Ward Sandler is the Co-founder of Memberspace.
Memberspace allows you to turn any part of your website into members-only with just a few clicks. Simply lock access to any page of your website then choose what people pay to get in.
Create memberships for anything you want like courses, video tutorials, member directories, and more while having 100% control over the look & feel.
Ward and his team of designers & developers started Memberspace after realising how much of a need it was. Prior to building the Memberspace software they ran a web design agency who have built and supported over 400 websites, eCommerce stores, and web applications.
Ben & Ward deep dive into all things member sites and the future of building communities online.
Ward Sandler - MemberSpace - Spotlight Podcast-MP3 for Audio...
Sun, 4/26 5:36PM • 44:38
people, membership, build, membership site, squarespace, community, business, cms, tools, launch, features, big, code, website, platforms, cases, member, site, page, functionality
Ward Sandler, Ben Tossell, Wade - Memberspace
Ben Tossell 00:00
Ward Sandler 00:24
Yeah, everybody, and thanks for having me. I'm done. So yeah, member space is a way to easily add membership functionality to any website on the internet with just a few clicks. So tell us which pages you want to protect. Tell us which content within those pages you want to protect, if you want to be that nuanced, and then how much you want to charge for access. We're really geared towards non technical folks like the whole no code thing or even if you don't do no code, just if you're not super tech savvy. We're our whole goal is to make this really easy to create like a real membership business that can scale up to do you know, millions of dollars or if you're just doing And you have your first member.
Ben Tossell 01:02
Awesome. How long is most has been going for?
Wade - Memberspace 01:05
We've been around for a minute, since 2015. Actually, that's
Ben Tossell 01:09
like an age in, in start.
Wade - Memberspace 01:11
Yeah, it's like dog years or something.
Ben Tossell 01:13
Yeah. Um, and what was it? Like? What was the sort of landscape? Like, in 2015? I suppose. I mean, I see the landscape because it was like this whole new code movement and everyone talking about no code now, the last sort of year or two. I mean, yeah, look at it has been around for a long time. It's just not had this trendy name, I guess. Yeah. Do you do you really see yourselves as a no code tool? Is it just is that like a secondary benefit of what you built maybe members pays for? And it just happens to be that you don't have code?
Wade - Memberspace 01:53
Yeah, I mean, we were no code before. Like it was a hashtag so yeah, cuz 2015 I was a long time ago in the internet. And we always were positioned in position for and our goal has always been make this simple for non technical people, which is, you know, I'd say that's the similar ethos of no code. Maybe there's some nuance difference. There's but yeah, we don't really think like, do we can start us off no code tool, I think we are just because the fact that you don't need to know coding to use us. So by definition we are. But again, our our big focus is just trying to make this simple. So if you're super technical know how to code using number space should be a breeze, if you are not super technical at all. And like even using something like web flow, or Squarespace is kind of hard for you. We still are here to try to help you and make this as easy as possible. And if you're somewhere in between, they're like more like a pro no coder. Again, that should be pretty easy to use. That's kind of what we focus on is just make it simple.
Ben Tossell 02:49
Awesome. Is there like a Is there a few tools that you focus on initially or you rolled them out or it was a How is the transition been as often throughout 2015 when Imagine what but less people were on webflow and more people who are on something else.
Wade - Memberspace 03:06
Yeah, yeah, like for sure we started on Squarespace that was like our home base. That's where we kind of had our first big impact. Because we want just focus, we actually used to be like Squarespace, like a consulting company, like an agency, we used to build Squarespace sites, and then do like recurring support for folks. And that was the business model we evolved to before that we actually built custom software for people and e commerce stores. We kind of did everything. And then we just kind of started to focus in that business model of a specific CMS. And providing ongoing support gave us some nice recurring revenue and some stability as like an agency. And we built a lot of sites we built like 400 Squarespace sites. So like we were one of the like, I think we were one of the top in the world in terms of volume. Like we did a lot. Yeah, we had. Yeah, so we had good SEO and all that that helped. Yeah, so when we were building those sites, we heard from a lot of folks or our clients. Hey, Can I add membership functionality to my site? And we were like, no, Squarespace doesn't do that. And it was just like, Okay, that's it. But we kept hearing that over and over again. And then I was like, Alright, I'm just gonna Google search. And there was a couple tools out there that were, in our opinion, pretty low quality, and really badly written, like insecure, and just really bad, like UI, everything was bad about it. So we were like, We know how to make software. Why don't we build something and our clients could like it. So that kind of got us thinking. And then I went to the forums within Squarespace and like, you can search topics but like most voted, and like membership functionality was at the very, very top there was like number three with like, 100,000 views or something like that. It was crazy. And so we're like, holy crap, this is like a big thing that people need. So and we just, I just, I read through all those comments and we just built out an MVP, launched it via the forum and and the our client lists just kind of got a few people going and just built up features from there. And now We're available on webflow, Squarespace, Wix Weebly, WordPress. We're launching on Duda today, I think so yeah, pretty much everywhere and custom HTML.
