Without having prior Twitter experience, Justin Vogel grew his follower count to over 1,000 in a short period of time. How? By summarizing web3 content that other people have already created.
In this episode, we talk to Justin Vogel. He is the co-founder of Safary, a new powerful attribution system designed to bring web3 to the masses. Also, the number one destination for web3 growth leaders to exchange tactical insights.
Justin discusses his experience growing communities and how Safary became the go-to community for web3 growth leaders. He also discusses how to get accepted to Safary, tips for running a web3 startup, and what's next for Safary.
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10 lessons from building the top web3 growth community
The Web3 Growth Technology Landscape
[00:00:00] Teaser: I gathered a small group of 40 growth leaders from around the world to talk about what is the web3 marketing stack gonna look like? And that led to us creating the Safary community which is now 300. And now Safary serves a very different purpose which is much more of a developing the ecosystem rather than developing product adoption.
[00:00:18] Kaz: Welcome to Zero to Three podcast, where we interviewed emerging founders in the web3 ecosystems. We'll talk about how they got started, what they learned along the way, and we'll transform their stories into actionable insights. We're a co-host. I'm Kaz. I'm Kevin.
[00:00:32] Kevin: Today we are joined by Justin Vogel, co-founder of Safary, a new powerful attribution system designed to bring web3 to the masses. And also the number one destination for web3 growth leaders to exchange tactical insights.
In today's show, Justin tells us his experience as a growth leader. The difficulties and lessons he faced as a first-time founder. How Safary became the most sought-after web3 community. And finally the strategy that gained him his first thousand followers on Twitter. Stick around to learn his exact method for becoming a prominent web3 content creator.
Justin begins by describing his journey from web2 to web3 and the origins of Safary.
[00:01:09] Justin: My background is all in growth. So I started off my career at a early Y Combinator startup as their first employee. I just did a lot of sales, marketing, ops, product alongside a team of three engineers.
I was managing a community of around a hundred thousand developers at that startup. And so we are doing what one would call community-led growth at that point in time, though obviously didn't have that shiny cool name back then. And so then the company was later acquired by Lyft, and so I went on and joined a new marketplace company called Sequoia, which was a scaling series C company.
I was doing traditional growth marketing and then built out the company's experimentation platform and was managing a team of 13. And then I had left to join and dive into web3 as a founder, which was one year ago this month. So November, 2021. And I was looking, so that was the peak of the bull market as we remember.
And I was looking at all this amazing growth happening across all these different companies and thinking like, is this growth real? is it fake? What's going on? This growth is so much more powerful for a lot of these companies than anything that I had seen in my career. Up until that point in time, and I gathered a small group of 40 growth leaders from around the world to talk about what does web3 growth actually look like?
What is the web3 marketing stack gonna look like? Just really answer all these fundamental questions. And, you know, none of us had the answers and many of us. But gathering just, a group of thought leaders to think about the future of growth in web3.
And that led to us creating the Safary community which is now 300. and slowly but surely from there we also started creating, a product, which is attribution infrastructure.
[00:02:43] Kevin: Through his conversations with other web3 growth leaders, about the future of growth. He found an opportunity that led him to create a new attribution infrastructure.
Justin: We essentially have two projects. We have our community and we have our actual product. On the community side, I think that it presented a wide open, like white space of design choices and you know, really an opportunity to grow my career in a very new way for, with the new industry.
And so I wasn't doing anything crypto before, but I really saw an opportunity, to combine all the interesting things that were going on in the crypto blockchain space with my background in growth. And so I saw this as a really unique opportunity and moment to take this next step and really bet on building a personal brand around web3 growth.
So that's more on the community side and the personal brand side. But for the product as well, I think that web3 has very unique characteristics, especially around attribution. So attribution at its core is how do I, you know, put $1 in and get one, $1 and 20 cents out for my business and know that the money that I'm spending is actually driving results.
And in web2, the sys the attribution systems that exist are slowly dying for a number of different reasons. Mainly I'd say like FAANG Company infighting and trying to. Yeah, hurt each other's businesses. But in web3 there's also a, a very unique data properties that make attribution very attractive and possible at a very high scale from the beginning to the open nature of blockchain.
[00:04:04] Kevin: As a first-time founder, Justin quickly learned that a lot of web3 founders are not just building a startup, but they're also shaping a new market. He dives into this further.
Justin: This is my first time founding a company and I'm sure that the challenges are just as hard in web2. But I think the challenges are, really much more fundamental for a lot of web3 founders. A lot of web3 founders are not just building a company, but they're also building an industry.
And this sort of ecosystem mindset is different from where a lot of web2 founders begin today. Like if you were in web2, if I was gonna like build a productivity software of some kind, like productivity space already exists, right? Like, that's like a no known, okay? Like now I'm gonna build a company and differentiate myself in that market.
