Among the many aspects of Community Building are the communities of founders created by VCs.
Today, all companies are affected by the power of communities. And, more importantly, all companies have THE power to create their own.
Let's take venture capital (VC) firms as an example: these investment firms are surrounded by promising startups in which they invest. But why create a community experience that gathers these companies together? How can we, as investors, successfully engage a community? To answer these questions, we interviewed Jeanne Cluset, VC Associate at Kima Ventures. Founded by Xavier Niel, Kima Ventures fosters and engages a community of over 1,000 startups: here is their experience and advice.
The Multiple Facets of Community Building
Community Building is based on an approach: bringing a group of individuals together around a common interest and shared values. This rising concept applies to all types of communities: customer communities, prospect communities, employee communities, partner communities... But that's not all!
Among the various facets of Community Building, we also find communities of founders created by VCs. Today, investment funds like Kima Ventures are not just looking to invest money in hundreds of startups. These startups share common interests, goals, and experiences. The challenge is to unite them within close-knit communities.
"Our business portfolio is not just a portfolio. It is, above all, a real community of around 1,000 startups! We serve as anchors for the companies we support. But we don't know everything. So, creating a community has enabled us to connect startups with each other, foster shared experiences, collective learning... a real virtuous circle for everyone." - Jeanne Cluset, VC Associate at Kima Ventures
VC: Why Create Your Own Founder Community?
The companies in which Kima Ventures invests have one thing in common. They are mainly pre-seed startups looking to grow and achieve a Go-To Market. Given their journeys and experiences, these companies have a lot to share. For Kima Ventures, building on these common bonds to create a community was a natural choice.
Creating a community of companies from the same investment portfolio allows you to:
- Multiply meetings and feedback: thanks to digital tools and in-person events. For example, Kima Ventures has its own community platform, uses Slack for more direct communication, and regularly organizes physical events.
- Easily share resources: the community enables the sharing of resources, relevant content, and useful information. For example, resources on innovation, market regulations, or business strategies can be shared as videos to watch or documents to download.
- Continuously improve: the investment fund learns from the startups in its community (their challenges, desires, needs, etc.). Community members also learn from each other. It's a virtuous circle of learning and continuous improvement!
- Encourage mutual support: on certain topics, members are better equipped to help each other directly. The investment fund encourages this spirit of mutual aid and collective solidarity.
- Boost growth: a community of companies created and nurtured by VCs is a lever for Community-Led Growth. The growth of each member company is boosted by the community. The growth of the investment fund is also impacted and guided by the community: that's the whole point of Community-Led Growth.
How to Engage Your Community of Founders as an Investment Fund?
Every year, VCs invest in countless growing companies. Bringing their founders together in a single community is an excellent initiative. But it's not enough to transform a portfolio of companies into a community... You also need to engage and sustain it over time!
Here are three important levers for engaging a community as a VC, highlighted by Jeanne Cluset (Kima Ventures):
Create a memorable onboarding process
Onboarding community members is a critical turning point. You know the saying: you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!
To help its community members get off to a good start, Kima Ventures has switched from individual to collective onboarding. Every month, new members are welcomed together at a virtual event (remote demo and exchange), followed by an after-work event (if possible) in person.
This collective onboarding experience plunges members directly into a community spirit. This practice builds strong bonds right from the start.
Facilitate continuous exchange
To create a successful community, it's essential to provide a seamless experience. At any time, members should be able to turn to their trusted partners within the community. Facilitating the ability to exchange continuously is, therefore, crucial.
To engage a community through continuous exchange, tools are needed. That's why, at MeltingSpot, we offer a community platform that encourages interactions and sharing. Each investment fund can create its own community from MeltingSpot, then nurture it by organizing live events, sharing relevant resources, and allowing group discussions... all to deliver the right content to the right person at the right place and time. The ultimate goal is simple: enable every member to exchange easily and openly. All thanks to an intuitive tool that breaks away from the noise of social networks. In a world where 10,000 tweets are posted every second and 100 million Instagram photos are shared daily... engaging your community on a dedicated platform is the way to go!
Organize regular events
This is a time of digital transformation, but let's not forget what truly matters: creating strong and lasting bonds beyond screens. To engage a community of startups, VCs gain by organizing in-person meeting moments.
For Kima Ventures, "real-life meetings can change everything. It's important to make these in-person moments with the community as regularly as possible."
For example, why not organize quarterly themed breakfasts? Or a monthly after-work dedicated to companies in the same sector to inspire the exchange of best practices? Or even an annual celebration event to bring all community members together?
VC: 3 Final Tips for Creating and Nurturing Your Community
You now know why you should turn a portfolio of companies into a close-knit community. But if you're still hesitant as a VC to take action... here are three final tips for Community-Led Growth that MeltingSpot and Kima Ventures align with:
1- Don't listen to conventional wisdom
Every community has its own codes and objectives. For example, the FoodTech Smart Kaps community relies on a community of prospects to market its first product. The customer community of Papa Outang transforms its B2C customer community into shareholders to boost its growth. Finally, GitHub's B2B community enables developers from all over the world to work together.
For communities created by investment funds, the same applies: each community has its own codes and objectives. So, here's a piece of advice: when you embark on this journey, don't listen to conventional wisdom.
Every Community-Led Growth strategy deserves to be tested, without heeding the advice of others in the same sector. What doesn't work for some communities may work for others. To unite, engage, and grow, you've got the idea: test, improve, and repeat!
2- Seek Continuous Feedback
Community-Led Growth is not a top-down strategy. Members co-create the community with the company (such as an investment fund). It is, therefore, a collaborative project. So, to co-create the most engaged community, remember to listen to the members!
Collecting continuous feedback is an essential process. To achieve this, feel free to create themed discussion groups (by perks, by city, etc.). The more you listen to the members, the more you will be able to offer personalized experiences. The return on investment (ROI) of a community is also more favorable when the strategy is based on listening and addressing the needs.
3- Surround and Equip Yourself with Community Builders and Community Platforms
Just like all communities, founder communities do not thrive on their own. To effectively and sustainably create, engage, and grow, it is essential to surround yourself and equip yourself.
To engage the community on a daily basis, a Community Builder is essential. This is a key role that embodies the company's voice to the members. The Community Builder ensures that the Community-Led Growth strategy is properly deployed, develops caring actions for the community, and ensures the achievement of objectives and ROI over time. At the same time, community management should rely on tools designed for this purpose. Social networks are becoming less suitable for community strategies and member expectations, just as they are for businesses. To offer relevant and tailored experiences, Community Platforms are the ideal solution.
To discover our community platform that adapts to the needs of all communities (founder community for VCs, prospect community for SAAS side, user community Product Management), visit MeltingSpot.