How 2 Startups Use Community To Build Their Brand
All around us, we see the power of people doing great things once they are plugged into a community and they help each other. In this post I'll spotlight two startups that meet the needs of passion and trigger communities. Both are excellent examples of how a brand is designed to meet the needs of a community, and in turn that community is more likely to embrace that brand.
Tech Ladies and Community
It is no secret that women are under represented in the technology industry. I remember sitting in an educational technology conference where Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, shot a few statistics on the screen.
Five years from now 1.4 million jobs will be open in the U.S. in computing related fields.
Twenty nine percent of those job will be filled with U.S. graduates. Three percent will be filled by women.
Now let's consider the working conditions for the less than 3 percent of women currently working in technology. The 2016 Elephant in The Valley study, brought about from the Ellen Pao & KCPB trial, reported that an overwhelming number of women experienced harassment and exclusion.
This is the community that Allison Esposito was thinking of when she started meeting over coffee with like-minded professionals that she connected with on Twitter. As discussed in this Buffer podcast, through those professionally related conversations, the inherently community-based Tech Ladies was born connecting together women in technology.
How did this happen?
Allison said "It really all has been done on social media." Any time Allison took a step to grow Tech Ladies, she wrote a Medium post and reached out to her Tech Ladies community with a newsletter.
Today Tech Ladies is a 25,000-strong online community supporting women working in technology. The model of joining and meeting the needs of a community is at the heart of this startup and is the backbone of it's success.
Kwema and Community
Violence against women is the deeply troubling problem that Kwema aims to fight. In many countries around the world, women are not able to walk through the streets unaccompanied without fear of being harassed or assaulted. The statistics in the United States are alarming. According to UN Women,
83 percent of girls ages 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
As stated on Kwema's website, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics,
1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college, and most of the time it is by a fellow student.
This is the situation that Carmiña Santamaría was troubled by when she thought of an app and related jewelry that would make women and girls safer. Kwema, now available for free in the Apple App Store and in Google Play, connects people with their personal network and 911 if/when they are in a threatening situation. There is also a community-based safety bracelet available for purchase that pairs with the app when a hidden button is pressed.
The app works in a way that for one person to be set up, all of their contacts need to also have the app. I personally found that my friends and family readily downloaded and registered on the app, because they wanted to help me out. This is exponentially multiplying the downloads that Kwema gets.
Emphasizing community, in a personal communication Santamaría described Kwema as the solution to the most pressing problem of prevention.
There's a crowd out there interested in being part of the solution. We're harnessing this crowd through our platform. Kwema's app is about building safety networks where people nearby can act as first responders in emergency situations. [Because] One thing is true: We need everyone involved."
Similar to the grassroots marketing of Kiehl's cosmetics, mentioned in a previous post, the community connections are creating a strong backing around the Kwema brand and building an inherent system of loyalty, authenticity, and innovation.
Tech Ladies and Kwema exemplify how community connections drive successful brand loyalty, authenticity, and innovation. What about your brand? Whatever your product is, I think that you'll find that community engagement is a key to successfully marketing your product.