Mac Reddin runs a company called Commsor, which builds software for community teams, and runs a community for community builders called the Community Club.
They're doing really cool things to help business community leaders create stronger communities.
Part of that is showing community leaders how to “flip the script,” to build communities at the core of the business rather than in service of the business or the product.
And the software they make? It's a nifty, powerful tool for communities that are scaling and outgrowing their Google Sheets and Airtable trackers, so they can get their data in one place where it's wrangle-able, understandable, and actionable.
They're even using NFTs in ways that help people feel like more valued members of the community—not just as tokens to sell for more money to someone else.
It's great stuff, and it's all up today on The Community Experience.
Mac Reddin is the founder and CEO of Commsor—the full-stack community company building the software, education, and resources for a community-led future. Prior to starting Commsor, Mac was a serial community builder, building communities across the gaming, ed-tech, and fashion industries.
In This Episode
- Becoming a “full-stack” community company — the origins of Commsor and The Community Club
- Making community central vs just “doing” community (with an example from Tesla)
- The shift from communities of product to communities of interest
- Creating onramps to a community
- Using context to give community data more meaning
- Knowing when to move to a more robust community-management platform (like Commsor)
- Why Mac says “community manager” is a terrible title for the job it usually describes
- How an inside joke turned into “Commsaurs” and an NFT project
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card [Amazon affiliate link]
- Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card [Amazon affiliate link]
The CX 033: When Free Community Is Good Business with Mac Reddin of Commsor
Mac Reddin: Instead of just being like, "Hey, here's a product feature." It's like, "Hey, here's a product feature that we built for ourselves and here's the proof that it works and here's how you can adopt it yourself."
We're really tying that community as a thread through the entire business like I mentioned before versus like, "Yeah, we got a Slack group we can hang out, have fun," which is I think how a lot of community initiatives really are when you boil them down right now.
Jillian Benbow: Hey, and welcome to another episode of The Community Experience podcast. I am Jillian Benbow along with my co-host...
Tony Bacigalupo: Tony Bacigalupo. Hey, what's up, everybody?
Jillian: Hello, hello.
Tony, we have such amazing guest today, Mac Reddin, the founder of Commsor and the Community Club.
And yes, I'm just I'm so jazzed. He's such a delight. He runs a platform, he runs Commsor which they do several things but community-based platforms that you can purchase. But then they also run the Community Club and that is a community for community builders. And by the way, it's amazing if you're interested.
But the interesting thing about it, I think, and what makes it so unique is the Community Club is not about Commsor. They're not necessarily directly related. There's a lot of overlap. But the goal isn't to acquire customers. The goal is to support community builders in all stages and treated as like a true—just this is a community about community.
Tony: I feel like it's a great example of service first being so valuable as a business approach that Community Club is rooted in generosity even if it serves ultimately as a marketing vehicle for him and for his businesses. It doesn't show. You could be a part of Community Club and it doesn't feel like it's just one giant billboard for the other stuff. It's a way of building value, building trust. And then now I've got a good relationship with the folks who are here and when I'm ready, I'm going to be aware of this cool company that they run that I can be a customer of. And so it's a really, really valuable relationship between the two.
And he's exemplifying that with that particular example. He's rebuilding that with his new NFT project which we're going to get into. So really refining this approach.
We have a lot to learn from him.
Jillian: It's great. Yeah, so stay tuned. We're talking to Mac Reddin and see how many dinosaurs you can spot in the episode. It'll make sense soon, I promise.
Tony: Okay, Mac Reddin, Commsor. So great to have you along. We have so much to talk about today. Welcome.
Mac: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Jillian: Yeah. Welcome to the show. I can't imagine anybody listening because we're all a pretty tight community podcast doesn't know who you are but just in case, tell us what is Commsor and maybe a little bit of the Community Club just for flourish.
Mac: Yeah. I guess for a lot of things in some ways. We've been using the line that we're a full stack community company. We're not just a software company. We are building software for community teams, the Community OS, Meetsy, and things like that. But we're also building the Community Club which is a community for community builders and part of that we have an education arm, C school, so we're ... That's the short answer but there's a lot of threads you can pull on when you ask what is Commsor.
Jillian: Yeah, no joke. And like you do a ton. I was creeping on your LinkedIn before the interview just to make sure I had it all straight and it very much seems like, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you come from the product world and that side of community and it makes sense like your origin story is mapped out on your LinkedIn bio, the jobs you've had. You've been in both community and product. And so then lo and behold, Commsor comes along. It's like you married the two into something like really legit and very community focused which is very cool.
Mac: Yeah. I think my background as a bootstrapper so I like to say if somebody say like the sales founder versus the technical founder and I like to say that I'm more of a maker founder. I like making things. And this time around, I made a thing that happened to get a lot bigger. The other thing I made in the past is, honestly, the truth of how Commsor came to be.
Jillian: But that's how it is, right? No one ever talks about that. You get that one idea that takes off and everyone's like, "Wow," and compares themselves to you at that point or vice versa. We compare ourselves to that person who's at that point. But the reality is, there's a lot of things that were tried along the way that maybe you didn't quite fit but that's how you figure it out.
