Maker Hunt’s AMA with Sandi MacPherson from Quibb

Today we have Sandi MacPherson — Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Thanks for doing this AMA. We’re ready when you are.

I’m the founder of Quibb, which I’ve been working on for the past 2.5 years. It’s a professional platform to share and discuss industry news — mainly focused on tech/startup/media niches atm. Happy to chat with all of you today about the product, myself (a non-technical, non-tech background solo-founder), or my new life across the bay in Oakland ☺

Q. How do I get on Quibb?! — Lauren Holliday

Q. What was the inspiration for Quibb and why did you decide to build the community based on “exclusivity”? — Eric Willis

RE: Eric and Lauren. It was never intended to be exclusive for the sake of being exclusive in my mind, Quibb is kinda/sorta the equivalent of an online industry association the people who are able to comment/share content are the people on-stage at an event like that, the people on-stage are professionals with lots of experience in their role and industry for Quibb membership — I look for external signals to understand ‘is this person an experienced professional in their field?’ there are some checkboxes in the application and I do some ‘magic’ on the backend too. It’s a tough model to explain, because it doesn’t really exist in other products.

Q. Apart from the newsletter, are there any other ways Quibb reaches out to “average folk”? — Violeta Nedkova

Lol. The idea for quibb has always been to allow people to be better at their job, more informed and confident professionals. Most of this is via the content and discussion that’s shared

Q. Did you really personally meet up with your first 40 members and how important do you think that was to building out the foundation of the Quibb community? — Jonas Daniels

Yeah I could go screenshot my calendar… but that’d take too long!

Basically I just set up meetings with some of the brightest tech people I could find who would talk to me and showed them the product and got their feedback then at the end of the meeting I’d follow up with an e-mail, saying ‘here’s how you can join!!’ — I think if anything that allowed me to have a great base of people to talk to as I built out the product since I was such a newb they were really great, accomplished startup people and I learned a lot in talking to them about the product, and later about how they used the product so in that way, I’m not sure they were vital with the actual community, but were def vital in terms of the early product decisions

Q. What is your long-term vision for Quibb? Is it already what you envisioned from the start? — Violeta Nedkova

Long term vision: my background is climate change policy and clean tech. The problems around collecting and understanding industry news that mattered to me — they were super annoying various state regulations, what my competitors were doing, new advancements in the space, etc

I think that type of information and news is needed in many different industries so the long-term vision for Quibb is to allow any professional, in any industry vertical, to find the best content and discussion about the news in their industry that day

Q. How were you gathering early feedback from users (face to face meetings, skype, email, surveys)? — Ben Tossell

Hi Ben! Gathering early feedback..I did a bunch of phone calls, I remember I had a family emergency, and had to fly back to Eastern Canada a few weeks after my 40 meetings wrapped so I just got on skype, and called everyone up asked them questinos about how they had been using it, what they liked, etc

(I don’t remember the exact questinos… they were better than that lol) I’ve used surveys more recently (e.g. after a recent Quibb event) but didn’t find they were overly useful at the beginning stage — other than recruiting the right-ish people off of Craigslist

Q. What makes a product “social”? — Eric Willis

Yes! It’s funny, I think there’s a big difference between ‘social’ and ‘community’ products but people these days seem to clump them into one bucket — I need to write a blog post on it ☺. Usually — social lives on a network and pulling strings on the networks impacts the nodes that those strings are attached to, and is more granular vs. community; where group dynamics are much more powerful, and people get most of their positive associations with the community via interactions with the whole, and sometimes individuals. Social and comm products are also structured differently (e.g. profiles, following, etc.)

Q. Sounds like you’ve got a lot of people on the membership with a strong technology base but you also a flair towards environmentalism. Do you see trends that indicate the two are merging? — Timothy

Not really — I basically left behind my career in clean tech and environmental policy, to pursue plan B — tech/entrepreneurship. My dad has always been an entrepreneur, so once I realized that I didn’t want to do cleantech anymore… starting my own thing was an obvious option

Q. Besides the lower cost of living, why would someone want to live in Oakland instead of SF or Silicon Valley? — Eric Willis

It’s only been 4 months… so I’m not sure yet ☺ I do like it over here it’s nice sometimes to escape the never-ending distractions that accompany the SF tech scene at the same time — I’m only a 15min ride away from most of SF so it’s easy to get over for meetings/events/etc

Q. I once expressed my annoyance with not getting on Quibb in a blog post. Did you ever read it, Sandi? ☺—Violeta Nedkova

No, I didn’t see that! Please send to me!

