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Growth Through Community for Course Creators

Danielle Maveal
May 23, 2022

Bryony spoke to us from her hometown Melbourne, Australia, where she spends half her year in a sunlit apartment with her dog Margaret, a collie-shepherd mix. The founder of Future of Sex, a media production company at the helm of the growing world of sextech, she used the pandemic slowdown to design and launch an online course for entrepreneurs hoping to break into the industry—Sextech School.

When she speaks, she uses her hands for emphasis and lights up in the eyes once she gets going on a favorite topic. Such topics include: Metcalfe’s law, the power of the internet, and what it means to build a community. Even over a video call she conveys that rare quality many leaders only ever aspire to: of letting you know you are the most important person in the room.

On Community Building

“I think people hear the word community and think it's a fuzzy soft term”

And that it should just happen organically: just kind of like falling in love or relationships don't require work, it's the same thing with communities. Actually there's a lot of scaffolding that goes into building relationships in your personal life and your professional life and it's a myth that it just happens organically. There's people that need to be the builders of that even when it's in its very nascent stages. There has to be someone that's the organizer, that's facilitating the connections between people.

I've done this exercise where I throw out balls of string into a group of people and then they'll catch up all the string and throw it somewhere else. So you'd spend five minutes and then the room would look like this tangled mess. It really brought it to life: that's what community is. It's the ties between all the different people. And if someone were to fall on this web, they'd be held up because of the strength of all the ties underneath it.

"Our community thrives on learning from one another. Everyone has something to share; they have some expertise that will inspire others.”

"If someone’s motivated to grow alongside others, let's not get in their way. We launched our Seesaw Pioneer community to meet this need. Anyone can begin their journey here and still have many opportunities to connect with others.”

On the life-cycle of communities, and digital business

"I believe that community has four typical life cycle stages. Inception, establishment, maturity, and if you’re unluck mitosis.”

That's where I think course creators sometimes get a bit stuck because they think that as a course creator we have to be the educator, the teacher, and the leader and actually when you're building a community there is a real opportunity, especially as the community reaches that maturity phase, to step back. You know your community is mature when members step up and take the lead and create their own groups off of the back of your community create their own partnerships or run their own sessions.

For me having a digital first or internet first business isn't just a nicety, it's a necessity. It allows me to move a lot faster, it's allowed me to put a hundred students through the business while testing it. It's allowed me to pivot really quickly.

On Course Creator Pitfalls

“A lot of course creators suffer from this idea that they need to have everything.”

That's where I think course creators sometimes get a bit stuck because they think that as a course creator we have to be the educator, the teacher, and the leader and actually when you're building a community there is a real opportunity, especially as the community reaches that maturity phase, to step back. You know your community is mature when members step up and take the lead and create their own groups off of the back of your community create their own partnerships or run their own sessions.

For me having a digital first or internet first business isn't just a nicety, it's a necessity. It allows me to move a lot faster, it's allowed me to put a hundred students through the business while testing it. It's allowed me to pivot really quickly.

"Burb provided an essential boost on the community and the technical side.”

In fact, I'd never do a course without them again. On the community side, on the human side, thinking through how might we strengthen the connections once members are in the course. And they also did a great job of lifting me out of that technical bloat by streamlining so many processes that either I was doing by hand or by keyboard myself or I was setting up different softwares and trying to connect them.

"Burb allowed me to serve 50 people at once instead of 12.”

I have 4X-ed my cohort size. Burb allowed the technology to be streamlined and that experience for my students much more in flow. On the community side of the house identifying small tweaks that allowed me to set accountability pods automatically, set them by region, and community processes that I'd been spending hours doing myself. Suddenly I had more time, more revenue, and more people to serve.

On Student Success

“The two main types of people to join sextech school are either people with their own business or an existing idea they want to turn into a business.”

Prior to Sextech School Alice was working on her prototype for several years but finding she wasn't getting much traction with her idea. She had a company called Touchy-Feely that produced tech kits for people to build their own vibrators while learning coding. It prompted her to join Sextech School so she could accelerate her business and be surrounded with people that had input advice. Throughout the course of the school she developed her prototype, got some solid advice around a business model, and debated whether she would take investment. She formed a really strong support network within her cohort both with her accountability buddies but also just within the larger network itself. After Sextech School she put herself forward for a grant and she won £5000! She also had her business covered as one of the top 10 brands to watch in the space for this year.

It was also a success story for Sextech Shool because Alice then returned to Sextech School as a teacher, where she ran a workshop on prototyping. She joined as an alumni supporter running Alumni Support Sessions and is still a really active mentor within the school community.

“Community is the outcome that stays.”

It remains consistent long after the teaching sessions are done. And that's one of the biggest gives. For Alice and for so many other students, what that means is confidence. Community gives them confidence in work to go out into the external world and share their ideas, raise money ask for grant money, pitch media, and sell their products. But they couldn't do that before because they didn't have the support net to really get behind them. It's like a super power.

Apply to beta test Burb, and book a call with us to talk about your own strategy and operations!

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