Mac: Oh, yeah. You don't see the strewn list of failed ideas that existed over the past 10 years to get to this point. It's-
Jillian: Unless you put them on LinkedIn.
Mac: Well, yeah. Usually folks, a lot of them are not on LinkedIn, right?
Jillian: Yeah, [crosstalk].
Mac: Transparently, it's... But yeah, it's actually wild how often you're working on a thing like oh, actually, because this thing five years ago which was a total failure, but I actually have a piece that can get pulled out of that that's relevant here. It all ties together in one way or another at some point.
Jillian: Oh, for sure. For sure. And I think something to note I just love that you do have it all because the Community Club and then the education arm, all of that, like you said, the C School, which I love that name and I know Noel is on your team now and helping lead the way of that, which is awesome.
But you have this amazing resource and also just the tools and resources page I was playing with earlier. And for anybody working in community, there's just assets. There's so many great things. And obviously the Community Club, which is on Slack to talk to other people in community which sometimes especially if you're a solo CM for a company that isn't community first focused, it can be very lonely.
So if anybody listening is in that place and you're not in the Community Club-
Jillian: Yeah, right? It's definitely a place to find camaraderie and sounding board and just not feel alone.
But then the Commsor side, so it's more... Like you said, it's a platform, it's software. Tell us more about what you do.
Mac: Yes. We have two kind of products, if you will, in our product suite. I don't know if it's called a suite until there's more than maybe three, but we'll call it that.
The core of it is what we call the Community OS, the Commsor OS, the name gets interchanged depending on the time of day you ask. And essentially, the short version is like what HubSpot is to a marketing team or Salesforce is to a sales team.
It actually started I guess about two and a half years ago as a community CRM and it actually started as a hackathon entry for a product hunt, no code hackathon. So no intention of being a product, let alone the company, let alone what it's become today.
It was really just trying to solve that problem that community exists in a lot of different places from a company's perspective, they have their Slack and their forums and their ambassador program and their social media and their events and their newsletter and their podcast, all these different places where community engagement happens and very often, if you ask a community manager a simple question, "How many members are in your community?" It's like, "Well, I don't know. We got 10,000 here and 5000 here and 30,000 here and we don't know who's active. We don't know what the overlap is."
So that was the initial problem we set out to solve. And it's evolved into a lot more. But that's the core product we have essentially is the data back end for community teams.
Jillian: Which is so valuable. There's so many insights available in the metrics and looking at trends and whatnot to have the deepest access possible obviously is just great. Or to have something that will talk to the other platforms you use and make it all make sense.
Something I was reading about, your mission. Commsor seems to be very focused on helping businesses be community first and to see the value of investing in and continuing to support the community piece. Is that from your own journey as a community manager? What got you focused on that as a company?
Mac: We've been maybe less obviously focus but have been focused on that since day one. So I would say that I've been a community manager or community builder depending which one you want to use for 10 years, unintentionally for five years and intentionally for five years.
So my first business actually was built in the gaming space. Was a huge community component to it. I didn't really realize it at the time. I got lucky enough to actually sell that business after about four and a half years by bootstrapper standards was a great success, by VC back standards, it was a non-event, right?
Jillian: Those are two [crosstalk]-
Mac: Completely different planets, right?
Mac: I was 23 and sold a company. What more can you ask for at that age?
Jillian: Just a success. Straight up success. That's awesome.
Mac: Doesn't even move the needle for a VC to even get out of bed. That's a whole separate rabbit holes, the difference between running a VC backed company but...
And it was when I stepped away from that business that I realized that, one, the community building aspect of it had been the hat I enjoyed most of all the 6000 hats I wore and the community we built actually been what enabled it to be a successful business. So that was what got me thinking about community intentionally and long story short, got Commsor to where it is today in some form or another.
But I think it was really like two and a half years ago, knew I want to do something in the community space, started digging into it, built the Community Club, built the newsletter. It's called Community Chat back then actually. It wasn't called Community Club yet. It was a simple Substack newsletter that was just like, "Here are the cool tweets from community this week." [inaudible] more to it.
But it's really part of just putting a broader mission on how we're doing versus like, "Yeah, here's some software. Great. Buy it." You get some numbers. Some people are happy, some people are not. I think there's something bigger around enabling companies to adopt community at the core of what they do versus just do community. I think right now, there's a lot of companies you can look at where they have a community but if you peel back a layer or two, they're not community led. They're not being intentional about community. That's what I think we're trying to push companies to do.
I like to use Tesla as an example. Everyone knows that Tesla has a thriving community. There's millions of people that will talk about Tesla, go to Tesla meetups, join their subreddit, but Tesla themselves don't really do a whole lot. They're not really intentional how they build that community, how they engage with it. The community exists but not because Tesla necessarily wanted it to or did anything with it. Simple thing.
They did a software update a few weeks ago, it's awful. If you drive a Tesla is awful, if they just asked a hundred community members like, "Hey, do you think this is a good idea or not?" They probably wouldn't have shipped it.
