Don't Shy Away from Collaboration!
And more advice from Katrin de Haën
Changemaker + Co-Founder at The Fourth Floor. The Fourth Floor is an innovative membership community with a mission to get more women on boards, more investment in female founders, and more opportunities for women to create wealth. They are introducing a new product, Spread the Love Sheet, where founders can list their dream introductions and where those dreams can come true with the belief that sometimes it only takes one introduction to propel a startup to stardom.
1.Don't be too prescriptive.
Everything you do should be aligned with your mission, but don't try to dictate how people interact in the community. It is best to let them teach you and show you how they want to interact. Your ideas or biases might not be on point. We assumed that people just wanted to be transactional with board seats or investments, but ultimately we learned that the community wanted to support each other in building those roles. People are not so concerned about how much time that may take. They are very interested in getting to know each other, strategizing, helping each other, and sharing resources.
2.Don't rush to exclude!
You need to have parameters and guidelines in place, but things aren't black and white. People all have their own stories. So, if you are on the fence about someone, err on the side of inclusion. We have come across applicants that were on the borderline of our acceptance perimeters and could have easily turned away. Instead, we invited them in and they are super members and champions at really helping us, which has been very rewarding.
3.Don't price your membership without getting feedback.
Trying to price an online community has been difficult because you are not just tethered to fixed costs. Don't solely rely on your own biases; go to your community, go to your trusted members—the ones who have been your champions, and get a lot of feedback from them. Find out what they value and how they would value membership, so you don't add your biases of what you think it is worth. As you add value to your community and you have more programming, that price can change.
4.Don't forget to build out your advisory board.
Not enough founders know that they need an advisory board. Build your advisory board, then actually use them. Founders don't necessarily get the maximum use out of them.
The Fourth Floor started as a community to exchange board seats by getting womxn founders and advisors together, and are now bringing in an investment arm to fill out the ecosystem. It is about supporting those womxn founders by getting them advisors with experience, credibility, and networks, and getting those advisors board seats to build their board careers and to drive more investment in womxn founders.
5.Don't shy away from collaboration.
Collaborate with other communities even if they seem similar to yours. We believe in collaboration over competition. We work with Ellevate, Luminary, Dreamers and Doers, and the ChIPs organization. Everyone has so much to offer, and that is who we reached out to when we were deciding on pricing for The Fourth Floor. People were generous with their advice. It has fostered this relationship of giving. There are a lot of partnerships coming out of working together. It is not something you think of doing, collaborating with your competition, but it can be very beneficial.