About Me ■ Graduated from
Yale, moved to NYC ■ Previous startup failed, never had real “job” ■ 2009: Founded General Assembly Now: $50MM in funding, 500+ employees, campuses in 14 cities globally ■ 2013: Founded Daybreaker Now: 8 cities globally and counting, tens of thousands of participants @brimer
New York — 2009 ■
Recession hit NYC, tech was transforming every industry ■ The New York tech scene was burgeoning but disjointed and ad hoc ■ People were seeking new career paths, new skills, new inspiration @brimer
The Answer? General Assembly @brimer
Let’s create a community nucleus for the startup ecosystem in NYC — housed in a real, physical place! A place of social interaction, professional collaboration, and shared learning.
New York — 2013 ■
Always loved music and live entertainment, but frustrated with nightlife in New York ■ Dance culture and ‘going out’ were inevitably linked with drugs, alcohol, exclusiveness, escapism, etc. ■ Mornings as a space & time were boring! @brimer
5 Learnings on How a
Strong Brand Supports a Strong Community 1. Activate the core 2. Give karma, get karma 3. Establish clear brand values 4. Create meaningful offline experiences 5. Balance curation with openness @brimer
Activate the core @brimer ■
Focus your early efforts on building a powerful core of true believers ■ Examples: ○ 1:1 coffees ○ Group dinners ○ Space tours ○ Manually building email list ■ Early adopters you cultivate become evangelists
Give karma, get karma Give!
Be as useful as possible. Connect, inspire, support. @brimer ■ Well-placed intros add value to the ecosystem — everyone benefits ■ The karma you send out inevitably comes back to you ■ Try to make 2-3 intros per day as a habit ■ Focus on increasing network density around you
Establish clear brand values Codify
the founding principles of the brand early to shape the community ethos (and ultimately the business) @brimer ■ GA: culture of reciprocity through a “I’m offering / I need” bulletin board ■ Daybreaker: culture of positivity and warmth in our music, check-in process, and closing remarks at each event
Establish clear norms and values
@brimer 1. People before the machine 2. Learning by doing 3. Journey over destination General Assembly Daybreaker 1. Camaraderie 2. Wellness 3. Self-Expression 4. Mindfulness 5. Mischief
Create meaningful offline experiences @brimer
■ Think offline UX design! Create experiences that are magical and memorable. Engage people IRL. ■ Examples: ○ Take people to the edge of their comfort zone (7 am sober dance party, what?!) ○ Surprise and delight! Unexpected performances, spoken word, new locations ○ Intimate fireside chats with amazing people at General Assembly ■ People connect far more deeply offline than online ■ NPS (Net Promoter Score) as your north star
Balance curation with openness @brimer
■ A tightly-curated membership yields quality, yet can be unwelcoming / too “clubby” to the outside ■ Examples: ○ GA: Workshops/events open to public, but membership/courses were selective ○ Daybreaker: Invite-only, password-protected events, avoided all PR… until we felt the community was strong enough, then opened it up more publicly
The Future of GA &
Daybreaker @brimer ■ General Assembly & Daybreaker are both about creating community at their core — and are doing so by focusing on building strong brands ■ Both organizations are empowering people transform their lives for the better, connect with like-minded peers, and pursue their inner calling ■ Without a strong brand, the communities wouldn’t be as loyal. Without a strong community, the brand wouldn’t be as valuable.
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