Dec 17 2018 by

Community Building – More is Better, Or Is It?

There are many aspects of life where more is better and as such there are many times we employ strategies to maximize the more.  A few examples that many of us live by are:

  • Money
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Priceless Art
  • Experiences
  • Time with loved ones
  • Goals in ice hockey (ok maybe just me).

In terms of startup community building, there are a plethora of activities that local leaders utilize to create lift.  (For clarity, I am using the word “activities” in a very broad sense.) These may include:

  • Hackathons
  • Coffee meetups ~ 1 Million Cups
  • Grant Programs
  • Pitch Competitions
  • Learn to Code Academies
  • Accelerators
  • Networking Socials
  • Startup Weekends
  • Recruitment Events
  • Venture Funds
  • Community Blogs

The list literally goes on and on. Developing communities are first challenged to convene the various actors across the ecosystem.  This has an immediate positive impact as the tribe begins to organize.  Participate in this over a few months and some momentum begins to build.

As a community matures, activities naturally increase as newly motivated leaders step up and attempt to fill various voids.  In many mature communities, there may be as many as  2-3 events every week.

I find the number, the diversity and the cadence of these activities to be one of the critical signals as to the maturity of a community. 

But beware.  There is a trap that evolves in some minds that if the first handful of activities start to build some very visible momentum, then more activities would have an even larger effect.  Unfortunately there I a ceiling to the # of activities and the subsequent impact.

In terms of startup community building, the more is better strategy has a very visible limit to its effectiveness.  Once a critical mass of organizing activities are achieved (different trigger points for different communities), then the strategy should shift to building more meaningful activities.