratch. It gives you the opportunity to give value and also get value from an already existing community.

Action Steps
  • Make a list of community members with your target market.
  • Make a list of values you can offer the community members and also the founders of the community - why should they partner with you?
  • Reach out to the owners of the community and offer your partnership proposal, alongside the benefit for them.
  • Build a partnership with at least one community. 
  • Start giving out the value and growing the community.

Building a community from scratch

For startups that might find it difficult in identifying already existing communities with their target market, have a niche product and market base, or just want a community centered around their Startup, then building a community from scratch might be the best way to go.

Building a community is much more than building an audience. The value a community brings is 10x greater than the value of an audience. 

To build an audience, you help people. To build a community, you help people help each other - David Spinks, Co-Founder CMX.

Moving your community from 0 to 1000

  • The first set of community members should be founders, employees, friends of employees, and friends of friends.
  • Reach out to community innovators. Community innovators are micro-influencers in your subject area that have the potential of creating content, influencing users to join the community via Word of Mouth and creating that initial engagement for your community.
  • Create a value calendar for your community. A community core focus is to deliver value, once you can give out value, you can get loyalty in response. A Value calendar should consist of the events, offers, and program plans for the community. It can include masterclass, webinars, Exclusive Spaces, Q/A, AMA with experts, discounts, vouchers, offers, content, etc.
  • Encourage community members to share the community with their friends and connections.
  • Create offers for new community members to get people outside the community to join.
  • Reach out to influencers to talk about your community.
  • Develop a reward scheme to show loyal community members your appreciation.