Q. I could be mistaken but didn’t Ryan Hoover first announce Product Hunt on Quibb? I thought he built up a good portion of the early Product Hunt community from his following on Quibb. —Eric Willis

Yes, it’s true!

Also — Ryan and I met on Quibb ☺Sandi introduced us— Nathan Bashaw

Ryan was really active on Quibb — he’d always share lots of comments, his blog posts, etc and met great people, like Nathan! ☺ There are lots of great stories like that out of Quibb; people got jobs, people met investors, people met cofounders etc etc. I need to write them all up, obv! Rhe product is a really great way to connect with people and actually have discussions vs a lot of the other professional networks are more about hiring, or resumes, etc

Q. Is there anything you would do differently if you could go back and do it over again with Quibb? —Eric Willis

Oooo tough question… nothing comes to mind atm

Q. Do you think Slack is now a competitor? — Violeta Nedkova

Meh, I don’t know. I try not to play the ‘competitor’ game. I think there are always lots of options for people to spend time elsewhere, outside your product

Q. Did you specifically see the signal to noise ratio on Twitter as an opening for Quibb? — Eric Willis

Yeah, good question! As a non-tech person, when I first saw how tech people use Twitter, I was really surprised huh… ‘they don’t use this to follow their fav celebs, local shops, friends, cute dogs?!?’ The use case of twitter as a professional social rss was interesting and a use case that not a lot of other professionals adopt with the product …but it kinda works! so the thinking behind Quibb was to build a product that was actually meant for sharing and discussing professional content — an intent that Twitter was never really built for

Q. I’m curious. Are there any Slack communities you frequent or are you not a slacker? ☺ — Violeta Nedkova

Not really. One of my investors uses it to communicate with all the portfolio co’s. There’s Maker Hunt and then I use it with a contractor who’s working with me so I’m in 3 or 4 random groups since I’m still a team of one, I don’t have other people to use it with me in the ‘team comm’ way :(

Q. Why did you use the Alphaworks platform to raise a portion of your funding round? — Eric Willis

When I decided to raise a seed round (wrapped ~8mo ago) I only wanted to raise money from people who use and really liked my product so I reached out to some of the institutional investors on Quibb and raised some money from them, along with some more ‘professional angels’ who use Quibb but… there was still a big group of people who qualified (i.e. they were accredited investors), but managing and doing all the diligence is costly and time consuming :( the alphaworks platform was great in that it allowed me to actually be in full control of the fundraising process, and open up a fair chunk ($100k) of the round to any of the members

Q. What do you think of The Information community and is there overlap there? What other communities do you overlap with? How do you think about online and offline community? (just reading answers now so if you answered any of these ignore the q’s) ☺— Erik Torenberg

RE: The Information — I don’t subscribe, so I’m not really sure ☺. I’ve heard they have some good events, like fireside chats, etc

RE: Online and offline — I never really realized in the beginning that I was building a community so the offline stuff came kinda as a surprise — a bunch of people on Quibb wanted to meet each other… and it was pretty obvious that I was the only one who could help make that happen ☺ so I threw a brunch, it went really well, people liked them… so I’ve been doing more!

It’s been really interesting to watch — I still remember at the first one; 2 people walked into the room and addressed each other by name and I was standing there, and said ‘oh, great! you already know each other!’ and they both responded ‘no, we’re meeting for the first time! we just kinda/sorta know each other from Quibb’ — I was so surprised, it was pretty neat

We’ve crossed the 30 minute mark. So we just want to thank you Sandi for doing this AMA.

Awesome ☺ that was fun. Thank you! Thanks for all the questions everyone!!

Next AMA is with:

Poornima — Founder of @Femgineer. Founder of @BizeeBee. Lecturer at @DukeU on entrepreneurship and engineering. Previously @mint founding engineer.— 4pm EST March 31st

If you enjoyed this AMA we would appreciate it if you recommend and share ☺

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