Why I start a Community-Led Growth Business

Let’s be clear. Either you pay for a community or you build your own. This is the conclusion I have been able to draw after more than 7 years of being involved in community-based business models and running off/online communities.

The first time I realised this was when I landed in Helsinki. In fact, anyone who has been there will know that the concept of Teampreneur, rather than entrepreneur, is booming. So, that’s where I got the associative capacity.

That was the perfect opportunity to export a model that worked there to Barcelona as a link between associations and entrepreneurship clubs. My focus was on universities and in just 3 months we went from one canvas to +1k community members.

We basically did networking meetings between investors and entrepreneurs running seed projects. It was fun. Our biggest success was when, with Joan Margarit, Rebeca Rodríguez and folks, sold a consultant project with CaixaBank on how to approach the millennial generation. First example of what I said at the beginning. Community is key.

Full of experiences I decided to jump from project to Madrid, where I went on to manage a community of +15 k worldwide with Trivu. In 2 years, I dynamized more than 100 events, mobilised more than 3k people and worked with more than 30 corporations. Another example that access is key.

Another great experience was working with Xavier Verdaguer at Imagine Creativity Center. A community of 1k “Dreamers” who generate disruptive business ideas. A very good community. In just over a year we managed to mobilise and dynamize between 5k and 6k “wannabe entrepreneurs” in physical events. All network.

In all these experiences, although we had a great capacity to mobilise people to physical spaces, I really understood how different is to move from digital to offline. At Utopicus, one of the reference coworking spaces in Spain, I had the opportunity to re-design hands-on with a wonderful team a community in more than 15 physical spaces with more than 2k coworkers. I learned a lot there.

All these experiences led me to found Libroinnovacion.com, with 33 innovation managers from corporations where we got together to make the ABC of corporate innovation. With a record of virality with the emoji effect 🤫🍀 and in just 48 hours, we got 1k subscribers who participated in giving us feedback on the book. 0$ spent. In a month we are going to launch the crowdfunding campaign. Stay tuned.

By the way, I wouldn’t like to leave out Equipo País, an initiative of the Spanish society coordinated by Antonio Espinosa where a massive vote was held to select the 130 leaders who could solve the country’s problems. There I was in charge of dynamising in 12 sessions of the selected leaders.

All this has led me to mobilise more than 20k people in 7 years, to work with more than 100 corporations and to hold more than 200 events. All this would not have happened without communities.

There is only one problem.

Most of the time, business objectives crashes against community objectives. But you really need to understand that without community, or rather without access, there is no business.

We have seen this in the pandemic. Who have we appealed to? To people we already trusted. In times of crisis, the community is your greatest insurance.

That’s why I set up my company. To help put business and community on the same page and move from a Product Led Growth strategy to a Community Led Growth strategy.

I show you very quickly in this graphic.

While following Product-led Growth helps you build the right product for your customer, it doesn’t help you distribute and reach your customer. I have seen many companies struggle to scale while having a good product that works for a niche of customers.

However, a community-based strategy helps you build your product and get your first distribution done. Because the niche you are targeting is involved, they feel part of it and it will be a long term relationship.

Take this as a little sketch of what I’m building. And to tell you the truth, the market has shown me that there is room for it. Things are going well :)

I will tell you more in the next days. In the meantime, I leave you my calendar in case you want to start aligning community and business. Or rather, if you want to stop having a CRM and start having your own community.

Wish your the best

Alexander Phimister

Ecosystem Builder / Innovation Manager at Utopicus / The Smart Net Founder / Professor Univeristy of Navarra