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Derek Andersen is the co-founder and CEO of Bevy, a customer to customer community tool used by Atlassian, Salesforce, Duolingo, and others to grow their event communities. Bevy has raised $6M in funding from the founders of Qualtrics, Pluralsight, and Upfront Ventures. Derek is a co-founder of Startup Grind, a 500 Chapters community in 150 countries designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. Since 2012 Startup Grind has hosted 7,000 events for more than 250,000 entrepreneurs. In 2009 Derek co-founded Commonred, a professional networking product, which was acquired by Income.com in 2012. Before that, he worked at Electronic Arts in product marketing helping launch games like The Godfather, Burnout, and Mirror’s Edge. He lives in Palo Alto with his wife and four children.

  • PC

    Pedro Clivati

    8 months ago #

    Hey, Derek - thank you for making yourself available for this.
    Startup Grind is one of my inspirations when the assumption is community building. I'm guessing it has been growing at a constant pace over its journey, however, are you able to list down some of the biggest "game changer" events that have happened along the way that really boost it off? I wonder if you guys have been testing hypothesis along the way, making small-scale tests and applying it to a broader audience once validate. (kind of GrowthHacking methodology but applied to community building).

    Thanks in advance.

    • DA

      Derek Andersen

      8 months ago #

      I have about 2-pages of things we tested that didn't work. I'll say that most of the biggest impact things have come from small experiments and most of the low impact experiments were when we tried to go big.

      Things that changed the game for us include: agreeing to let someone start a chapter that we didn't totally control, putting a form to "start a chapter" on the website, launching our global conference 7-years ago, pushing for a partnership with Google (we're 6-years in on that), never compromising on content quality for any reason (1000's of small decisions add up to something massive), some game changing hires along the way.

      4 Share
  • ET

    Eyal Torjman

    8 months ago #

    Hi Derek,

    Nice to meet you.

    My question is this:
    What do you think is the fastest growing industry today that most of the people don't even notice?

    Thanks!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    8 months ago #

    Hey Derek - so cool to finally have you on!

    1. Can you share how you manage to lead to separate entities without losing focus on growth opportunities for either?
    What processes, tools, methodologies do you use to keep yourself confident that not only are things on track but are executing on wherever the highest leverage is for each?

    2a. Its fair to say that Bevy has some competition. What's worked best for you to differentiate the offering?

    2b. What does someone who's trying out Bevy for the first time have to do (even if its multiple actions) for them to "get it" ie that Bevy is the best solution to their problems? How do you optimize for that "time to wow"?

    • DA

      Derek Andersen

      8 months ago #

      1 - I compartmentalize what I do to focus and get the important things done first and quickly. Keeping inboxes, messaging, and to do lists separated so my brain can switch when it needs to switch. The only ways it's possible is that Startup Grind and Bevy are extremely complimentary. Much of what I do overlaps and if it didn't I couldn't do it. I'm also in a stage of life where I am working a lot more than I will want to 10 years from now, so from an output perspective, there's a lot coming out right now and that helps.

      2a - with competition we just try to be authentic to who we are and what we're good at. There are lots of problems our product is not the best at solving and we don't try to overstate our ability to solve those things. We swim in our own lane and try to be the best at what we do and hopefully everything else will work out.

      2b - "time to wow" can happen on the first demo if the person seeing it has lived the problem. That's the ideal customer and wow time....15 minutes in. :)

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        8 months ago #

        Thanks, Derek.
        A couple of follow ups.

        re: we just try to be authentic to who we are and what we're good at
        What does this look like practically. For example is this reflected in the website copy or just something that comes up when people ask questions during the demo and/or something else?

        re: wow time.
        Can you talk more specifically about what exactly they are seeing/doing - in the the first 15 mins of the demo that gets people to see the light? What specific features or functions of whatever makes Bevy unique do you highlight for this to happen?

  • TS

    Tales Sampaio

    8 months ago #

    Hey Derek, thank you for doing this AMA!

    My question/curiosity is more about your career.

    After a long stay in EA, you co-founded Startup Grind and also a SAAS company.

    - What type of learnings from retail entertainment market do you apply nowadays in your two initiatives?
    - What are the main similarities and differences you see in these different markets?

    Thank you,

    • DA

      Derek Andersen

      8 months ago #

      Honestly there isn't a lot from what I learned at EA that I didn't unlearn in becoming an entrepreneur. The skillsets were so different, much of what I learned was just not applicable. That said, I was a product manager and core product manager skills are pretty useful across basically any project.
      learnings - mostly what I still use is how to work with lots of people with competing interests. Retailers, engineering team, publishers, all have separate goals. As a PM at a game company you have to unite everything together. Those skills are really applicable.
      differences - at EA we worked on games in a 2-3 year time frame. In a startup you could go out of business every 30-45 days. Long and extremely thoughtful planning cycles are just not possible when it comes to a startup.

  • MK

    Mariana Klober

    8 months ago #

    Hey Derek!

    Throughout your path at Bevy, what do you think has been the biggest milestone in the company's growth?

    Thank you.

    • DA

      Derek Andersen

      8 months ago #

      (1) When we got real customers that paid real money for the platform is the first real milestone that fundamentally changed it from a project to a company. But other milestones include:
      (2) Solving our own problem saved us tons of time and money because we knew exactly what we needed and built as efficiently as possible, (3) getting great engineering talent early, (4) getting the product in contact with users quickly, (5) convincing great people to help fund it to profitability.

      Everything else we have done since is an extension of these core things.

  • RM

    Rodrigo Matos

    8 months ago #

    Hi Derek,
    Super thanks for sharing some of your views with us today.

    How do you see the A.I. technology being used to help growing event communities?

    Thanks again!

    Rod

    • DA

      Derek Andersen

      8 months ago #

      Fascinating question. My focus is actually trying to take the AI out of human interaction as much as possible. There are pieces to automate, but how do we really maximize the experience for organizers and attendees of events?

      I love this Tim Cook quote: "For all of the beauty of technology and all the things we’ve helped facilitate over the years, nothing yet replaces human interaction… And I don’t think it will ever happen.”

      So A.I and automation is great for scaling a community, but ultimately the goal is to increase the power of the human interaction and technology should never get in the way of that regardless of the cost.

      1 Share
  • DS

    Douglas Schneider

    8 months ago #

    Hi Derek!
    Thanks for being here ;)

    Could you tell us some of your experiences on your early days that have shaped you on your journey as an entrepreneur?

    I believe that the goal of all business is to grow and expand operations. Startup Grind has 500 Chapter in 150 countries, what the importance of Market Research when expanding internationally?

    Thanks again!

    • DA

      Derek Andersen

      8 months ago #

      I really try to be learning every minute of every day. I've been an entrepreneur for 8 years. In the earliest days, the major mistakes were a weekly/monthly/daily occurrence.
      This biggest lesson I learned is that my ideas generally are not great but my customer's ideas are. I've spent so much money on my own ideas. I just don't do that anymore. :)

      1 Share
  • BI

    Benjelloun Ibrahim

    8 months ago #

    Hi Derek,
    Could you please share with us the top books that helps you during your entrepreneurial journey?
    Thanks in advance

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