Circle, a community platform created by Rudy, Sid, and Andrew, aims to help creators build communities around their audiences. The platform, which was developed in a month and has since raised $5,500,000, has gained hundreds of new clients. Circle allows creators to create exclusive online communities, which can be integrated into their websites under a white label. The platform provides content, tools, and live video events, allowing members to communicate and engage in conversations. The founders, Sid and Rudy, started Circle as a side venture, and over the next two months, they added more features and eventually gained a few customers.
Rudy, Sid, and Andrew worked for Teachable. They came across many creators there who wanted to build communities around their audiences but lacked the resources to do it. Circle wanted to deal with this. They developed the initial version of the product in a month and started getting early customers. Since then, they have raised $5,500,000 and gained hundreds of new clients.
Welcome Andrew in our interview! What are you currently working on and who are you?
Hi Mycreative Fansite! I’m Andy, 32 years old, residing in New York. I am one of the creators of the cutting-edge community platform Circle, where I am in charge of marketing and growth.
Circle makes it easy to start your own exclusive online community. The community may be simply included into your website under a white label.
You may provide your Circle community with content, tools, and live video events. Members are able to communicate with one another while also having conversations.
What is your background, and how did you come up with this idea?
I worked at Teachable for four or five years with my co-founders. We saw an unusual change in the creative market when we were there.
Creators are those who make money from their passion by growing an audience, fostering connections, and imparting knowledge online. Many of these people produce material, and when we started Circle, there were already a ton of tools available to host it.
However, there weren’t many tools available to serve the audiences of the artist. We made the decision to create a solution that would make it simple for these developers to build a community and include it into their tech stacks and websites.
How did you turn a concept into a finished product?
My co-founders and I frequently discussed future projects and undertakings while working at Teachable.
At that time, my co-founders Sid and Rudy started Circle as a side venture. It took them a month to initially make a tiny version of the product. Over the following two months, they kept adding more features, and ultimately a few people agreed to try it out.
Back then, it was a confidential version. We limited our invitations to creators we already knew, particularly from our time at Teachable. Through his web development and design business, Rudy also had a lot of contacts with course creators, so he encouraged them to test the tool.
Sid and Rudy then started iterating quickly using the feedback from the first customers. Every few weeks for several months, they added one or two new customers.
This went on until we proclaimed in January 2020, “This is a product that people can actually profit from. What if we really take this and turn it into a business? At this point, Circle was established.
What marketing techniques did you use to grow your company?
Circle debuted in August of that year. All of our marketing efforts from January to August were focused on developing a landing page with an email waiting list. On this list, we were able to expand the quantity of interested parties to thousands.
Users who wanted to be included to the waiting list had to complete a survey with information about themselves, how they planned to use Circle, what they hoped to accomplish, their use case, and how much they were willing to pay for it. We decided whether or not it was a good fit based on their answers. If yes, we offered the consumer a complimentary trial of the beta version. We advised the user about Circle’s monthly fee following the trial period, anticipating that they would make a payment.
To better onboard consumers and get their input, we performed innumerable one-on-one demonstrations. It was a labor-intensive procedure, requiring me to hold seven to ten 30- to 40-minute orientation discussions each day. But it was a great way to boost our sales and customer loyalty.
We worked extensively with customers to improve the product throughout the six months before the launch. Customers could discuss how they were using Circle or what the platform lacked in our very own Circle community. Customers had a deep emotional connection to us and the company, which aided in word-of-mouth advertising. I highly advise creating a community for your customers.
In the end, we chose to do a public launch (you can read more about it in this Medium article). To do this, we developed a site that was more marketing-focused and included the experiences and recommendations of some of our clients.
We debuted on Product Hunt and quickly rose to the top product of the day. By informing our client list that we were being featured on PH that day, we were able to reach this position.
Press coverage of our launch was also obtained. As an illustration, TechCrunch profiled us.
What are you doing right now? What are your long-term goals?
Right now, our growth is happening quite quickly. We welcome hundreds of new customers each month. Being a company with venture capital backing, our ambition for Circle is very ambitious.
We made the same amount of money in that one month as we had in the six months before the debut.
The team will have 12 members by the end of 2020, including the three co-founders, engineers, and customer service representatives. Everyone fits under the Product or Engineering categories, with the exception of myself and our Customer Support Manager. Product engineering and customer success are our top goals.
What lessons have you learned the most while joining Circle?
I’ve always been impressed by how patient our early customers were. Many of them joined Circle at a time when it lacked a lot of “table stakes” capabilities and necessary community tool components. Despite this, our clients provided outstanding assistance. Circle wouldn’t exist without the backing of the initial 10 to 20 consumers who took a chance on us.
We’ve found that if you’re honest with people, they’re quite patient and responsive. One of the most crucial lessons I’ve picked up is to not wait until everything is perfect before sharing it with the public.
What were the toughest obstacles you overcame? What were your biggest mistakes?
Our industry is one with intense competition. As a result, one of the challenges we have is expressing our value offer and setting ourselves apart from other well-known technologies, including Slack communities and Facebook groups.
Helping our creators create vibrant communities with interdependent members is another challenge. Online communities may frequently turn into abandoned towns. As a result, we help our artists build engaging communities that benefit their users.
What actions would you do differently if you had the chance?
Conducting one-on-one demos and presenting a very early product were two of my most early worries.
Creators showcase Circle to the whole Circle community when they use our platform. Their ability to survive depends on it. We frequently sense the weight of this immense obligation.
I constantly talk about Circle and position it in the market as I’m in charge of marketing and expansion. And I genuinely want to make sure that only the appropriate people use Circle and that we exclude anyone who doesn’t meet the requirements.
I wish I would have known early on to identify our top clients and be absolutely open about whether Circle was appropriate for their specific use case.
What equipment and sources would you recommend?
Simply said, we adore Loom. We use it for everything throughout the day, every day.
I mostly browse Twitter and email newsletters as far as websites I frequent. Additionally, I belong to Circle communities.
In terms of novels, I particularly like Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog.
We gather unique stories where people could build a community or something amazing from their passion. We collect stories from all over the internet, to awake your muse and use your creative power. This case study was supervised by our team and it definitely caught our interest. You can find other creative stories here.