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Building & Supporting Micro-communities

Natasha Lytton from Seedcamp at the Community Leadership Summit #2

Natasha Lytton is Seedcamp’s head of brand where she supports the next generation of startups building the brands of the future.

In this talk at the Community Leadership Summit #2, Natasha shares her learnings of nurturing the Seedcamp nation by focusing on micro-communities within their network.


I run all things brand, marketing and network at Seedcamp. Seedcamp is an early stage investor in technology companies and we believe that European entrepreneurs have the power to compete on a global scale, which is why we started the business 12 years ago to empower and support awesome entrepreneurs around the world and specifically in Europe.

Today I want to talk about how you build and support micro communities in the same way we see the growth of micro influencers now. I think we're also seeing a major growth of micro communities. The reason for that is because people want to feel a part of something, but not something that's too big.

A lot of communities feel inauthentic

We've talked about purpose and what I did here was to tell you about the purpose of Seedcamp. I would argue that our purpose is authentic and real and it's kind of what enabled us to get to the point we're at today. And if I were to mention Seedcamp to someone and I would tell this purpose, they'd be like, “yeah, that makes sense, I totally see that”.

I think part of the issue we've got with a lot of the brands and communities that are evolving today, is that they feel inauthentic. Purpose is this new thing that every brand and its dog wants to attach onto their business as a profit driving mechanism as opposed to actually something they inherently believe in, something that is shaped in their core.

Therefore one of the core things I do with our startups that we invest in is educate them and try to challenge their perception around purpose and actually be thinking about their brand from the very, very beginning.

It is never just one community

That's a little bit of background. Now I want to talk to you about how we've started to shape and support some of the micro communities we have within Seedcamp.

We talk about Seedcamp and everybody that's a part of it now as a Seedcamp nation, because we really see it as such. We've been going for 12 years. We've invested in 300 companies from all over the world. We have people who have been mentors, experts in residents, they've been marketers in one of the companies, they've come and offer their support as part of it and we want every single one of those people to feel like they are part of something. Even just that language and that positioning around nation has really helped.

Within Seedcamp we don't just have prospective founders who we want to support and who we will invest in. We also have our own investors and people that give us money. We have mentors, people who dedicate and give their time for free. We have angels. We have obviously our founder community and all the people helping them support and build their business.

What we've tried to look at is what are some of those micro communities within these stakeholder groups. One of those being who were the operational people that are actually helping the founder to build the business, because it is never just one person when you're talking about how you build out a business. So what we've started to do is put on summits around the vertical and operational expertise that is integral to building a startup and a lot of the time when you're building a startup, it's not something you've done before.

Where are the communities for those people? Not just the founder, but the tech person, the product person, the marketing person within the company to speak to other like minded folks who might be going through the same thing.

We've started to put on summits, around marketing, sales, product, etc. as a way to serve and build that micro community within the founders and the portfolios of companies that we're investing in. And I just wanted to talk briefly about sort of learning from year one of doing the marketing summit last year to how I'm going to sort of adapt that to year two.

For year one we had a full day where we invited the brand and marketing leads from across our portfolio company. We also opened it up to other seed investors to invite their marketers, because it's really important that it's not just about our portfolio. It's about creating a network of people and thinking beyond just ourselves so these people can really support one another.  We had a day of inspiration and peer to peer learning workshops. People could learn from one another and you could hear from the CMOs of Purplebricks, Pipedrive and GoDaddy, people who really are top of their game.

It's on me to show vulnerability

The summit was great, but it wasn't necessarily solving the problem. We created an offline community for these people to meet one another, but the gathering wasn't going to go deep on the tangible things that they needed to learn to be able to better market or support their startups. Therefore we’ve tried to take that offline community online, by creating a Telegram group and an informal structure for people to communicate with one another, whether that's sharing information or asking for help.

We've definitely not cracked it. I often feel like I’m throwing things against the wall and not getting anything back. I think that's partly competing for people's time. Partly people are often quite scared to put themselves forward and admit and show vulnerability. So that's on me as well to show vulnerability. I'm perhaps there as the expert, but I'm not the expert. There's so much shit that I don't know and I have to expose that and be vulnerable about that for people to buy into me and also to open up to me.

That's been how we've tried to take it, as well as offering and really listening and responding. I asked people within that marketing group, what do you want to know? What is the biggest problem you are having at the moment? And then making sure we're matching that with real solutions, whether it's workshops and experience. And for year two what we're going to do, is actually to open it up so that we have operators and experts across the marketing and brand function. Hereby widening that community back out to ensure that we're doing our absolute best to support those micro communities within the Seedcamp nation.

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