Community As Growth Engine

I listened to Sequoia partner Jess Lee share her thoughts (beginning at 12:20 in the recording) on how community can play an important role in entrepreneurial success. She defines community as customers who love the solution so much that they’re willing to talk to peers about it. She views community as the ultimate growth engine for the following reasons:

  • $0 customer acquisition cost – When you build a place for people to share their thoughts about something they’re passionate about, they generate word-of-mouth advertising that costs you nothing.
  • Feedback – These people are fiercely loyal and will give you candid feedback on what they like and don’t like about your solution. Their feedback is your ear to the ground, helping you find and retain product–market fit.
  • Connections – People build relationships within these communities. Among members there’s loyalty and a sense of belonging.
  • Underserved users – Even in large organizations, there are often groups of people whose pains aren’t understood and haven’t been solved. Connecting with these underserved users so they don’t feel alone can create loyalty. Solving their pain points further reinforces their loyalty.
  • Key elements – The four important elements of a successful community are government, economy, religion (shared ethos), and media.
  • Community needs first – The best communities are oriented to the needs of the community, not the needs of the business. Making connections and adding value for users helps build strong communities. The best community builders are customer (user) obsessed.

Jess does a great job of sharing her thoughts on community. I agree with them, and I believe the most successful companies will have a community at the core of their success.