But in web3, what we saw with a lot of different founders, especially like, you know, I came into the space building a DAO tool a year ago, that market completely crumbled like two months later. There are other people that raised to build gaming guilds in web3. Market completely crumbled like three months later.
And so there's unique challenges of both building a market but also building a product within that market or a community within a market. And so I think that it's the unique challenges of being a web3 founder are really be able to be grounded on the ecosystem that you're building rather than just, a specific company or a specific product within your space.
[00:05:17] Kevin: The Safary community started out focusing on product adoption. This means creating new forms of utility for members to get value from each other outside of their platform. Up next Justin tells us about Safary's new purpose.
Justin: Overall experience growing communities. My background, as I mentioned, I'd worked for this company called Pramp, which was a mock interview tool for software engineers to practice interviewing. So they'd do a bidirectional interview, like I would interview you, you'd interview me back, and then we both provide each other feedback at the end of the interview.
I was growing a community of developers and the community was primarily had, served a different purpose. It was really about product exploration and having members be able to interact with each other outside of our product as well. So for example, we wanted to validate whether system design interviews would be a great new interview for us to do with them.
And we actually saw people organically setting. System design interviews coordinating within our discord. And so then we were like, oh, like, you know, people had requested this a lot and people are actually doing this organically, like we should actually build it into our platform. So our community was very centered around increasing product adoption and creating new forms of utility for members to get value from each other outside of our platform.
And now Safary serves a very different purpose which is much more of a developing the ecosystem rather than developing product adoption.
[00:06:33] Kevin: Many web3 leaders created open communities for anyone to join, but Justin did the complete opposite he focused on creating a tight-knit closed community focusing only on growth leaders. The results speak for themselves.
Justin: What I tend to think about growth, and this definitely is the case with Safary's community, is there are distinct moments in time when you can just try something different. And when we look at communities a year ago, communities were open. They were massive. Tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people.
They were text-based so like tons and tons of threads, tons of tons of activity, impossible to keep up. And they were what other interesting characteristics. I mean, those are the big ones. And so I said to myself, what if I just did created a community that's the exact opposite of all these things.
I wanna create a closed community. I want it to be audio-based, not, not text-based. And I wanna focus on a very specific segment, which is growth leaders rather than creating a community for like every possible person. And so I think that a combination of those factors, like my motivation in doing those things was more so like I want to create a community that's easy for me to manage. And managing like a hundred thousand people on the Discord like becomes chaos immediately.
And I'd seen as an early community leader in several other projects in web3, I'd seen how much of a crazy disaster it is to manage like a community that goes from like zero to 10,000 in like its first three days.
It's just madness. And so I think another important element of this too, is a lot of those very large communities were not really actually real communities.
If we think about it back they were large audiences that people had moved into a Discord and then said this is our community. And that's not really true. And when I think about community, I believe that members actually need to know each other personally. Not necessarily like I know you cause we're both living in San Francisco.
I had a real interaction with another community member around something. And so none of that, that primarily did not exist in those types of communities. And I wanted to really ensure that the members of Safary were interconnected and knew each other. And another big difference between Safary in its early days and those communities is that those communities were primarily actually externally facing, right?
By being open, they were seeing those communities as a way for acquisition for other things. And they're really focused on their Twitter personas and their presence and how their discord drives activity on their Twitter. But less so thinking about like, how do we actually provide value for members of our community?
And so Safary, you know, now we're more of, a larger external facing brands, but at the time, for the first, like seven or eight months of Safary. We didn't really post on Twitter ever, we were really focused on how do we create the most utility and most member interconnectivity for this small group of people.
And nothing else matters beyond that, right? And so I think that that approach is actually much more successful because what happened was we had all these community members who met other great people within our community. And found great knowledge within the community. And then they wanted to get their friends in because they're like, this is like the best community I've ever been in.
[00:09:29] Kevin: On that note, Justin shares a few stories of Safary community members who have learned a lot from other web3 growth leaders.
Justin: I actually heard from a member recently that some of the members that we led in for context are web2 growth leaders that we think have interesting backgrounds and that we think the web3 space would be better off if they were web3 growth leaders. And so there was one guy who joined who had a really interesting background and he joined and then about two months later, he got his first web3 growth role and he messaged me and said, you know, Safary was a huge talking point for me in my interviews to get my web3 growth role.
And so that was like a really crazy moment for me to be like, that's not really the desired outcome of our community, but like it's awesome that we were the space that helped make that happen for this person. But there are also so many different ones too, of like, people would be like, oh, like, yeah, I was recently talking to this person. Like, they're really awesome and now we're gonna do this thing together. And I'm like, oh, like, I don't know if you know, but like they're also in Safary and they're like, oh yeah, yeah, we met in Safary. Like that's how we know each. And so there have been many examples of, of that. So yeah, I, I mean, we do really try hard from the beginning to match every member as well.