Ben Tossell 05:11
Awesome. I like to hear from a few folks of like picking up the wish lists from these big platforms that they either can't prioritize, don't prioritize, don't care about or like, there's obviously reasons that companies don't do these things. But funny how, like set similar seemingly small tools, or small functionality for big tool has such a big like a big following or a big leg need. And like an example from I'm thinking on this, Chris from jet boost, who does the multi filters on web flow? So like, that's a big wish list item that he just built. This like plugin that goes straight into web flow really easily. Do you think there's like a danger In people looking at just those types of things to pick off as a small project, you think many, all of them could be bigger. Do you watch? What's your thought process on like, using these wish lists as like a way to find ideas and build something? Yeah, I
Wade - Memberspace 06:19
mean, it's tricky, because on the one hand, you're vulnerable, right? You're, you're an unofficial third party tool on a CMS platform that at any moment could say, You're not allowed to use that third party tool, or we're going to launch our own functionality for that. They don't they don't need to care about how it affects you. Yeah. And so that's, that makes it tricky. Then there's also like the whole you're on official so like, do they truly support it? Do they even market it to this report? Tell people to use it. In our case, we're lucky and Yes, we do. Like CMS is out there do recommend like their support team. Like Squarespace recommends us not officially, but their support people know of us so they tell people and the same happens with CMS says like web flow and WordPress and other things, but if there is a risk to it, I think from a from the website builders perspective, membership functionality is so complicated, like it might sound simple like Oh, just charge 50 bucks a month and you get access to a page. It sounds like it's pretty straightforward. There's so much nuance to it. It's insane. As far as you know, you've a pretty complicated membership website for your your bid for maker pad. So it for a CMS to create those features. You gotta remember, these CMS are generally trying to go to the lowest common denominator, right people that are not developers, not super tech savvy to be able to use this pretty easily without overburdening the support team, right? So to do that, everything has to be pretty simple to use. So membership functionality is inherently complicated. When you think about different pricing methods, multiple payments, one time charge free trials. Is there a tax? Is there a sign up fee? Does the plan expire to drip out access? Should there be a Zapier integration like it gets called Easy without any things this could this could be. So for a CMS to build that is a serious investment of the development time. And then to maintain it is another big investment. And then on top of that, your support team is able to explain it to your customers. So all that all those create this big amount of work, and then you have to compare that to how many people on the CMS are actually going to use it. And for membership, in our world, it seems memberships are so popular. Yeah. But relative to what most website builders customers use, most of them aren't using memberships. My rough estimate based on just my hunch is about 10%, about 10% of webflow about 10% of Squarespace, any website builder, about 10% of people need membership functionality. So if you compare that that amount to how much work that is to build, maintain and support, a lot of them say it's just not worth it. And that's why I think most website builders don't have either don't have any membership functionality or have Sounds like a really, really bad like basic one like like, Weebly and Wix have like a very basic one that no real business is using because it does nothing. So, yeah, I think that's why it's just not the trade off isn't worth it. But as a small company that wants to bolt in this feature, it works because that's all we're focused on. We don't care. We're not building out a website editor. All we're doing is membership. So for us, it makes sense. But you're vulnerable, which is why we are available on all these other website platforms. So if for some reason tomorrow, Squarespace was like you can't use third party membership functionality, which they could do, right? We're hedged because we're on these other platforms now. So I'm not gonna answer the question. I'm kind of rambling a little bit.
