Forming a Minimal Viable Community as a Web3 Creator

Forming a Minimal Viable Community as a Web3 Creator

by Julian Lopez-Acosta
It used to be all about attracting prospective consumers with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP).
Startups would develop a new product with a minimal amount of features, taking it directly to the market with a mission to grab the consumer’s attention. By establishing a base product, the marketing team would be able to gauge the responses of the market and thus tailor the product according to the market’s needs. Simple, right?

In the case of web2, marketers would often implement a go-to-market (GTM) strategy, building leads and acquiring customers via the acquisition funnel.

So how did the Go-To-Market strategy work?

Customer acquisition funnel
The Customer Acquisition Funnel has been the go-to model for acquiring and retaining consumers.

The relationship between the seller and the consumer was a two-way street: The company had to pitch a product good enough for consumers (at least, in the beginning), while consumers required products that fulfilled their needs. If one of the parties didn’t do their part, the relationship would come to an end.

Now designing an MVP and selling it to consumers had three key benefits for marketers:

  1. There were enough features for consumers to purchase the product granting the firm a small portion of the market share
  2. The product integrated a feedback loop, where consumers expressed their thoughts about the product after usage
  3. The firm could offer future benefits for its early adopters

These benefits meant the world to startups, as it provided them with a launchpad to penetrate the industry. It armed them with tools to break through the noise, improve their product according to the consumer’s needs, and reward the consumers who adopted their product first.

In short—creating an MVP and ushering it into the market under the GTM approach was the status quo. It was cost-effective and adaptive to market conditions — a real no-brainer for new entrants.

What’s a Minimal Viable Community?

The advent of web3 has turned this strategy on its head: Instead of promoting a Minimal Viable Product, now it’s all about establishing a Minimal Viable Community (MVC).

Why? Well, web3 has flattened the power hierarchy and changed the dynamics of the network. Consumers aren’t just buyers in the market — they’re shareholders. They now care about the well-being of the companies they buy from, even if it’s a startup new to the scene.

The network flywheel
In web3, the Network Flywheel has replaced the Network Effect.

The buying process isn’t as simple anymore. If consumers want a product from a promising web3 initiative, they’ll need to acquire it by investing in the project.

So now, the firm isn’t at the top of the buyer-seller relationship anymore. They aren’t cutting-out consumers from development, selling them a basic product, then tinkering with the product until it reaches the customer’s standards. Rather, they’re integrating the consumer in the development process. As a result, the MVP ethos is being thrown out the window.

Enter Minimal Viable Community (MVC): A concept linked to grassroots initiatives. You could think of it as crowdsourcing. It’s all about curating community and inspiring a community-owned business model in the new and improved web3 firm.

It isn’t as easy for startups to get a slice of the market in the web3 world. They can’t just target the consumer’s needs; they need to involve the consumer, the developer, and the creator in the company’s processes and decision-making. 

Building an MVC forbids a “me” mentality; instead, we must rewire our brains to suit the “we” approach to this new and improved landscape.

Why is it important to build a Minimal Viable Community?

First things first, if a new entrant doesn’t put the community at the forefront of their project, they will fail. Like I said before, consumers aren’t stakeholders anymore… they’re investors. Investors that care about the well-being of your project just as much as you do.

Aside from picturing this approach as a suffocating lifeline to the web3 firm, try looking at the benefits of building an MVC.

The Minimal Viable Community is a body that’s constantly evolving. It reshapes itself according to the needs and values of the members that form the launchpad.

Startups don’t have to worry about being one step behind market trends. Since the consumer is a shareholder, the feedback loop has been streamlined. They’ll tell you what they want at the push of a button, instead of having to wait for a completed survey in a week’s time. 

MVCs are also a greater asset than products. You could think of the Minimal Viable Community as a brand instead of a product. A strong brand won’t fail, even if it releases new products that don’t necessarily satisfy the consumer’s needs. If the community is tight-knit, then the product isn’t what matters.

What matters is the project’s principles. If the community lives by the founders’ principles, then the bond between members is unbreakable.

BAYC’s differential advantage doesn’t stem from it’s art — it comes from the tight-knit community.

