Since taking over operations of Lean Startup Circle SF and the global digital assets, we’ve been trying to figure out what to do with them.
There’s a lot that could be done, a lot that should be done, and a lot that I don’t really want to do. Community building is hard work and not for the faint of heart, or those with limited free time.
So here are the first four decisions we’ve made to help us focus:
- Lean Startup Circle is a startup and as such, we’ll run it as a lean startup.
- Lean Startup Circle management will be 100% transparent.
- Lean Startup Circle will charge for local events (we’re in charge of the SF chapter) but not the web assets.
- Decisions on Lean Startup Circle digital assets or other global issues will be deferred until later.
How can a Community be a Startup?
By saying Lean Startup Circle (LSC) is a startup, that’s not to make it a business (in the bad sense) or forget that it’s a community of people. We will treat it as a startup in order to insist on providing a Unique Value Proposition to our Community.
We will treat LSC as a startup in order to have actionable metrics regarding value creation. These must include Acquisition, Activation, Retention and so forth. We’ll treat LSC as a lean startup and try to make steady progress to improve the value by iterating steadily.
We’ll treat LSC as a startup so that we focus on the User Experience of our community members and how we can improve it.
How will decisions be made?
We are going to blog here about every big decision we make and the reasons for it. We’re also going to make any metrics we produce freely available (hopefully via a digital dashboard) so that everyone can understand how the community is developing and how the metrics effect decisions.
This is important because although LSC isn’t strictly non-profit, it is a community organization and making money has never been an organizational driver. So the community should be able to easily understand what’s going on and have input on the process.
So if taking sponsorship money or charging for events doesn’t provide value to the community, then the community has a right to know about it and be heard.
If LSC is a startup, our business model needs to be closely aligned with the community needs.
Otherwise the vision fails and we should shut it down.
Should We Charge for Local Community Event?
There are a few decision factors here. Frist, the obvious financials.
LSC has always charged $25 for local speaker events, with the proceeds of ~$1000 going to the organizers. While nobody is going to get rich off of throwing events, it’s nice to cover costs and we want to be able to invest the time and resources to make it a great event, rather than put in the minimal amount of effort.
Second, and more importantly, money is a proxy for value created.
If the events we throw aren’t worth paying for, they’re probably not worth throwing. If an event is like a feature of Lean Startup Circle, then if no one is willing to pay for the feature, we shouldn’t build it.
We should test out each speaker series, each new format or workshop, and quickly determine if the community finds it valuable. If not, we can pivot or persevere.
Perhaps a new feature, perhaps a new target customer!
What Should We Do with the Digital Assets?
As part of the LSC package we’ve inherited from Rich are a number of loosely coupled digital assets used worldwide. There are also a huge number of meetup groups with little to no connection between them and no global organization.
While it would be great to figure out a way to tie everything together, it makes no sense to do that until we know how to run the local organization efficiently. So for now, we’ll make no attempt to tie groups together, get sponsorship for the global assets, or otherwise make any big moves that would effect everyone.
The only thing I have personally started doing is simply tying together a number of the digital assets in terms of infrastructure. For example, the RSS from the Google Group is tied into @LeanStartup which is tied into the Facebook page.
Any questions? Send ‘em over!