Community building: People and Process

Less than a month ago, together with David, we plunged right back into community building.

We kicked off #BUIDL Amsterdam, a non-profit meetup that brings together people who are actively building and contributing to the decentralised web (entrepreneurs, coders, product managers, community builders, investors etc).

You might ask, isn’t there already an abundance of blockchain events?
Fair question.

There are plenty of specific blockchain-related communities, from developer focused to food integrity blockchain meetups to basic introductions into blockchain type of events.

However, #BUIDL AMS comes from our own unmet need to belong to a community of like-minded people (shared interests and values).

We want a safe space where people feel empowered to Pay it Forward (ask and offer help) and share learnings they gathered along the way while building companies (successful or not).

Looking back

Once a community builder, always a community builder.

The past 8 years, I’ve been involved in various community building projects (both online and offline communities) across all continents. I thought it’s about time I start sharing some of my own learnings on building communities (of startups, creatives, mentors, investors, instructors, students).

Every 2–3 months I’ll share one lesson.

Lesson #1: People vs. Process.


I’ve been mentoring and coaching early-stage entrepreneurs for over 8 years.

In 80% of these cases, apart from the everyday challenge of building a product people love, they all struggle with attracting the best talent. A few manage to get great people in but fail at keeping and motivating them on the long run.

The impact of a wrong hire at an early-stage startup is in most cases devastating. That is because the very first hires will make or break a company.

Important to practice: Hire and fire for values. Hire for values not skills. 
Because you can teach skills but you can’t teach attitude.

Similar to startups, communities are driven by the people within them. Whether you like it or not, your early adopters will set the example for how to behave and interact for all your future community members. So you should be intentional in clarifying what your mission, vision, values and voice are. These are the most important drivers for shaping your community culture.

And as Jennifer Raiser, Burning Man Project Board member said:

[It is] important that you embody the ethos of what you are trying to do to curate the community you want to have.


But even getting the right people onboard doesn’t mean your community’s success is guaranteed. The right people need guidance and process.

When it comes to building communities (from scratch or/and at scale) the CMX team and Carrie Melissa Jones from Gather really paved the way and taught me a great deal.

If only I’d have had the current knowledge around community frameworks (CMX Strategy Canvas, SPACE model, Engagement cycle etc) back in 2011, I really think some of my community projects would have been around until today.[1]

Without a clear strategy, a good understanding on what problem you are solving, how your community is going to create value for your organisation, and what metrics you should track, you will likely hit a dead end.

To build a sustainable community you need both the right people and process.

Stay warm, safe and happy! :)

[1] Resources you should definitely check out:,