It's little things like that where companies are not being intentional and leveraging community for the value it can drive for the business, that's the real difference, because companies have had communities in some form or another for years. But this intentional part is what's new or what feels newish, at least.
Tony: We use the distinction between an audience and a community defining the audience as the passive consumers of the stuff that the company is giving. Maybe there's some participation, but largely, there's a very hierarchical structure between the two and it's very clear where people's roles are at. And I think we have a lot of conflation between the two now.
Mac: Right. People who are calling something a community when it's really [crosstalk] join our community, but it's a newsletter subscription form and you're like, "Er, okay."
Tony: How do you articulate or how do you embody that difference in your own work? How do you build something that's a community and not just an audience?
Mac: It's a difficult question to answer, I think.
I think one of the beauties and the dangers of community is that it can manifest in so many different ways. Community for one initiative versus another company versus that... It takes so many different forms. It's like sales. Sales is sales, marketing is marketing, [inaudible] consumer and enterprise, but it's pretty much the same thing with a different coat of paint. Community can be completely different.
So I think the simple act is it's bringing people together. I think a lot of times companies... We actually have this thing we call the community led model. I'm part of that. There have been broadcasting and connecting so broadcasting is that audience model, it's pushing information out whereas the community model is pulling people in around what you're doing and once again, that can take on so many different shapes and forms depending on the company and what that pulling in actually looks like.
It's not necessarily always as obvious or as simple as like, "Let's put people on a forum or a Slack or a tangible space." It feels like product lead in a way this community led thing where it's like product led is not a tangible thing you necessarily look at, it affects the entire way a company works, it affects how their marketing team works, it affects how their sales team works, it affects how their product team works. Just like a truly human company is not just like, "We have a community therefore we're community-led." Actually, it does impact how the entire organization functions if you put community at the core and how it manifests is different.
That's a bit of a non-answer maybe but it is big asterisk like anything about community is like it depends.
Tony: Let's put it in more concrete terms. You got your hand in a lot of different pots right now where were you working on building community and facing this. How are you trying to build a real community as opposed to an audience in one of your projects now?
Mac: Yeah, well, I guess the Community Club is our primary vessel through which our community building happens. And it's actually pretty interesting. This is not called the Commsor community and we have people, they'll be a community member for a year, and realized, "Wait, you guys are also the people behind Commsor." We very intentionally made it bigger than in Commsor.
That's actually one of the interesting shifts that I think is happening with more companies right now is this shift from community of product to community of interest where historically was you buy our product then you join our community. You join the community, talk about the product, get support, send product ideas, which that's all good and I'm not saying company shouldn't do community as a product but it very much limits the scope of conversation and reason for people to be there. Whereas a community of interest is you join the community, then you come to the product and actually flips that script on its head.
So we're doing a lot of that. I think we're doing a lot of... We show not tell. We're trying to build community and show people how we're doing it and dogfooding our own products.
And so very often actually, we'll have an idea for a product feature, we'll test it manually, or through no code things in our own community, take those learnings, then convert it into product stuff, then combine the learnings and the product and push that to our customers. We're combining a lot more of just... Instead of just being like, "Hey, here's a product feature." It's like, "Hey, here's a product feature that we built for ourselves and here's the proof that it works and here's how you can adopt it yourself."
We're really tying that community as a thread through the entire business like I mentioned before versus like, "Yeah, we got a Slack group we can hang out, have fun," which is I think how a lot of community initiatives really are when you boil them down right now.
Tony: Yeah, yeah. If I'm in Community Club, I want to be more than just a lurker, how do I surface and become more of an active participant in the community?
Mac: Yeah, there's a lot of ways. That's another thing I think that's interesting is that community members come in different shapes and forms and there's some members that they might be in our Slack and they've never posted a thing but they open and read our newsletter every single week and they still get value out of content being created in the community. So we've created a whole host of initiatives and different ways you can get involved.
So we have a mentorship programs. We'll have folks that come into the community as they start because they want to find a mentor, they just got their first job in community, how do I get started. We have Meetsy which is an introduction infrastructure, helps you get connected, you'll start there or they'll join the Slack and just start posting a question or they'll start by attending an event.
So there's a lot of different onramps into the community. And some people will get involved with one and then over time get involved with all them. Some people will get involved in one and never get involved more than that, and that's okay. This idea of engagement comes in lots of different forms. And that's actually fine.
That's one of the struggles we're trying to build for with our software is defining what an engaged community member is. It's not as simple as just like, "Did they post a thing or not?" It's vastly more complicated than I think the data problem that a sales or marketing team tries to solve where it's like, "Yes, someone downloaded our ebook, therefore, they're marketing qualified lead. Done. Easy." Community is much less obvious at times.
Tony: Yeah, it can be a hard thing for software to track. You could have a really great community and have a hard time seeing that show up in the numbers, for sure.
Mac: Yeah, definitely. That's one of our things that we're telling a story with the numbers. It's not as important to be like, "Hey, you have 1000 members and 600 of them are active last month, but actually trying to look at how does someone engaging with the community from business perspective impact numbers outside of community."
