How I Built a Paid Community to 1,000+ Members in 10 Months

Quick story first

In 2017, I quit my job as a big-data engineer to go on mini-retirement.

The next 3 years were spent doing Jiu Jitsu, reading and traveling.

By 2020, it was time to go back to work or build something.

Trends.vc came after…

  • A failed app
  • A semi-successful book
  • Two data as a service companies

These were short-term games. I quit before anything gained traction.

Play long-term games.

Pick what you can stick with.

You’ll figure it out. If you don’t quit.

Applying this led to Trends.vc.

Which has grown to 40,000+ subscribers and 1,000+ Trends Pro Members.

Here are a few lessons from the first 10 months of building the Trends Pro Community.

📈 Let’s get started…

1. Use Mindful Magnets

Communities start many ways.

Why does this matter?

Content is a magnet. Community is a moat.

Your magnet shapes your culture.

Trends.vc reports are aimed at thoughtful, bootstrapped entrepreneurs.

That’s who we attract.

Culture is a one-way door. Not a two-day door.

It’s hard to reverse.

2. Focus on Rituals

How do you deliver value and get people to show up?

Use rituals.

Trends.vc has:

  • Daily Standups for accountability
  • Weekly Trends Tribe calls to build compounding relationships
  • Weekly Masterminds to provide support and solve problems together

Rituals can be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly.

More examples:

Rituals build habits and answer the question. Why do we gather?

3. Pace Yourself

Building a community is hard.

Reports took 60+ hours per week to research and write before our community launched.

The community added 20-30 hours per week.

I did both from October 2020 to March 2021.

After near burnout, reports shifted to twice a month.

4. Make It Your Own

As an introvert, I don’t like 60-person Zoom calls.

Someone once asked for this.

You’ll get a lot of feedback from community members. Have a vision.

Without one, the group will be pulled in too many directions.

Feedback can be a gift or a curse.

With feedback, ask yourself:

Does this feedback get us closer to the goal?”

5. Use Strategic Friction

Strategic friction leads to high-quality experiences.

Low barriers attract more people…

…and lead to noisy environments.

In Trends.vc, daily standups are a forcing function.

Standup streaks lead to:

  • Trends Tribe after a 10-day streak
  • Hall of Fame after a 30-day streak
  • Masterminds after a 100-day streak

The result?

  • Members know each other before joining experiences
  • There’s a sense of shared sacrifice
  • There’s quality control

We value what we “pay” for.

Price is more than money.

6. Decentralize Leadership

You have traction. Now what?

Decentralize leadership to prevent burn out.

At Trends.vc:

Courtland Allen from Indie Hackers may be the best at decentralizing leadership.

Trends.vc would not exist without an Indie Hackers meetup led by KP from OnDeck.

Thanks to Courtland and KP.


These are notes from a talk that I gave for Orbit’s Community Camp.

Thanks to Rosie and Orbit for the opportunity to share our story. Thanks to Alex Pethick, Paul Harris Jr. and Rob Walling for feedback on this essay.

📈 Want to join us?

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