Community Name: The Product Folks
Community Leader: Suhas Motwani
What is The Product Folks? A community for current and aspiring Product professionals in India.
On the first days of the community
Before the pandemic hit, The Product Folks was an offline-only community. We started super small, with one event in Bangalore when I had transitioned into a product role. I tweeted something about wanting to meet up with other folks in the product space and got a couple of good responses. So, I decided to host a small event in a WeWork. I was expecting a handful of people and 60 turned up!
The community today is mostly around folks already in the space and those who want to transition to product. Members are finding mentors, making friends, and learning (much more cheaply than getting an MBA) and we're hoping '21 gets even better!
Expanding community offline...then online
We slowly started expanding to different cities. Pre-pandemic, we were holding monthly events across 9 cities, including 7 in India. We used to create Whatsapp groups for each city - each of them would have 200+ members.
When the pandemic hit, we obviously weren't able to hold our offline events. Luckily, we had been able to build an audience of 25,000+ people on our online newsletter. We started holding online events, including many product leaders and founders from the U.S., build resources to help the community, and we started a Slack channel for everyone to interact about 3-4 months ago.
One thing I might have done different: In retrospect, we should've brought in a significant online component from day one.
On keeping it free for members
We have a small application form, but have kept the community completely free. Right now, we have 1,800+ people in the Slack channel and about 1,500+ on the Linkedin group and about 30+ Whatsapp groups.
We'd like to experiment with a membership option this year. We've had lots of conversations with members to understand the value they're getting out of the community and will be focusing more on outcomes this year. We'd love to help members find great jobs in product.
On sustaining the community
All 130+ events that we've held so far have been completely free. We've had some companies pay for food to help defray the costs of these events while doing it offline. We're hoping to work with a couple of companies as sponsors in 2021 (do reach out in case this is something that you might be interested in :))
We did host a conference in October and December this year that generated some revenue. We had two passes: a knowledge pass that was free and an experience pass that was 499-999 INR. We got about 5,500+ registration in the first one (annual product conference) and 1,100+ in the second (niche in the D2C products space) - thrilled with the journey and support we've gotten so far
The team behind the community
We're all volunteers. All revenue that we generate goes right back to the community and we've done a bunch of fundraisers for various causes. We definitely need to build some more structure into it and we're always adding in more volunteers, so if you're interested to contribute to India's largest Product Community - do DM us - @TheProductFolks on Twitter :)