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How To Build Community From Scratch

How To Build Community From Scratch

by Greg IsenbergMay 8, 2021

I’ve help build internet communities that have generated hundreds of millions of members

The most often question I get asked is:

But Greg - how do I build a community from scratch?!

Here's what I usually say:

First, why you should care about community:

  • It's the best way to build a movement
  • It supercharges word-of-mouth
  • People want community more now than ever
  • Products built on-top of communities scale fast

If you unlock community, it's an unfair advantage

Img: @gapingvoid

Start small. Start tiny.

95% of communities can start as a simple group chat

A community only needs a shared purpose and a place to thrive

Don’t overthink it

Weak community leadership kills communities

6 qualities of high-performing community leaders I’ve noticed:

  1. Captivating
  2. Consistent
  3. Loud
  4. Obsessed with the mission/people
  5. Relentlessly helpful
  6. Sincere

Invite-only works

95% of communities should begin as waitlists. B2B or B2C. Doesn’t matter

Exclusivity and scarcity drives demand

Tip: waitlist communities outperform

Merch supercharges communities

You’d be surprised what designing incredible merch can do to a community

It gives them a “raison d’etre”

Example: @100Thieves

Tip: hire streetwear designers to design your merch

Get members where they want to go

The secret to community design: get members where they want to go (ie: milestones etc)

The best communities: move members

Who we are

I’ve never found a community that thrived that didn’t have a compelling “who we are” story

Key points:

  • Describe the future utopia
  • Describe the cause with passion
  • Amplify the real reason they exist

Tip: tighten your who we are story and terrific things happen

Not all founding members are equal

Example: Clubhouse recruited well-known tech people in April 2020 and gave them a virtual place to hang out

Tip: your first members set the tone. Choose wisely

Community/market fit

Founders obsess about product/market fit. But don’t obsess enough about community/market fit

How to build a startup in 2021:

  1. Community/market fit
  2. Product/market fit
  3. Scale

Design rituals

Being in a Zoom call together isn’t community building

The goal: Create daily/weekly rituals that make people feel alive and grateful to be apart of the community


  1. Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong
  2. The long term win is in building a community
  3. Building a community is where art meets science. It's perfectly do-able

If you enjoyed this thread, share with your friends. The world needs more communities not less :)

Stay Awhile

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