And that's once again this idea of pulling the thread through is if you are head of community for a company and you go to your head of sales and like, "We have 5000 members in our community," your head of sales is probably going to go, "Okay, cool." But if you can say, "Hey, we have 5,000 members in our community and these 200 are actually on your lead list and they're engaging," it's like, "Okay." Well, now you've added context that's actually interesting.
So a lot of is how do you take these community numbers and add a context so other members of the company can understand the value and by doing that move, community come more to the core of the company versus the, excuse my French, bastard child bolt-on that it's historically been where it's like, "Yeah, we'll just throw under marketing. Great. We have a Slack channel now. We have a community." How do you move it more to the center?
Tony: I really appreciate that you said excuse my French before saying the word bastard. That's very... We try to avoid the sweary swears when we can.
Mac: That's like-
Jillian: Do we? Do we?
Tony: We are going to have the guy from Fuckup Nights in a future episode so-
Mac: That's going to be a hard one to avoid.
Jillian: It'll be a fun one.
Tony: Profanities are going to happen.
Jillian: I can't fucking wait.
Mac: Sometimes I believe that single profanity can really get the point across though.
Tony: Yeah, yeah. But you got to save them up.
So I surmised that using Commsor's tools helps you to do a better job of being able to quantify some of these things and just to understand your community better. Do you have any good specific case studies or stories of, "I was running my community and it was cool, but it was kind of a mess. I didn't know what's going on. Started using these tools, now I got this very specific insight that helped me maybe make an adjustment and really take it to the next level?"
Mac: Yeah. And there's a lot. We're not trying to present our tools like a replacement for the human work that goes into community. I think it's pretty easy when you look at the growing number of sales and marketing tools are like, "You don't need a marketer now. This is automated." "You don't need a salesperson now. This sends automated outbound messages." Community is the opposite of all of that.
So we like to frame our tools... It's like a data brain to enable the humans who are working in community to do a better job of the things that software can't do. It's not a replacement for that because I've had folks be like, "Oh, I need to hire a community manager if I buy your software." Well, no, that's not... If you buy Salesforce, you don't have a sales team, Salesforce is not going to sell your product for you. It's probably similar to that.
We've a lot of focusing just getting the data in one place, just the time it saves them where they just have access to the information at their fingertips, they understand who to engage with, when. Yeah, you got 500 members in your community, you probably keep that in your head, if you have 1000, 5000, 10,000 100,000, that's not possible anymore.
A lot of our customers before they came to us were dealing with the manual data wrangling in a Google Sheet or an Airtable and they were getting maybe a third of the way towards what Commsor gives them manually but it was taken eight hours of their week just to collect data and put it together. So a lot of is like day one value is save you time so you can do more of the things that you should be doing as a community manager not downloading CSVs and trying to mix them together and have all that. So that's, right out of the gate, a lot of people find value in that because they can just do their jobs more effectively.
Tony: I love that. That makes it really concrete for me because I've managed communities at various sizes and I have a lot of experience with spit and glue of like I can look at a spreadsheet or an Airtable and I know like, "This is my community. I know what's going on with all of these people." But that doesn't … past a certain point. It just can't anymore and you're going to need some firepower to help you handle that larger scale. So that... Yeah.
Mac: Yeah. Just like you start out as the first salesperson at a startup, use a Notion table as your CRM and you're tracking sales deals. But at a certain point, you end up with a purpose built tool. And that's what we're trying to build for. Let's say if you're starting your community today, realistically, you don't need Commsor on day one for most people which also is a funny thing I can imagine. People like, "Wait, you're going to tell me I don't need the tool? Why aren't you going to try and sell it to me?" It's like, "Because you don't need it." It's funny how surprised people are sometimes when you say that.
Jillian: Yeah, that helps build trust, too, though. It's like, "Okay."
Mac: That's one of the pillars of community, right? Authenticity and trust. And it's great. I'll actually hop on a sales call with someone like the power of committee by the way. They'll have been a member of the Community Club for six, nine months, on a 30-minute sales call, we'll spend 15 minutes be like, "Oh my God, I love the community. I met this person, this resource, this event you guys did," and I'm like, "Hey, can I show you..." like, "Oh, yeah, of course, you can show us the product. Yeah, I love what you guys are doing it."
It builds such an authenticity that just doesn't exist in a traditional sales or marketing.
Tony: Social capital. Got to love it.
Jillian: I'm curious. I have followup questions to that. But first, first pre followup followup. What do you think... Is there a number you all have figured out that once you have this many members or this benchmark within growth or whatever, it's time for a more robust platform like this?
Mac: It depends again. I'm just going to put that caveat out there. It seems to be somewhere the 500 to 1000 member mark is where a community manager can no longer just do it in their head. We've got customers that have three or 400 members that are using our product to great value. We've spoken to folks are like, "Yeah, I don't think I need this. I've 10,000." It differs from community to community depending on...
And also because 500 members in a Slack channel feels like significantly more than 500 members on a Reddit, for example. The number also manifests in different ways depending on the location. Or 500 members in a forum will feel like less than 500 in a Slack just because the nature of async for sync and things like that.
