Community Membership Update

It’s been a month since I launched our new Community Membership and made a push to focus on growing the participation in the space. So far, here’s what’s happened:

Sales Process

When someone shows up at NWC to check out the space, whoever’s working the front desk at the moment gives them a tour and tells them a little about membership. At the end of the tour, we used to direct them to a special page where they can pay for a Day Pass or sign up for a membership. We left it up to them to decide from there.

The vast majority of the time, people would purchase a Day Pass. We didn’t push membership on anyone, but made it available to those who sought it out.

In the new way of doing things, we ask for the visitor’s email address before they go to set up and get online. We then send them an email with information about how to either purchase a Day Pass or sign up for membership, and include some basic information. In this scheme, the visitor sees the two options as equally viable paths.

More importantly, we talk to them about their options and let them know that signing up for a membership gets them in on all of the online and offline benefits of being a part of the community. We make it clear to them that they’re in total control, and it’s up to them when to sign up and cancel– all we really do is keep track of things.

What I’ve noticed is that, with the new membership, it’s a lot easier to help people understand that membership and space are two different things– and even if you don’t need the workspace on a regular basis, you can still be a member. It’s a subtle shift that has had big effects in how I talk about things with newcomers.

New Members

11 people have signed up for the new membership. If you include the folks who had the original community membership, we’re up to 19 members at that level. We also added 12 new people at other membership levels, making April a surprisingly big month in terms of growth.

Participation

The last few weeks have been incredible from a participation standpoint. More and more members are stepping up to organize some really awesome things, and fellow members are showing up and helping out. In just the past month, the following things happened:

  • I hosted a Town Hall in which I had no big announcements to make, and expected a small turnout. 22 people showed up, and we had a really great conversation about a lot of things– including some gatherings that members were inspired to plan.
  • Brian organized a Show & Tell and lassoed together five members to show off what they were working on. He put everything together himself, and even set up the space and got the projector working– and the turnout was nuts. There were something like 30 people there, all members– probably the most NWC members in one place for an event ever. Also, the presentations were amazing. Check out a summary here.
  • Harry organized a happy hour at a local bar for a small group. Some folks left early; other’s arrived late. I ended up sharing drinks with some really amazing folks who I’ve been trying to grab a drink with for the longest time, and thankfully we managed to have some really fun conversations about stuff other than work and tech.
  • Claudina organized NYC’s first Sass and Compass meetup and it was a huge success!
  • John and Jacqueline and I started an experiment in behavioral gaming, each picking a healthy habit we want to develop and assigning a point system for us to track each other’s progress. John’s an incredible designer who has put together some really beautiful stuff to help us manage things; I can’t wait to share our experiment with the rest of the group in a few weeks!
  • Alex organized a Startup Support Group last night. I wasn’t there, but I do know that they are meeting again in a week and are putting together an internal wiki for sharing resources for startups. Awesome!

Upcoming 

I’m really loving the direction we’re heading and thinking a lot about where we can go from here. When you separate membership from space, it becomes possible to grow the community without having to grow the space. Which is a good thing, because the community is the thing I care about making awesomer!

I’m not much of a salesman, but for $30 a month, all of that and a day pass sounds like  a pretty sweet deal to me. Not focusing on maximizing profits makes it easy to offer something that’s worth more than we charge.

And all signs point to it getting better. All of the above gatherings are going to be happening again on a regular basis, which is super awesome, and there’s more to come.

Also: you don’t know what Boomshakalaka Ball is yet, but you will.

Boomshakalaka!

 

Giving and Giving Back

Originally posted here.

A lot of people have given me and NWC so much to get us to where we are today. Hundreds of people have poured their time, money, blog posts, tweets, car rides, manual labor, expertise, advice, spare belongings, weekends, emotion, energy, and so much more into something that they believe in.

For many, this is an investment into something that they intend to continue to participate in and benefit from. We’re now a much bigger group of people who all have a shared interest in making NWC succeed. For some, the help they’ve given NWC has been purely out of an interest in seeing it become a success– even if, because of geographic, professional, or other circumstances, they might never be able to participate in or benefit from it directly themselves.

People have done things that I’ve barely had a chance to thank them for. There are emails in my inbox waiting for responses that just have to wait.

I don’t really know how to properly repay or even acknowledge the people who deserve it. I’m certain, actually, that I can’t.

This frustrates me a lot.

One thing I know I can do is to continue to do everything in my power to make NWC what we all want and need it to be. It will never be perfect, but it will always be ours, and I’ll always be working on making it a better and better.

We open for business on Wednesday. A lot of the space won’t be pretty, and a lot of it won’t be finished. But it will improve every single day.

Starting Wednesday, I will be setting out to give back. Not just to the people who have helped to date, but to people just discovering us for the first time. The best thing I can do, I think, is to pay it forward and try my best to be what everyone expects me to be.

Thank you, all of you, for everything you’ve done for me and for NWC. I’m humbled by your overwhelming love and support. I can’t say I’m convinced that I deserve it all, but I’m going to do my best to earn it.