Merging our Future of Manufacturing Community with IIoT Use Case

Today, we’re merging our Future of Manufacturing Community with the team behind IIot Use Case. In this post, I wanted to share some thoughts on the community itself, its development and why we took that decision.

Around one year ago, I sent out Issue #27 of my Future of Manufacturing Newsletter and announced that I’m building a community for people who are interested in the future of manufacturing. It was an idea I had for a long time. My Future of Manufacturing Newsletter has enabled me to meet lots of interesting people throughout the years and I always thought there should be a way to facilitate n:n connections in this field.

Our first landing page in February 2021

To start with, I created a simple landing page using Webflow and a short Typeform that served as a waitlist. Using a waiting list was crucial for me since I wanted to focus on quality rather than quantity. My strategy was to build a solid foundation first before scaling the community. I decided to use Discord because it’s simple, easy-to-use, and cheap.

After the first people signed up, I invited them in batches, focusing on diversity (roles, companies, countries, gender,…). I pre-defined a few channels where the #introduce-yourself channel was the most important one to get things going. Everybody who entered the community wrote a short personal intro (see below) which we added automatically (using Zapier) to our community directory (Airtable).

That’s the template everybody used to introduce themselves

To facilitate more engagement, I started doing virtual events regularly. Over the next few months, I invited more people, did many more events, added new channels, a community directory, and a content library to store the community content.

Then in summer last year, I started Aveo together with Marco. For our manufacturing-related courses, the community was the perfect addition. Then in autumn, we hired Maria to take over the community work so I could dedicate all my time on building Aveo. Maria did a fantastic job at shaping the community and increasing the engagement.

I can proudly share that today, we have more than 200 people in our community and the waitlist has reached nearly 600 people completely organically. Our members come from more than 20 different countries and work in many different companies of all sizes. While the roles of our members might have different titles, they have one thing in common: they’re all working on the future of manufacturing.

We’ve organized more than 25 virtual events and lots of internal learn & inspire sessions. We’ve written more than 50 summaries of the week. We’ve created a community directory. We’ve introduced virtual coffees to facilitate peer-to-peer connections for our members. We’ve started a LinkedIn channel to share more of our community work and to give our members a voice (eg. sharing events, member of the month). And we’ve had countless discussions in our Discord channel.

Some statistics we shared in December 2021 on Social Media

While all of the community work was going really well, other things changed over time. In mid-February, our community manager Maria went into maternity leave. At the same time, we shifted our focus at Aveo more on building our software product. And for now, we’re also moving away from manufacturing with Aveo (I cannot wait to tell you more about that soon).

What did not change is that I love building communities and connecting people. It’s a skill I got really good at and we’re using all of these insights now for building our product. But I also know that building communities needs time. I put a lot of heart and time into building this community, especially before Aveo. I even got goosebumps when two members who haven’t met each other before shared a picture that they met for beers in person:

Philipp and Kartik meeting for beers somewhere in a small German industrial town

Today, I’m convinced more than ever that such a community needs to exist. It’s obvious for me. The feedback from our members underlines that. Unfortunately, I cannot make the time which the community deserves. Building Aveo requires 100% of my time and focus. So from today on, it’s just not me building it anymore but we have found the ideal partner with IIot Use Case to take over. I’m very excited that our community gets the dedication again that it deserves.

I wanted to take the last part of this post to thank every community member who helped (me) us to build, shape, and grow this community. This community would not be what it is without you. I know that the future of manufacturing is bright — especially because of all of you who are working on it.

Also, I’m sorry for everybody who signed-up for the waitlist but has not been able to join the community yet. I always wanted to focus on engagement and not scaling the community just for the sake of it. I’m much more happy to have started a community with 200+ people who know each other and are engaged rather than a dead and anonymous community with 2000+ people. Quality trumps quantity for communities.

For the future, I will stay as an active member in the community but not as an active creator. And now, let’s get back to building 🚀

PS: If you want to work with us at Aveo, we’ll be hiring soon in engineering, design and marketing — reach out.

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Robin Dechant

Co-Founder @Kwest. Previously invested in SaaS & Marketplaces @PointNineCap, now by myself. Running and living in Berlin.