Minimal Viable Communities also offer something unique: Free marketing. But, more importantly, the marketing is through word-of-mouth. If you ask any marketing professional, they’ll tell you word-of-mouth is the strongest form of marketing. People trust the word of their friends and family over an advertiser’s message.

When the community enjoys a project as much as the founders do, they will gladly promote it to their friends, families, and interest groups.

This is what you should seek as a web3 startup.

How do you build a Minimal Viable Community?

Great! We understand why Minimal Viable Communities are crucial for the web3 startup. So, how do we build one?

Launching a token

Well, as previously discussed, you could consider MVCs as crowdsourcing. The difference is that you aren’t asking for money to develop the initial product or business. Instead, you’re asking for a stake in your project with tokens as the investment medium.

Your shareholders will now consist of hundreds, to even thousands of small-time retail supporters, referred to as “evangelists.” Evangelists will purchase your project’s token, and this is how you open the doors to funding while creating the MVC.

Ok, cool. So you launched a token affiliated with your project. Now what?

Building the right network

Now you must build the right network. If you put all your efforts into a shotgun approach, where you spend money on untargeted ads, then you will never see the MVC come to fruition.

A community shares interests. Attracting people from different walks of life with clashing interests is not the path you should take.

This is why most NFT projects fail after the minting process. People are only there for a flip, and that’s it. They don’t care about the project’s future, and they’re not willing to stick through the project’s lowest lows. They don’t believe in the project.

It would be best if you scoured the web for people plants: the early adopters who live by your project’s principles. Without a core group of individuals who are willing to build the initial community and help expand the onset of your project into sub-communities, your firm won’t take off.

Building the right network also involves becoming a role model to the first on-boarded members. If you don’t show them the behaviour you want in the future of your community, then members will do whatever they please. You must show them how to act, and they’ll reflect your behaviours.

In basic terms, this means being active in your community (chatting in Discord, for example), establishing how you want users to interact (do you want to set a positive tone? Is your project tackling a severe issue?), and being transparent from the very beginning.

Make members feel like they’re your friend. Don’t put yourself over top of them, as they’re your lifeline.

So we’ve launched a token and attracted the initial community. What’s next?

Scaling the Minimal Viable Community

Scaling your community is the next big challenge. How can you grow your initial community and expand it into a web of smaller communities?

It first starts by forming an initial group of supporters. If you begin segregating your MVC before it reaches critical mass: the point at which a network increases in size without the founder promoting the network, the foundation of your project will be disconnected. You need that tight-knit community that will stick with you through thick and thin.

Network effects in a Minimal Viable Community
Once critical mass is reached, the relationship between the number of users and the value of the network increases exponentially.

As a project owner, you don’t need to worry about when the critical mass moment is reached, as your community will signal you when the moment is near. They’ll tell you when to start divvying up your Discord into channels for your project’s respective sub-communities.

You need to set scalable systems to ease the expansion process. In web2, this meant purchasing additional servers to increase functionality as the network grows. In web3, you must establish a scalable infrastructure that aligns with your community’s needs.

Let’s say your community has an appetite for gaming. Naturally, the next step as a founder would be to build a GameFi experience exceeding your community’s expectations. Although your sub-communities may be comprised of RPG lovers, FPS fanatics, and Hack n’ Slash enthusiasts, every gamer loves refreshing gameplay with an integrated P2E mechanism.

Do you see what I mean? Scaling involves looking back at your MVC’s identity and building infrastructure that reflects these principles. Don’t ever steer away from what made you, you.

What’s next?

It’s pretty easy finding lines of code on GitHub and releasing a shitcoin to the world. It’s easy generating 10,000 NFTs with over 100 traits and mint it out within weeks.

But what’s difficult is surviving the market through its trends, and more importantly, retaining your MVC. As a founder, your community depends on you every single day. Once you begin building, there’s no going back. You are at the mercy of your community.

And although we may have made it sound like you’re selling your soul, trust us, you’re not. If you’re passionate about a project, and you know others will feel the same way, then developing a relationship with your MVC will be one of the most fulfilling experiences in your lifetime.