We also found that it typically comes down to the number of tools. All you have the Slack, you can probably get away with managing in your head for longer but once you start to layer in, you want to have a Twitter, newsletter, events, that's... Even if you only have 500 members, the multichannel aspect typically necessitates the need for something a bit more substantial.
Tony: It's interesting because when I talk to community builders, there's various pain points that come up as is true in any business or endeavor, and I feel I think it might help over time if we're able to create more clear cut senses of different scales of a community organism to say, "Hey, in the beginning, you don't need super tools for this and that, but once you start reaching the boundary of your scale, you're going to start hitting these pain points because you're starting to become that next level of community where you're going to need these tools because things that you used to be able to just do yourself, you can't anymore."
Mac: Yeah. I think over the last year and a half, most people that we've sold Commsor to or Commsor OS have been folks who've gotten to the point where it got too far. The community got out of hand and like, "Holy crap, I've got thousands of members. It's working. But it's duct taped together. It's a huge mess behind the scenes."
We're seeing a lot more of folks who are coming in from zero who are like, "Okay, we've decided community is important to us as a company. We're going to start from zero. How can you help us?" But early on, it was like people who knew community was important already and got the cart in front of the horse in some ways. Community managers are like superheroes. You look at the amount of work that they handle right across small teams and small budgets. It's wild.
It's changing. I think it's... I can't remember the number but there's been a huge increase in the number of community teams that are actually teams now instead of communities of one or teams of one. So it's changing.
There's a lot of demand for community, that's actually a separate topic which is like the community buzzword effect of the last year and a half for every company is like, "Community is important," and are they really getting it right or wrong.
My favorite anecdotal point on that growth is that when we started our newsletter about two years ago, I would spend an hour or two a week hunting for five jobs to include in the job section. Now, every week, we're like, "Which 20 of the 300 jobs are we going to include this week?"
Jillian: It's so great, though. You still though, you can still go on Glassdoor or whatever and look for community roles and it'll be a senior housing development, they're like, "We need a community manager."
Mac: Community manager is just a terrible title. It has manager in it which is misleading at times. It's been coopted now to sometimes mean social media to mean marketing to mean apartment community manager. We are seeing though that kind of specialization of community marketing, community operations. We're seeing a little bit of that happen over the last 12 months which is a pretty good sign that the space is like, I don't say professionalizing that's the wrong word because there have been professional community managers for a long time but mature.
Jillian: We're growing up.
Jillian: Yeah, mature. It's probably better.
So to my actual followup question and it's jumping back in the conversation a bit but we were talking about Community Club and you'd get on those calls with people and spend most of it. They would be gushing about how much they love the community. And something I love that happened in your community that these are just my favorite moments as a community builder is when an inside joke starts.
You had an inside joke that evolved into an entire big part of your brand. So I'd love you to tell us about the Commsaur dinosaur.
Mac: Yes, it's [crosstalk].
Tony: We're talking about Commsaur, S-A-U-R.
Jillian: Commsaur, roar.
Mac: Yes. It needs to be written out. So if you're listening to this, it's confusing, right? But it's about a year ago probably. So our company is called C-O-M-M-S-O-R, for anyone listening, and someone misspelled I think it was in the Slack, it might have been on Twitter, I can't actually remember. They misspelled it as C-O-M-M-S-A-U-R and instantly someone like "Ha ha, like a dinosaur." And over the last year, within our team, within our community, the dinosaur thing just took a whole dinosaur puns, dinosaur references, the Commsaur came back, it kind became our internal mascot.
And we actually ended up adopting it I think about a month ago. We updated our logo. Our logo is now the Commsaur [crosstalk].
Jillian: Full outward brand.
Mac: Yes, it's... And actually, part of this, we're building this full stack community but like a full stack software company but a lot of is targeted towards enterprise and very often enterprise branding is boring but community can and should be fun. I think community is often the place where a brand can have a voice that's a little bit more unique and fun and interesting than traditional brand communications. If community can and should be fun, why can't Commsor's branding be a little bit fun as well. So we tried to walk that line between clean and enterprising but also, there's dinosaurs all over our website now. So I don't know how clean and enterprising that is at the end of the day.
But yeah, it's an inside joke that went super far and actually, I think I wrote a blog post about a year ago about this idea of community market fit like how do you know that your community is working, product market fit and your community has inside jokes was one of the pieces on that.
Jillian: It's so true in so many ways. It's the kind of insight... This is an example of just the perfect inside joke because it's not harmful in any way, it's not mean spirited, it's just silly but funny and it does. Commsaur has that dinosaur end, if you want it to. But the fact that someone can join your community today and maybe not know what the dinosaur means and then find out and jump into the jokes immediately and be a part of it, it's super inclusive. It's like, mwah, it's perfect.
And so much so that now your company is dabbling in the NFT world, and from what I can tell, it's all dinosaurs all the time.
Mac: Dinosaurs all the way through.
Jillian: It's very Jurassic.
So how did this whole... The NFT communities like the Discords and whatnot, I'm an oldie so just sitting here watching this, the funniest thing is I think I snorted seen an Instagram meme or something about the original NFTs and it was a picture of one of those from the '90s in the mall, those things you'd put coins in and push the metal thing and then stickers would come out. You'd get some stickers and which ones did you get? Did you get the cool ones that they show you? Or did you get the crappy ones and then you could trade them and there's like, "The original NFTs." And first of all, I can already tell before I look that the comments are a bunch of bros being like, "Well, those are fungible."
