Early stage startups need to spend a lot of time speaking to customers to get to Product Market Fit quickly. Moreover, startups need to educate customers and talk about the problems they seek to solve rather than their solution.

A community helps startups share knowledge about the problem they're solving and take their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) on the journey with them as they seek to find Product Market Fit.

The benefits of community for startups

What if instead of focusing on acquiring users, startups focused on building a community instead?

A community aligns people around a mission, which can be tremendously helpful for early stage startups.

Here are some more reasons to consider being community-led:
  • Early stage startups need 100 users who love the product rather than 1000s who kind of like it
  • Early stage startups don't just need users, they need evangelists and advocates who help create network effects
  • Advertising doesn't work well for early stage startups as even after spending money, the users acquired are low quality who don't stick around

Early stage startups don't just need users, they need network effects which brings in significantly more users. An early-stage startup should focus on creating a community of 100 people who love the product, rather than focus on 1000s who kinda like it.

So now that we know the benefits of communities for startups, the natural question that arises is - how does a startup go about creating a community?

Following is a process startups can use to create a community:

Create an audience first

Before you begin creating a community, it is crucial to create an audience by leveraging social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube and Facebook. You should post content regularly and help people solve their problems.

Once you have an engaged audience who likes your posts and content, you should identify who your biggest fans are. These people could be broken up into fans and advocates.

Once you identify advocates, you should reach out to each advocate and ask them to spread the word about your startup with their audience. This helps bring about network effects.

It is important to start small and go after an audience that is active and engages with your content.

Segment your audience

Once you have created an audience and are seeing some engagement with your content, it is important to segment your audience. You can follow the following segmentation as an example:

  • Influencers
  • Influencers are members of your audience who have a big following on social media channels and have the potential to spread positive words about your startup. These influencers have a big following on social media channels and can greatly help your startup achieve the benefits of network effects.

  • Fans
  • Fans are interested in your startup's vision and/or mission and are great for converting into potential users. Once they become users, they can be turned into advocates.

Create a community

The next step is to convert your audience into a community. A community has tremendous benefits:
  • Community members align around a certain cause which helps create deep connections
  • Community members help each other, which creates good karma and powerful network effects
  • Community helps startups with product feedback, which is crucial for early stage startups
  • In this world of extreme competition, a community helps a startup stand out and provides a strong moat
  • Community helps turn users into advocates who can potentially bring in many more users
  • Community enables users to stick a lot longer with the product, thus improving retention

Now that you're hopefully convinced that creating a community can be extremely beneficial for your startup, you may be thinking "how do I create a community?"

No problem, we have you covered! We wrote a detailed post about choosing a community platform

To summarize, here are some key consideratons when choosing a community platform for your startup:

Size of the community

How large do you expect your community to become over the next few years? If it will be a small to medium sized community, you can go with Slack or Discord, else Discourse might be a better option.

Moderation requirements

Do you need moderation of the community? How fine-grained should the moderation be? If yes, go with Discourse, else feel free to consider Discord.

Unlimited messaging

Is unlimited messaging a big concern for you? If so, go with either Discord or Discourse as Slack has a 10k messaging limit.

If you do plan to build a community, try us out. Casa helps early-stage startups build a community consisting of fans, influencers, and advocates. Do check us out and please give us feedback :)