Product Hunt Radio
Aug 27, 2019

How building a community can supercharge your business with Gina Bianchini


Gina Bianchini is the founder of community building platform Mighty Networks and previously co founder of Ning.

This interview on Product Hunt Radio is, not surprisingly, all about community. And it’s importance in building a differentiated business.

(more than) 3 lessons…

  • When you have a community around your product, you’ll get a deeper understanding of how your customers are using it to get results. You’ll be able to develop it *with* your customers and anticipate issues.
  • There’s no substitute for talking to people / watching people talk to each other as a way to find your messaging and positioning.
  • From the 28:50 mark there’s a great section on going narrow with your market i.e. niching down.
  • Many entrepreneurs are afraid to go narrow because they believe niche means small and they won’t be able to expand later. Niche or narrow in this context means specific. Not small. And it’s always possible to add niches later.
  • “Go broad to begin with and the probability you’re going to die is super high. You’ll die slowly and painfully.” Why? Because nobody knows who your product is for. They see themselves as unique and your product doesn’t talk to their uniqueness.
  • Extreme example of a product that started narrow and then expanded – Facebook started for 1 dorm in 1 college.

On this episode Abadesi talks to Gina Bianchini, a serial entrepreneur and an investor. She is founder and CEO of Mighty Networks, a platform for building communities. She also co-founded Ning and has been an entrepreneur in residence at Andreessen Horowitz.

In this episode they talk about...

The emerging trend of community-powered businesses

“They’ve taken their personal experience and their personal story, combined it with expertise, and now there are people who are really excited to master or learn that topic together with other people in their community.”

Gina says that the next big trend in business is experiential commerce. She says that it’s a myth that building a community is hard and talks about some of the non-traditional ways to build one. She also explains the many benefits of creating a community around your business.

Why it’s important to stay laser-focused on the results your customers want

“How am I enabling the people using my product to have results they cannot otherwise achieve? If you have that, you can charge money for your community, you can charge more money for your product or service. It’s understanding how you are enabling your users to go from point A to point B.”

Gina talks about some of the different approaches a maker can take to community-building but says the most important one is to notice what your customers’ needs are, what they’re looking to get out of the community, and how that intersects with what you can provide.

How a community helps build your brand

“A brand is how people talk about you when you’re not in the room. Here’s the amazing thing about investing in a community early on. You’re not just talking to your customer but you’re a part of a conversation where your customers are talking to other customers. You will understand so much more clearly what the people you serve need from your brand.”

She says there’s no substitute for watching your customers talk to each other and listen to the specific words they’re using and exactly how they’re describing what they need. Observing your customers is made much easier when you are hosting the community. She also says that building a community off of the social media platforms is a better approach than trying to build on a monolithic platform like Facebook.

Why it’s okay (and preferred!) to start small

“There is no niche that is too small in 2019. There are 22 million people and brands that have over a million followers on Instagram. There are 147 million accounts with over 10,000 followers.”

She talks about some of the lessons she learned from Ning, and explains why there was a “moment in 2007” where you could build a community for a broad swath of people but that moment has long passed. She says that not only is it easier to start small, it’s the only route to success.

Gina also talks about some of her favorite products, why Instagram Stories has replaced TV for her, and some of her favorite accounts to follow on Instagram.

We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 😸