But also, I was like, "That's exactly how this is to me." I don't know what's going on. But my old person tangent aside, it's interesting a lot of different I would say community centric, community focus companies, or groups, depending how organized they are, are dabbling in this and then it's becoming an offshoot community of its own. Curious, your experience on your end as a CEO of a company that is doing exactly that, how is that going?
Mac: Yeah. Oh, man. It's hard to answer that question without spending the rest of this episode talking just about that because there's so many rabbit holes-
Jillian: Let's keep it at a five-year-old. Explain it to me like I'm five level for my sake. Totally for the audience. Not totally [crosstalk].
Mac: For us, it's... I was never big into crypto, Web3, NFTs, like that. I fell in the rabbit hole a little bit six, seven, eight months ago mostly because we're building a community company and community obviously is a big part of this Web3 thing. Every Web3 company has a committee way more than... It's like everyone has Discord server, they all have community managers in some form or another, and time and time again, it was like, "Hey, Commsor is the community company. What are you guys going to explore? You guys going to build anything for Web3 companies? You going to build something for Web3 companies?"
It's like all right. So I started dabbling and experimenting and trying to figure out what does community in a Web3 world mean. I'm not one to jump headfirst in without knowing necessarily what I'm jumping into. So I was like experiment on the personal level and then maybe figure out what it means from there.
A caveat, I want to put the asterisk out in front as well that there are a lot of problems with the world, the NFT world. I know we announced we're doing NFTs or some people in our community, they're like, "How could you guys? It's awful. It's full of scams and stuff." I'm like, "Yeah, but at the same time, so is Web2." I can go pay $1,000 to get a course on how to make $10,000 a month. That's a scam too. If there's an opportunity to make money, humans will find a way to scam people out of it. That's not unique to Web3. That's just human nature. If there's money involved, someone will find a way to cheat.
But for us, so we put together a dinosaur themed NFT project and the idea is really to experiment and learn. We're not pivoting our company to Web3. We're not launching tools for Web3 companies, maybe not yet at least. But I'm always a fan of learning by doing and learning by experimenting and just we did with the Community Club, we learned what our software should be and what kind of company we should be by doing it with our community by building a community and doing them in parallel. So we want to take what we've done with the Community Club and do it from a Web3 tilt.
So we're building NFT project that's designed to fund resources and education and all the things we've done with the Community Club but for Web3 community managers because it's actually not a lot of that out there. If you think that community managers in Web2 world haven't had support or resources the last 10 years, Web3 is even further behind.
So it's an experiment. It's a place for us to learn and build a community and experiment what does community mean in a Web3 world because I'm not sure anyone has truly answered that question yet outside of people saying community is important in Web3. No one's really answered... I can tell you what community means in Web2. I can tell you what the benefit is to a company. I can tell you how you should build it. Outside of people have Discord servers and they say community, what does it mean in Web3.
So it's an experiment for us. It's a thing we want to figure it out with the community. It doesn't impact what we're doing with the Community Club. It's a separate initiative as part of it and it's a place for us to learn and experiment alongside people.
Tony: I'm curious about your hypothesis. You're breaking into this, you guys have... Your dinos are out. They've been minted, they've been bought.
Jillian: Dino bones.
Tony: And when I happened to catch when this really launched, not too long ago now and I saw a tweet on February 21st from the Commsaur saying how nearly every Web3 project has some form of community, still significant lack of education, content, definition. Along with our community, we want to set the standard. So I'm curious, how are you guys aspiring to set the standard?
Mac: I think, honestly, you can look what we've done with the Community Club and it's going to be a very similar model but I'm thinking with that Web3 tilt. So we're going to experiment and learn ourselves what it means building community in Web3. We're going to build in the open, we're going to document it, AMA guests and event some other folks who've built communities successfully in the Web3 space and learning from them and learning alongside them.
The honest answer is I don't know exactly what it looks like yet. That's part of the process is to figure out what that is.
Jillian: I like the idea that it is flexible. And so as an organization, you've chosen to take it a very community focused way, obviously. Very on brand. And you can do that and sure, there will be the people who don't get it swoop in and then they'll swoop out just like someone who's not planning to be engaged in your community versus people who are highly engaged get it and they're behind it.
And there's something really beautiful about that, that it can be this, for now anyways, an offshoot of what people think of when they think of crypto and NFTs and Web3, all of this jargon I'm still wrapping my head around.
Mac: Same for what it's worth.
Jillian: And I think the way you're... Yeah, I think we all are.
Mac: Even those who say they know it all I think are still figuring it out as they go.
Jillian: I think they know about the same amount as me they just say it with confidence.
Mac: They put the hard hat on, they carry the clipboard, and they can just get in anywhere.
