In the first of the GummySearch customer spotlight series, I'm excited to introduce CommunityValidated. Moritz & Matthias publish a weekly newsletter for early-stage builders that is both incredibly valuable to read, and also a match made in heaven with everything that GummySearch stands for.
If you are looking for new validated ideas, want to learn how to do this kind of analysis yourself, or if you already have a product and want to be the best version of the community-first founder you can be, I think you'll enjoy both this guest post and their amazing newsletter.
Enabling the community-first entrepreneur
Many businesses fail because they build something nobody wants, i.e. they solve problems nobody actually struggles with or problems that aren't critical to users (the painkiller vs. vitamin analogy). Oftentimes, the reason why founders build stuff nobody wants is that they simply "came up" with an idea, which is what YC calls "made-up" or "sitcom" startup ideas.
The solution to this fallacy is simple, but not easy: solve painful problems that exist in the life of real people. And this is where the community-first approach comes in handy. Building business community-first means embedding yourself in the communities of the people you want to build products or services for. People oftentimes use those communities to share their struggles, ask questions, and complain about the problems they're having. This is a goldmine for the budding entrepreneur: people talking about their problems and actively looking for solutions!
This community-first approach to entrepreneurship is rather novel but has been gaining traction in recent years through people like Arvid Kahl, Rosie Sherry, and Greg Isenberg. When we learned about it, we were directly inspired by this approach. We noticed that many entrepreneurs don't tap into this goldmine of data and build products community-first. Seeing this unused potential got us motivated to start CommunityValidated, a community research and business ideas newsletter.
Business opportunities in the fastest-growing online communities
In our weekly newsletter, we share validated problems that people struggle with and business ideas to solve those problems. We uncover those business opportunities in online communities and share our results in an easily digestible newsletter format.
We call the problems "validated" because we observe them empirically in online communities where people discuss their struggles and needs. This way, we avoid running the risk of projecting our own subjective beliefs on what counts as a problem worth solving. For the newsletter, we research different communities every week. Therefore, we learn about all kinds of communities, their cultures, values, goals, and struggles. Over the past months, we came to recognize and appreciate different facets of community research:
You can observe the smallest details that characterize people's problems and their ways of expressing their struggles. This micro-level of observation is extremely important for entrepreneurs because product design and marketing need to talk to users in a way that makes them feel genuinely understood.
Or you can take a quantitative approach and identify meta-trends across thousands of communities, posts, and comments. This macro-level of observation is equally important, since you want to build something around topics and communities that are growing in popularity.
Doing this kind of community research has sharpened our observation skills a lot. Not only that, we also learned to authentically engage with members of different communities. We consider these skills invaluable, as they help us understand people and their communities much better. In turn, this helps us spread the word of our newsletter without being perceived as self-promotional intruders.
Saving time during community research
Having said all of this, it's important to mention that community research is a very time-consuming process. There's no shortcut to properly understand what community members are all about and how to help them. However, there are shortcuts to the technical and methodological aspects of research, which can actually take as much time as the process of observing and analyzing. Two major technical elements to community research that take a lot of time are:
- Finding communities around a certain topic.
- Identifying relevant posts.
For the first issues of our newsletter, these two steps took a lot of time. There are countless communities with thousands of posts, and identifying those most relevant for us was tough. This required us to scroll through different communities and posts for hours. But then we got introduced to GummySearch and its maker, Fed.
GummySearch helps us go through the aforementioned research process in just a fraction of the time it used to take us. That's because we can find communities and posts based on keywords. This way, we can focus more on identifying the right keywords instead of scrolling through posts forever. Also, GummySearch lets us mark relevant posts, allowing us to have all the important posts saved in one place. This type of flawless research helps us save time and get the data we're looking for much more efficiently. We highly encourage everyone to check it out for themselves.
If you have any questions on our newsletter or methodology, feel free to contact us: email@example.com
- Matthias & Moritz