Three years curating Startup BCN, Barcelona's biggest online community for startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers
Captain's log, stardate d320.y38/AB
Time flies. It seems only yesterday when we launched a test to see if startups and entrepreneurs from and in Barcelona would connect over an online community.
Well over three years in, the answer is yes. They do.
In October 2015, we launched the first version of Startups BCN, an online space for startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers in Barcelona, to see if that would make sense.
The original intention was to have attendees of Startup Grind Barcelona connect between events and continue the conversations they started at our monthly meetups.
Since the Startup Grind Barcelona event happens once per month, some conversations were interrupted and people didn't want to wait for the next month to pick up from where they left off. Worst of all, what happens when the other person doesn't show up at the next event?
I thought it'd be nice to empower our community and give them an online space to talk, to ask for help for their projects, post their job openings and share interesting findings, such as podcasts, articles or videos. But our very own CTO, Xavi, brought up a very good question: why don't we open it up to every community in Barcelona?
What is it exactly?
We bootstrapped a very simple online signup process combining Typeform, to automatise the sending of the invites to the community, with the community platform itself, which is nothing more than a Slack instance.
This Slack community, shortly thereafter christened as Startup BCN, has been growing organically since October 2015. We receive about a dozen signups per week, which come from a few links we've set on our email signatures, our website and maybe a couple of other places.
I also invite personally entrepreneurs looking for resources, advice and pretty much that can be crowdsourced, as entrepreneurship is a lonely voyage on a windy road, and by teaming up we can make it a much better experience.
Who and what can I find in it?
Currently, we have got 1500 members, but of course, not all are active. In fact, only a fraction of them are, about 10%. Slack gives us some basic analytics.
Even if this sounds like a low number, the truth is that it makes it easy to follow, as every day there are a bunch of messages. It hasn't become the community that has hundreds of messages every day, forcing you to skim through everything or mark all as read more often than not.
In this community, you will find a really nice group of fantastic individuals who are very active and always willing to help one another expecting nothing in return. It is, indeed, very well aligned with the values of Startup Grind: make friends, not connections; help first, and give before you take.
Some of the best CEOs & founders of Barcelona are here, and although they might not post very often, or at all, that's how I communicate with them.
Although there are not a lot of strict policies, we above all hate spam.
We ask everyone to identify themselves with their real name, a headshot and the name of their company/companies. We like to talk to real people, not to fake identities.
This community is pretty much self-managed. I think I've only had to ban two people in well over three years. And, moreover, most people who come to post their stuff with no intention of staying, they tend to fade away really quick.
We have seen companies being co-founded by members of this community, or freelancers and agencies getting more dealflow simply by being recognised as trusted authorities in the community.
Once, one of our most active members described this community as the place where you will get high-quality answers to any question within thirty minutes. I couldn't have come up with a better pitch myself.
The best way of getting the most of an online community like this is to play long term and to pay it forward, helping others expecting nothing in return. You will be paid ten-fold when it comes back.
Is it for you?
If you want to promote your company and mass-spam the members of this community, then no. Go do that on LinkedIn instead.
If you're looking for an online community of sophisticated founders of startups in Barcelona, instead, complemented with freelancers and people who work in tech, and want to help and be helped by them, then yes, this is for you.
Go ahead, and join us in Startup BCN.