So we ensure that those who join meet one other person at the very beginning of their journey in Safary. And oftentimes these, you know, conversations and experiences extend far beyond Safary's walls in Discord as well.
[00:10:45] Kevin: You might be wondering how can I join Safarys community? Justin gives us some pointers on how to accomplish exactly that.
Justin: So I'd say there are certainly two things. One is to be a growth leader either in web2 or web3 today. We are, at this point in time, the community is around 50% growth leaders, either web2 or web3, but primarily web3. 30% founders and then 20% from other segments, whether they're designers or analysts or engineers or investors.
So that's the easy but hard one. At the same time, if you're a growth leader, your chances are significantly higher than anybody else to get into our community. But the second thing is you can. Get in front of us by writing great content on web3 growth. Even while being part of a, being a member of another segment is there are very few people today writing about web3 growth or web3 community building in a sophisticated way or even just even like at all.
We've identified within Safary around 40 great articles and resources on web3 growth over the last year. Like there's not, there's really not much out there. So if you're writing about web3 growth that will definitely be a great way to get on our radar.
[00:11:47] Kevin: The next topic we talk about are Justin's tips for running a web3 startup. He mentioned two main pillars which are community building and education.
Justin: I think that a lot of people, you know, a lot of the focus in web3 today is around (a) community building and (b) education, and these two things come together with content. And content is extremely difficult to create high quality content.
But many people create and spend a lot of time creating content before they've actually validated whether people want that content. And so I think about community building content and products in the exact same way, which is you wanna validate that people actually want what you're gonna create before you spend the time creating it.
This all comes together is distribution, like validating whether people actually want what you're producing. And I have a very concrete example of this, which is you might have seen our growth technology marketing map that we put out that was like a huge hit. I had no idea that that was gonna be a huge hit for the record.
If you look at our Twitter about two weeks before we released the map, we, we did like a teaser post saying, hey, we're creating this map. We're gonna create a map of all the products, all the investors, etc. in the space. And if you wanna be on the map, like, you know, submit here.
And so then we saw a lot of products apply, not very many investors, so we were like, okay, we're not gonna build the investor map, right? So we're like, okay, people don't care about that. They just care about products. So then I, after that, I did another post and said, hey, we created this map. You know, it has a lot of these great teams who wants it?
A lot of people commented saying that they wanted the map. I validated that people want it and now I'm gonna make the map.
And then on my Twitter, I wrote, this was like a huge success. I created a playbook of how I've made this like Twitter thread explode of this map. Who wants it? Crickets. Nothing. So I was like, okay, well I don't think that people want this, but like, let me just send it later to our newsletter.
Seems like people didn't want it. And then, maybe if I send it to our audience, people will say, oh, you should have created that playbook. Let's see it. Nobody did, so I never created it. So that's an example of like, I think that you need to, with both communities that you might build and content that you might build. And anything else, try and validate that people actually want it before you spend the laborious hard work and time creating it. Because one, you validate that people want it, and two, you, it puts you on the clock, right?
[00:13:54] Kevin: Justin entered web3 without any connections in the space. So, how was he able to build such a great platform from the ground up? Here's the strategy on how to start from scratch.
Justin: I got into the space as a founder who didn't know anybody in the space. I did not know anybody in crypto. When I entered last year and I got, really got started by writing thread summaries of popular web3 crypto articles. And that helped me slowly grow my audience and become known as a web3 content creator.
It is, as you all know, at Zypsy, creating high quality content on web3 is very difficult. Creating original content is very difficult, but actually summarizing content that other people created is not that hard. And also it enables you to learn about a lot of different subjects as well. And so that was a huge key unlock for me in getting my first thousand-ish followers all highly engaged around web3.
I had never had a Twitter before. Before I entered web3. So I'd say, you know, if you're getting into web3 today, a great way to start is by summarizing web3 articles on Twitter. And people will naturally find you and opportunities will find you because people are in high, desperate need for great web3 content creators, not enough of them exist today and that's just a way for you to build your resume today.
[00:15:02] Kevin: The last thing I asked Justin is what's next for Safary?
Justin: We actually just launched our attribution product. It's live in the market today. And as a quick recap, it's like a Google Analytics alternative for web3. So it enables you to understand how the wallets that connect to your website, which channels they come from and what they do in the future.
And so that is already live with a number of different web3 games. So we'll continue working on that on the product side. For the community side, we will do our fifth batch in January. So that'll be the next opportunity for prospective growth leaders to join our next batch of 80. And yeah, in terms of the the ecosystem, yeah, keep it. Keep on looking at web3 growth leaders. They're doing some very exciting things across projects.
[00:15:43] Kevin: Among web3 growth communities, Safary has became the most desirable. Their attribution product has also recently gone live. It's the web3 equivalent of Google analytics. They're also opening up another batch to give the opportunity for new growth leaders to join their community
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