The opportunity for artists I think it's really lovely. And I've seen a few different, unique ways of leveraging this whole thing. There's a small, little independent bookshop in this town near where I live and they minted some art that is to do with their bookstore. If you buy it, then you can use that to get a discount every time you go in. So it is a form of membership. It's like coopt almost. But how unique, right? What an interesting way to show support to your local bookshop. Just the guy that owns it, just dabbling [crosstalk]-
Mac: I think anyone who's a community builder who doesn't quite get it literally think of it's just the simple fact of it's a paid committee membership where there's no centralized authority that says you can't transfer that membership to someone else. That's what it is. And some communities that membership is based purely on the speculation of the value of the membership, others are based on actually gaining access to something that you want to be a member of and there's a spectrum there. And yeah, a lot of projects right now are financial instruments that they don't want to be classified as that but that's basically what they're trying to be. But yeah, there's a lot of interesting use cases.
And like I said, part of this we want to do this is figure out what those use cases are ourselves because I don't know. I don't know the full answer yet.
Jillian: Yeah. Well, I like your method of doing it where it's like, yeah, if the price goes up or down, it's based on community value. It's not you pulling levers trying to manipulate it to make money.
Well, this has been... I feel like I need to think about a lot of these things a lot for a bit and-
Mac: You should buy a Commsaur and learn with us.
Jillian: I know. Well, I was just looking at and I'm already confused-
Mac: That's the biggest problem in the space-
Jillian: ... but it's on me not...
Mac: ... honestly right now. It's not very welcoming to new people.
Jillian: Well, I think the part I don't get because I've got the Coinbase Wallet. I'm ready to go. I've got crypto but then when it comes to this stuff, I'm like, "Wait, how do I do this?" And then, "Wait, am I buying minted or second on the market [crosstalk]-"
Mac: We went out of our way. We [inaudible] and some people were like, "Why are you explaining that? I know." I'm like, "Yeah, but other people don't necessarily..."
Jillian: Jill doesn't know.
Mac: There is a little bit of us versus them mentality sometimes in the Web3 space that is not super welcoming to folks who haven't done it for six months already.
Tony: Having come up in the developer community or the tech world that, why are you explaining this? I know how. It's a poignant moment. Yeah.
But we are ready to ask you some questions that you can explain to us in a rapid fire format. Jill, are you going to lead the charge here?
Jillian: I think you should do it. I've been babbling.
Tony: Okay. All right. All right. All right. All right. I got it. I got this.
All right, so Mac, we are into the rapid fire. We're going to ask you quick questions, you give us quick answers. One sentence or less. We are going to do our very best to resist asking followup questions. And then we'll get your links and send you on your way. You feeling ready?
Mac: Let's do it.
Jillian: It's a quiz. It's a crypto quiz.
Mac: I'm going to fail.
Explain to us in one sentence or less.
Jillian: I've already failed. It's fine.
Tony: What are gas fees? No. Okay. All right.
Question number one. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Mac: Oh, depends on what age you asked me. Young cowboy. At some point, I wanted to be an astronaut like every 10-year-old. For a long time, I want to be a Lego set designer. That was the thing I want to do for a long time. Still super into Lego. You can see Lego bonsai tree behind me. But yeah, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up is the current answer.
Tony: That's totally fair.
How do you define community?
Mac: Oh, it depends the time of day again. I think it's the act of bringing people together on a shared purpose is the simplest way I would put it.
Tony: Succinct. I will take it.
Let's talk your bucket list. What is something that you've checked off your bucket list, something you've done?
Mac: Went to the Galapagos Islands.
Mac: Actually for four months, too.
Tony: Jill, we need to do a spin-off podcast of-
Jillian: Followup questions?
Tony: ... entire episode conversations from just the rapid fire.
Jillian: Low fire, the slow fire-
Mac: Slow fire’d be a good name for a podcast.
Tony: Slow fire. I'm registering the domain now.
Something on your bucket list that's still on the list that you've yet to do.
Mac: I don't know. I'm not one that keeps a very active bucket list. I want to travel more, classic cheesy answer I think. I'd like to build a cabin myself one day, like an A frame cabin. I want to build it myself from scratch.
Jillian: That's fun.
Tony: I love it.
Jillian: That's legit.
Tony: That is a killer bucket list item.
What is a book that you're loving either currently or all time?
Mac: Ender's Game usually my go-to answer for all time fiction book. And actually, I forget what it's called there's this follow up one to it which is actually the same story but told from the other characters' perspectives, from Bean's perspective, I can't remember what it's called, it's better than the original book. But not a lot of people know about it. So that's what I would recommend. If you're a fan of sci-fi, you have to read it.
If you could live anywhere else other than where you currently live, where would you live?
Mac: Copenhagen, Denmark.
Tony: Very specific. Gosh.
Mac: I'm half Danish so there is some bias there. I grew up spending a lot of time.
Tony: Amazing. Oh.
And finally, how do you want to be remembered?
Mac: Wow, that's a loaded last question.
I don't know. I'm not someone who's gone through life doing things because I want to be remembered. I like doing things. I think I'm very much like an in the moment kind of person. I don't know. I want to be remembered for the things I did I guess. That sounds weird when I say it that way. But yeah, I want to build things and I want to do cool things that other people like basically is the space of my entire purpose in life.
