A new startup aims to help companies build and leverage communities around their products so they can bypass multiple disparate tools and manage everything on one platform.
Founded in the Czech Republic in 2021, talkbase launched from stealth just a few weeks ago, backed by $2 million in pre-seed funding from a mix of Czech and US funds, including J&T Ventures, Credo Ventures, Mxv Capital and Plug & Play Tech Center. The Prague-based company is representing one of the Battlefield 200 startup exhibitors at TC Disrupt this week, and australiabusinessblog.com spoke with the co-founders to get an idea of what Talkbase is all about and the problem it aims to solve.
Community meets product
Much has been written about the different strategies companies pursue for growth, from traditional approaches such as marketing-driven and sales-driven, to what is arguably one of the biggest buzzwords of today: product-driven growth (PLG), where the product itself does the sales and onboarding. .
However, community-led growth is also an increasingly popular approach to drive organic new and repeat customers – this is where a product’s users serve as advocates and a support network for other potential customers. Community-led growth is actually closely related to product-led growth, in that a user must first know that a product exists, then be convinced that it is worth watching and remain an active user. The “community” performing this task could be anything from social media influencers and review sites to dedicated forums like Stack Overflow, Reddit, Slack, or Facebook Groups.
If companies can leverage these types of channels through active engagement, and get millions of people on the drum about their product, they can sit back (more or less) and focus on building rather than selling. As australiabusinessblog.com wrote last year, in many ways the chief community officer is the new chief marketing officer.
“I think in some ways they… [community-led growth and product-led growth] go hand in hand, because to be product focused and build a great product, you have to really work closely with your users,” co-founder and CEO Klara Losert said. “And if you want to work well with them, you build a community around your product.”
There are many examples of startups that have risen to billions of dollars thanks to community-led growth, from commercial open source companies like MongoDB (which is basically no longer open source) to popular creator-focused companies like figma (currently in the process of being acquired by Adobe for a cool $20 billion) and $40 billion unicorn Canvaswhich happens to be one of Talkbase’s first customers.
“Community-led growth is one of the most popular growth channels in technology, but there is no platform to support it,” Losert said. “Community managers are responsible for growth, hiring or retention programs, but they spend most of their time in Google Sheets, Airtable, forms and other platforms launching a single program.”
A ‘program’ can be a one-off event, a series of content (eg video demos) or an ambassador program that coaches brand advocates on how best to spread the word. Community managers can use any number of platforms to manage their community, such as Slack, Discord, or Hubspot, and this is essentially where Talkbase competes – it bridges several community management tools and brings everything under one roof.
For example, Talkbase offers task management and collaboration tools similar to Trello or Asana, allowing managers to assign tasks and teams to collaborate on programs to meet deadlines.
Elsewhere, Talkbase includes features for creating, managing, and scheduling events, such as supporting attendee registrations and managing moderators or speakers.
Additionally, Talkbase has purpose-built advocacy tools for customizing and tracking their goals, as well as gathering feedback for potential new projects. This can also be used to identify existing community members (e.g. on Twitter or LinkedIn) who are already vocal supporters of a particular product, making it easier for companies to reach out and engage with them directly.
It’s worth noting that there are a number of other platforms that have raised significant VC money to enable community-led growth in businesses of all sizes. Commsor recently launched a $50 Million Series Bwhile Common Room insured of $52 million. threadomeanwhile, raised a little more modest Seed round of $3.1 million.
It’s hard to ignore the parallels between Talkbase and these other companies, in terms of how they bring together the different parts that make up a “community.” But Talkbase says it goes beyond the incumbents by bringing together all the different elements that make up a community manager’s toolset. While it’s mostly focused on managing events and corporate ambassadors for now, it’s adding more features to the mix, made possible in part by the recent seed funding round.
Talkbase is working to replace survey tools like Typeform; CRMs or spreadsheet tools such as Google Sheets or Airtable; event publishing tools such as Eventbrite; and even outbound communication tools like Mailchimp – Losert said they are currently developing their own newsletter tool.
In terms of pricing, the company has officially different plans this weekstarting with “free” for a basic tier with limitations, going through $68 per month for the basic plan, and a soon-to-be-launched Pro plan that opens everything up to $680 per month.