The founding insight of Founders Network was that strong social groups have driven the major technology adoption curves of our industry (tweet). From The Traitorous 8 of the Semiconductor Era to the HomeBrew Computer Club of the PC Era and the PayPal Mafia of the present Web 2.0 era through today, strong social networks have proven a key determinant of startup success.
In 2014, we made great strides towards realizing our vision of building a tight-knit, highly engaged community of tech founders who support one another’s work and one day might be counted among the groups listed above (see infographic). We plowed back membership dues, driving expenses up 73% YOY in order to staff up and launch a completely redesigned Online Mentorship Platform and several new programs.
Our goal with the redesign was to move engagement from primarily email driven experience to the web, and particularly mobile. In addition to responsive design, we included a ton of new features like an interactive home feed, notification and message center, forum @mentions, anonymous posting, html emails, as well as more mundane account management features.
As a result, here’s what logins look like after our Q3 launch:
Logins lead all other interactions. In 2014, Forum activity increased 26% YOY, Function RSVP’s increased 75% YOY, deal redemptions increased 123% YOY. Mobile usage was up over 200% YOY. Our web team did a superb job this year of increasing overall utility of the network and has even more exciting updates coming for 2015. We’re also staffing up so if you’re a Full Stack Developer (Python Django) or Front End developer, please email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Impact of our Peer Advisory Board Programs. Credit: Angela Chou, Utterly
We also launched 3 new programs in 2014, highlighted by our Peer Advisory Board program (See video above). Peer Advisory Boards offer an in-person confidential advisory board for discussion and support from a small curated group of fellow members. Members gain insights, vital connections, added accountability and consistent encouragement. In addition, we launched Sector Groups and Regional Groups headed by 53 Chairs who help facilitate deeper, more relevant conversations around our sector or region.
In summary, 2014 was a big year for us and the theme was engagement. We’re excited for what 2015 will bring and are grateful for the trust, support and encouragement from all of our founders, partners and investor friends. Thank you one and all and see you in 2015!
Founder & CEO