Tony: I love it. I love it.
And how do we find you and all your awesome projects on the internet?
Mac: A lot of it, you can start at Commsor.com, C-O-M-M-S-O-R, just because it's a weird one. You don't want to end up on the dino website, you want to end up on the main one.
And then myself, I have a weird social handle. So I'm TheTeaGuns which is a whole separate backstory to it on places like Twitter.
Tony: Mac, thank you so much for your time. Keep doing amazing work you're doing. Appreciate you and we'll be following your journey.
Mac: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Tony: All right, Mac Reddin, Commsor and Commsaur and Community Club-
Tony: Commsaur, roar. Goodness.
I respect so much the willingness to just get out there and try stuff and invite people to join you for the journey. He even mentioned like with Commsaur, S-A-U-R, that it's clear that he doesn't have a full roadmap of exactly where it's going. But he knows that it's an interesting topic that his people also want to explore and learn more about as they go. And they went and sold 3333 Dino NFTs to people who want to go on that journey with them and gosh, I respect that.
Jillian: That is dino might.
Tony: You have been dying to use that.
Jillian: I have. It's been in my pocket for a while.
Tony: I lobbed that one up to you and you just spiked it down.
Jillian: I just waited. Yeah, I was like, "Uh, it's the perfect serve."
Jillian: Yeah. Well, and I love that he even said, we're talking about it and is like, "I don't totally understand this space but that's why we're going to try it and figure out how to do community in it and do it well to become a resource for people." And along the way, they have cute little dinosaurs. Even if you go look at their website, forget about seeing pictures, you're going to see their little dinosaur avatars. I think it's cute.
Tony: I got to say I think, specifically because it's an NFT project, it helps to even further underscore that commitment because when I look at it from the outside, I think, "Okay, they're selling pictures of dinosaurs.”
And so I think for me, it really helps to be a bit of an antidote to perfectionism to say, "If I'm going to go off and work on some new project, I inherently can't have it all figured out when I hit the launch button. And the more that I can integrate that into my process leading up to and after launching a project, the more likely I'm going to be able to bring people along for the ride and build something that we can work on together."
Jillian: Well, it's very much... I think in community in particular, there's such a value of building in public and building together so you say, "Hey, let's try this thing." And then the people interested, the community members who want to be a part of it, they're invested. They're part of the ride. They're part of the observations and the discussions on like, "Oh, should we try this? Did this work?" And if it's a total flop, if it's a total failure, it's a learning experience for everybody. You're not going at it alone. It's very community. And so of course, naturally, I love it.
Tony: Just coming back to the more grounded world of Community Club and what he's done previously that's been more proven, underscoring the value again of figuring out how to be of service even to people who aren't your customers, you're also learning how to be better at what you do.
And so they've used that as their own case study. I'm sure they're using their own tools as a way of running Community Club and learning how to run Community Club better because their tools are helping them so they're being their own client and learning from it as they go. And we're playing with similar ideas now for SPI Pro and learning how to teach people how to build communities using Circle and things like that, and it's fun to see their example.
Jillian: Yeah. You're not wrong that it is a place for them to use their tools and in a passive way gain customers. For example, they acquired Meetsy and anybody who's used Meetsy, it's a wonderful tools for getting, especially companies, by the way, but just putting people together to get to know people you might otherwise not. I know a great model for it just as an aside is getting your CEO on calls with other people in your company to just get to know them.
But yes, overall, I think it's a very clever model to have this community that is free, that is about community building, but then your products are all community related and if you're using them within that community, it's natural that if they need a meet software, they're going to be like, "Oh, Meetsy, I know how to use that."
Tony: Yeah, that's great. It's a good example. And I feel like it's a good prompt for discussion just to think how can I be providing value and how can I be experimenting in a way that maybe we don't even know where it's going to lead yet. So if you're not running something currently, this is still relevant to you.
And I think we see this time and again, that a lot of really great projects, communities, businesses start out as experiments, start out as side projects, something for fun, and it could become super successful and still never actually be a business per se but could become this thriving thing which still provides a lot of value for you and for the people involved which then supports wherever you end up going in a more professional way.
Tony: If this is inspiring to you, I would love to hear it. Please send us a message. We are TeamSPI on Twitter and we want to know are you thinking about how you might be able to build something that can serve folks who aren't necessarily your customers. Go ahead and hit us up on the Twitter's.
Jillian: Thanks for being with us. We will see you next Tuesday.
Tony: This has been The Community Experience. For more information on this episode including links and show notes, head over to smartpassiveincome.com/listen.
If you want to find Mac Reddin, he is @TheTeaGuns, the, T-E-A, guns on Twitter and his community can be found, it's Commsor, C-O-M-M-S-O-R, and Commsaur, C-O-M-M-S-A-U-R, you can find those on Twitter. It's also Commsor.com. Yeah, they're all over the internet's as both of those monikers. So go ahead and check them out.
Our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Our series producers are David Grabowski and senior producer Sarah Jane Hess, editing and sound design by Duncan Brown, music by David Grabowski.
Jillian: See you next time.