Today, all companies are aware of the power of communities. And more importantly, all companies are able to create their own.
Take Venture Capital funds: these investment firms are surrounded by promising startups, in which they invest. Why not create a community experience to bring these companies together, share best practices and foster business opportunities within the portfolio? How can we, as investors, successfully engage a venture capital community?
To answer these questions, we've interviewed Jeanne Cluset, VC Associate at Kima Ventures. Created by Xavier Niel, Kima Ventures leads and engages a VC community of over 1,000 startups: here is their feedback and advice.
Community Building: the new hot topic
Community Building is based on one approach: federating a group of individuals around a common interest and shared values. This fast-growing concept is taking over all types of communities: communities of customers, communities of prospects, communities of employees, communities of partners, etc. But that's not the end of it.
Among the many aspects of community building, we also find communities of companies created by VCs. Today, investment funds like Kima Ventures are not only looking to invest money in hundreds of startups. These startups share common interests, goals and experiences. The challenge is to bring them together in tightly knitted communities.
"Our portfolio is not just a collection of companies. It is above all a real community of around 1,000 startups! We are committed to supporting the companies we invest in. But we don't know everything. So, creating a community has enabled us to connect startups with one another, to encourage best practice sharing and collective learning... A truly virtuous circle for everyone." - Jeanne Cluset, VC Associate at Kima Ventures
Venture Capital: why create your community of PortCos (portfolio companies)?
Kima Ventures portfolio companies have one thing in common. They are mainly startups in the pre-seed phase, eager to grow and nail their Go-To Market. Given their background and experience, these companies have a lot to share. For Kima Ventures, building on these synergies to create a venture capital community was an obvious choice.
The creation of a community of companies from the same investment portfolio allows to:
Multiply meetings and feedback: through digital tools and face-to-face events. For example, Kima Ventures has its own community platform, uses Slack for more direct exchanges and organises regular physical events.
Sharing resources more easily: communities are fuelled by highly relevant content generated by the admin or members themselves. For example, resources on innovation, market regulations or business strategies can be shared in multiple formats including articles, on-demand videos to watch or documents to download.
Continuous improvement: building a community helps with instant communication and feedback collection. For VC firms, it's a unique opportunity to learn from their portfolio startups (their issues, challenges, needs, etc.). Community members also learn from each other. It's a virtuous circle of learning and continuous improvement!
Encourage mutual support: on certain issues, members are more likely to help each other directly. The investment fund encourages this mutual help and collective solidarity.
Boosting individual growth: a community of companies created and run by VCs is a lever for Community-Led Growth. The growth of each member company is boosted, thanks to the VC community. The growth of the investment fund is also impacted and guided by the community: this is the challenge of Community-Led Growth.
How to run your business community, as an investment fund
Every year, VCs invest in many developing companies. Bringing these players together in a single community is a great initiative. But it is not enough to transform a portfolio of companies into a community... It must also be engaged and committed over time!
Here are 3 important levers to grow and engage a community as a VC, highlighted by Jeanne Cluset (Kima Ventures):
Create a memorable onboarding experience
Onboarding community members is a formidable tipping point. You know the saying: you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!
To facilitate the integration of its community members, Kima Ventures has switched from individual to collective onboarding. Every month, new members are welcomed together during a virtual event (demo and remote talk), followed by an in-person afterwork (if possible).
This collective onboarding experience immerses members directly in a community dynamic. This practice contributes to forging strong links, right from the creation of the community.
Facilitating instant communication
To create a successful community, it is essential to offer a seamless experience. At any time, members should be able to turn to their trusted partners in the community. Facilitating the ability to share continuously is therefore essential.
To drive seamless and continuous communication, tools are needed. This is why, at MeltingSpot, we offer a community platform that facilitates interaction and content sharing. Each investment fund can create its own community from within MeltingSpot, and engage it by hosting all sorts of lives, sharing interesting resources, creation discussion groups... In order to share the right content, in the right place, to the right person, at the right time.
The ultimate goal is simple: allow each member to talk easily and freely with an intuitive tool far from the noise and anonymity of social networks. In a world where 10,000 tweets are posted every second and 100 million Instagram photos per day... Engaging your community on a dedicated platform is a must!
Organise regular events
It's time for digital transformation, but let's not forget what "really" matters: the creation of solid and long-lasting links, far from screens. To animate a startup community, VCs have strong interests in creating face-to-face meetings.
For Kima Ventures, "real-life meetings can change everything. It is important to facilitate these face-to-face moments with the community, as regularly as possible.
For example, why not organise quarterly breakfasts on a specific topic? Or a monthly afterwork dedicated to companies in the same sector, to stimulate best practice sharing? Or an annual celebration event to bring together all the members of the community?
VC community: 3 final tips, to create and engage yours
Now you know why you should consider turning your portfolio of companies into a highly engaged community. But, if as a VC, you're still hesitant to take action... Here are 3 final tips to jump aboard the Community-Led Growth revolution, which MeltingSpot and Kima Ventures are aligned on:
1- Don't listen to conventional wisdom
Each community has its own codes and goals. For example, the FoodTech community Smart Kaps relies on a community of prospects, to market its first product. The customer community of the company Papa Outang transforms its community of B2C customers into shareholders, to boost its growth. Finally, GitHub's B2B community facilitates collaboration between developers around the world.
Same goes with communities created by investment funds: each community has its own codes and its own objectives. So, a word of advice: when you start out, don't listen to conventional wisdom.
Each Community-Led Growth strategy deserves to be tested, without listening to the injunctions of other players in the same sector. Indeed, what doesn't work for some communities may work for others. To federate, animate and engage, you get the idea: test, improve and start again!
2- Ask for continuous feedback
Community-Led Growth is not a top-down strategy. Members need to be part of the community building experience and co-construct with the company (like an investment fund). It is therefore a collaborative project. To co-create the most engaged community, be sure to listen up to your members!
Collecting continuous feedback is a must. To do this, don't hesitate to create appropriate discussion groups (by location, area of interest, job title, etc.). The more you listen to members, the more you will be able to offer personalised experiences. Whatever your community goal (lead conversion, support call deflection, product development...), the ROI (return on investment) of your community is always tightly correlated with your ability to provide value to your members, so start by collecting their needs!
3- Find the right people and the right tool to get started
As with all communities, investment fund communities do not run by themselves. To create, animate and engage effectively and sustainably, it is essential to source the right community builder(s) and a fitted community platform.
Community Builder has emerged as a pivotal role in the tech industry. The Community Builder embodies the voice of the company, ensures the deployment of a proper Community-Led Growth strategy, runs a variety of actions for the community and ensures that the objectives and ROI are achieved over time.
At the same time, community management must rely on tools designed for this purpose. Social networks are increasingly crowed, less and less adapted to community strategies and tend to fall short of member expectations and companies alike. To offer meaningful experiences, it's highly recommended to use a proper Community Platform.
To find out more about our community platform and see how MeltingSpot can adapt to your communities (community of founders on the VC side, prospects or users on the portfolio side), visit our website, request a demo or give our platform a test drive!