Five active communities for founders and startups
If you are a founder or work at an early stage startup, your day is probably primarily filled with lots of important questions. Maybe you have a good answer. Often, you don't. How do I get new users? Does my landing page make sense? How can I get more traffic to my blog posts? How do I talk to users?
My old strategy to try and answer these questions was searching for relevant articles. Recently I've been spending more time in communities and forums to get this advice instead. I am enjoying this method much better. There are a few reasons for this. First, someone may not have written anything useful about your challenge, whereas someone in a forum has overcome that exact obstacle before and can share their experience. Also, forums allow for follow-ups and gain you more connections. You can arrange for further chats, and also give back with your expertise. Finally, and selfishly, it is another way to get your brand out there. Of course, this shouldn't be your primary goal, and generally, it is evident in those communities who's there to sell, versus who is there to learn, support and engage, but it is a nice byproduct.
With that in mind, here are the communities I frequent, and what I like about them.
PH is a great community of makers and product lovers. The primary offering is the homepage, where users submit products daily, and the community votes, comments and rates them. It is a way to debut your new product or business to the world.
The goal is to get the coveted top product of the day/week/month/year, which will get you a ton of visibility on the page and in the PH newsletter. At my last startup, we managed to get in the top 10 on the day we launched. We attributed about 500 new signups to our Product Hunt launch — some things to keep in mind about this, however. First, you will need to promote your PH launch a bit, so be prepared to hit up your friends, existing users, and anyone else you can think of to share your product submission and review your product.
In addition to the home page, Product Hunt has a tool called Ship. The best way to describe it is a toolkit to help makers launch products. You can quickly build a coming soon/landing page that allows people to share their email addresses. Once subscribed, you can then survey these users, send them updates, and share your launch on the full Product Hunt site.
For paid plans (which we used) Product Hunt will feature your upcoming page on their homepage. We wanted to try this out, and the results have been pretty good. In a month or so, we had about 100 people pre-register. However, the other paid plan tools are relatively weak, such as they survey and update tools. Ship itself is quite buggy as well. We'll continue to pay for it as it lets you have unlimited projects. We've been using it for clients, and will also try some growth marketing strategies with Ship.
Finally, there is the maker forum. Here you can post questions and polls, and discuss best practices with other makers. It is a great community, and one of the best sources of feedback I've come across.
The first thing that I loved about Indie Hackers is the design and UI. Beyond that, the content and community are great for anyone starting out building a new product. You can share your product here and post your milestones. There are real-life meetups, in addition to online groups dedicated to landing page feedback, growth, design, revenue, and any other challenge you'll face as a founder or maker.
Mind the Product Slack
MtP is primarily a company that delivers conferences, events and training for product managers. They are generally all a bit out of my price range. However, they run free ProductTank events in cities all over the world, as well as host a very active Slack community.
Channels range from onboarding, content, monetization, tools, launching, and much more. It is a great place for product managers to get feedback, as well as post your resources, content or product launch.
Y Combinator Startup School Forum
The world's most famous accelerator also runs an online 8-week course for founders called startup school. Tom and I here at Taskable are part of the winter 2020 cohort this time around, and so far it has been great. You post weekly updates/check-ins that help keep you focused, and participate in group sessions with other founders.
Also, there is a very active forum where you can get feedback on your product, share your launch, and get early adopters. Since everyone is in the same boat more or less, there is a ton of support and camaraderie. If you are too late for this cohort, definitely make it a point to join the next one if you are starting something new.
Tech London Slack
A bit location-specific, but I love this group. The marketing channel is excellent. There are several active posters there with a bunch of great insights and information to share. The feedback channel is also super active and supportive. I've received a bunch of great feedback on our landing page and generated survey responses there. The shameless plug channel is great for launching your startup or sharing your blog post as well. They even have events occasionally. If you are London/UK based or adjacent, I highly recommend it.
How about you?
We'd love to add to this list. Please send us an email with your favorite communities as well!