“We’re here to give community managers a seat at the top table of their businesses,” says Tomas Jasovsky, founder and CEO of AhoyConnect, a tech start-up for which he has just completed a $3m seed funding round. Increasing numbers of companies are convinced that their communities can be powerful drivers of growth, Jasovsky points out, but they still lack the data and insight required to support strategic investment and support for such networks.
“What used to be product-led growth is now becoming community-led growth,” Jasovsky argues. A former product manager and designer, he has spent the last decade working with tech companies to lead products and scaling their remote teams. The idea is that you provide your customers – and other stakeholders – with a platform where they can interact with one another. Their conversations might cover anything from a technical query about using your services to suggestions for how to make better use of them. They become advocates for your brand, help you identify new use cases and provide a rich seam of insight to direct future product development.
Great in principle, but there is a problem, Jasovsky points out. “Organisations lack the understanding of what happens inside their community and the value it brings to the business.” In other words, they believe the community works as a concept, but they’re not sure exactly how, or how much. That gets in the way of maximising the value of the asset – and prevents community managers playing their full role.
Independent research supports Jasovsky’s case. Research from CMX suggests that while 86% of businesses believe that community has become critical to their mission, 45% are struggling to quantify its value.
That’s where AhoyConnect comes in. Its platform pulls in data from community tools such as Discourse, Slack, InSided, Discord, Twitter and GitHub, as well as linking to businesses’ own internal data sources. From that data, AhoyConnect can create a centralised dashboard so that businesses can track what is going on with their communities. In addition, the data drives potentially powerful analytics, giving businesses metrics for the first time about the impact of the community on sales, marketing and other key functions.
“We want to become businesses’ community data adviser,” says Jasovsky. “We can help community managers prove their worth and leverage their value.” They will be able to pinpoint the platforms that drive new customers, identify sales prospects and product champions with the most influence, and automate repetitive community management tasks.
It is a pitch that has caught the eye of investors including Inovo Venture Partners and KAYA, which led the company’s seed round, with additional funding also raised from pre-seed investor Lighthouse Ventures. “Like many others in tech, we’re convinced that community-led growth is the next big thing,” says Michal Rokosz, a partner at Inovo. “AhoyConnect is a solution that not only addresses the confluence of all the workplace and collaboration tools but also the manner in which we work and communicate in 2021 and beyond.”
It is high praise for a business that is still in the early stages of development. Jasovsky envisages a software-as-a-service model for AhoyConnect, but for the time being, it is a closed platform. The company is working with around 10 key partners to hone its tools before opening them up to paying customers – that should happen early in the new year, Jasovsky thinks.
In the meantime, he is also focused on scaling up the business, with new hires, including a chief data officer coming on board in recent weeks. “We want to be in a position to build a platform that is scalable for everyone else,” he says.
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