Role of a Community Builder in the Startup Ecosystem
Communities are a huge part of our lives. We may not know it, but at some point or the other, we have been a part of it. Be it as a part of events, the management, or hosting people at home, communities defined our social existence.
In that sense, communities are a shared space for individuals of all backgrounds, to solve common problems or discuss topics of common interest. Community builders are the ones who bring people together to form communities and facilitate conversations between the members.
Recently, I had the opportunity to invite some amazing community builders to a webinar hosted by Headstart Network Foundation. Moderated by Arzoo Jain, the panelists included Neha Agarwal from Quora, Nipun Goyal from Likeminds, and Sourabh Goyal from The Goalchy Club.
A little about our panelists, Neha is currently working at Quora under the vernacular languages team. She before worked at Babychakra and comes from an HR background. Nipun is a serial entrepreneur and, the CEO and founder of Likeminds. Sourabh is the founder of SuccessBrew, a coach and community builder. He started The Goalchy Club with the aim of connecting people of all age groups and comes from a sales background.
Starting with Neha, she believes that community building is for everyone. Background does not matter when it comes to community building. She herself “stumbled upon community building” and she hasn’t looked back. Neha focuses on the business aspect of the community in order to derive the most out of the business. It is a selfless sort of work, however, the work has no meaning if the community cannot derive the benefits. For a community builder, the returns on investment should be for the business and the community not the builder themselves. She believes that companies will realize why they need community professionals sooner or later. The faster they realize, the better the benefits they will reap. Upon asking for her strategy for different companies, she said that everything boils down to the vision and mission of the company. The day-to-day plan itself becomes vastly different depending on the nature of the company. It is rather fun to mold oneself into the shape of the company one wants to work with.
Coming to Nipun, he always had a background in and a knack for community building. Like his house which was open to all guests, he formed the largest network of Indian doctors. He believes that in a time when people were not very accustomed to the idea of being online, the pandemic helped greatly. Earlier people were only thinking of offline events and bringing people of those communities closer. However, the pandemic allowed for communities to be formed online and for platforms to be developed for the same. That has made it easier for people to find solutions within online communities. When he was asked about his opinions on the usage of platforms, he responded that making a platform is like developing a city/world. It is complex, intricate, and connected in every possible way. It is also important to be present in the communities to control the flow of the conversation. This is mainly done to keep the engagement and communication in the community alive.
Lastly, Sourabh had some very different views from Neha. Sourabh sees the whole community building industry as very giving. The builder does not want anything in return, yet helps the members of the community to the best of his abilities. He believes that communities have always existed in the form of religious groups. In the most basic sense, a community requires a lot of empathy and the ability to understand the deeper level of problems that members might have. Sourabh believes that the main task of a community is to be the background support system for the community members. It is like seeing the community as a support group where hundreds of people understand the situation, some of whom may have been through it too. He explains the whole profession to be noble and humanitarian.
The three panelists had a wide variety of views and opinions. Some conflicted, and some overlapped. Yet, the talk left a lot of points to think about. In a world where the pandemic raged and people’s lives were disturbed, the idea of being part of a community for support and help seems very reassuring. A company that requires thorough marketing and product engagement will know what the need of the users is. With the idea of helping people at its core, these community builders are changing the world, one person at a time.