David Spinks, CMX

The Lunch that (almost) made me Stop my next Startup

If you think about starting your business, you will have one of those moments when you are deeply in doubt. You’re almost convinced you should stop and it will fail. And you failed before so many times you know it will happen.

This just happened to me. I’m so excited about the new thing I’m working on that it becomes, as it should, an obsession. I talk to everyone I meet about it and ask for feedback. In case you did not follow, it’s about discovering new people doing amazing things (I’m only sharing about it by email for n0w so if you’re curious register on the link above).

I love online communities. Of course I want my new startup, Leade.rs, to be extremely driven by a community.

If there is one person on the planet that knows communities, it’s David Spinks. I don’t know anyone who knows “community management” (even though you don’t manage community) than David. He has two conferences focusing on Community Professionals and built himself the best community of mmm… Community Professionals.

So I have a lunch today with David, mostly to catchup with him, but instead I’m getting free advice on Leade.rs.

What’s your end goal? -David asks

“I want to create the best place to discover new amazing people” -I say

David has a huge experience in communities and he starts explaining to me why Product Hunt (entirely community driven) was such a success. Product Hunt is an incredible source of inspiration for me, I’m so happy I met one of the co-founders, Ryan yesterday.

Then I tell David how I’m hoping a community will help me find those talents as there is a community on Product Hunt who finds new products all the time.

Here’s David spending the second half of the lunch destroying my hopes:

  • will people have a motivation to contribute? Most people want a community but most of the time they put their own end goal center and forget to see that they’re different to “people” who actually don’t care so much
  • a community starts with a strong identity they share. I don’t see any strong shared identity between “people who want to discover great people doing amazing things”
  • who are the “curators” of your community and will they be proud to be “curators’? What brings them together?
  • does your project scale to things people really care about so they spend time regularly on it?
  • how does it make people feel special and important?
  • why would curators post on your site and what would they get out of it?
  • Ryan Hoover already had a strong community of people with the same interest (finding new products) when he started Product Hunt

Those are all great points.

David explained to me how important it is to understand if there are any strong motivations of community members to post before even thinking about a community.

It’s a good reminder and David knows his space very well.

I ended the lunch somehow depressed that I want to build something no-one except me will want to contribute to.

Good news is I’m not taking any funding, so worst case it will just be a service that is helpful for… one user. Me.

I’m still building it. With caution. I’m grateful for the advice and time, thanks David.

Oh and yes I will fail. Every day. It’s all about failing and moving non stop to find what works.