Ben Tossell 09:39
No, I think this is a good way to get insight to think in the way that thinking about these things because people always talk about like the platform lock in and all sorts of things and you see stuff over the years of building on Facebook and then getting shut down or you have a Twitter app that then they block the access and then it's just like, Okay, well with that now. Right, yeah, it's difficult. And it's one of those things that you'll never really know of what the big platforms going to do. Or even if they say, yeah, we're not doing it just yet, but eventually in the future, you've got to sort of trust that and then you've got a, I don't know, sort of still think, yeah, we can do this a few times, like for years, and maybe, like you said, hedge your bets and how, how do you internalize that and think about, okay, well, like, do you have a plan for Okay, what if these three website builders today just went, yeah, we're not letting this happen? Or is it just, it's not like the doomsday Doomsday thinking of it and just thinking, well, realistically, we're more optimistic and we think this will be happening for the next however many years and we'll be fine regardless.
Wade - Memberspace 10:50
Yeah, I mean, I used to be, I guess, a little bit more paranoid about that. Especially when we were only on Squarespace because like, if they shut shut down access, like we're dead, so But now there's one other website builders with less concern. And you know, I can't specifically name names, but there are CMS editors like webs, like website builders that we've spoken to, and they are aware of us, they're happy we exist. And if if and when they do launch membership functionality, they plan to coexist with us. And I think the thinking here again, is back to my original argument of why they didn't do memberships in the first place. It's complicated, especially if you want to build out all the nuance features that people want when you say the word membership. So what they're going to generally do is build a very simple v1 that has a basic amount of features, and maybe leave it there maybe never expand on that. And just and this way, they can put a feature checkbox on their website, we offer memberships, but it's like no real businesses using that because it doesn't it's not powerful enough. And that's where we come in like, Okay, if you just need a really basic, really simple membership, good use the website editor. Those are probably our worst customers anyways because they don't really utilize everything you offer. But if you need like a real membership functionality that scales for a growing multi million dollar business like we do, then that's where we come in. And that's why I think those website editors are still going to recommend us because it's like, Hey, we can't do you need feature X, Y, and Z. We don't do that. We might not ever do that. But this third party does sound official, but check them out. And that's, that's how we view it. It's like if you can start really simple and basic, but then you build up more and more and more nuanced features that they would never build. Because if only if 10% of people need memberships in general, even lower percent need drip, access, and even lower percent need expert right expiring plans. So I could building all these little small little features that they think about what's like an 8020 I think that's how they think about what they build for futures, right. And nuanced membership features just don't move the needle. And so they're not they're probably not going to build it in because you have to remember, as someone who like build software and has built software for clients, every feature you add is something you need to maintain for us. Ever. And so there's no free lunch, you can't just build something like up, we're done. It's like you have to maintain that. And then you add new features, they have to play nicely together. So that's it's a challenge. So I think from a website builder perspective, their focus is how do we make it really easy to use Website Builder? memberships is an afterthought. I think it always will be. And I think that's true for lots of other tools. So like, yeah, we're saying, If someone's trying to query the business, by creating some kind of add on to like web flow, let's say, Yeah, I try to go deep. Don't try to go broad pick, like pick a feature, and get get super nuanced within that feature, because it's like web post. Never going to do that because it doesn't move the needle. But you could be like this really awesome thing that does this specific set of features. I like that. That's my two cents on that.
Ben Tossell 13:46
Yeah, I think that makes sense. For sure. And like, just remembering that what small to them is not necessarily small to you, or you and your business and the number of people the types of business Like you said, and yeah, they've got to move their needle. And they've, they've got probably a bigger picture thing they're looking over. And I think you're right in that these big platforms are going to build the most basic version of that feature first and say, yeah, we've got memberships now. But you can't do like you said, all of those things that the member space allows you to do. So yeah, let's talk about some of the, like, some of the customers and some of the use cases of these memberships and how they work and what are some of the talks about some of the basic things of a membership? What are some examples of basic memberships that you've seen built? And then we can go into the more advanced and like the crazier bigger ones?
Wade - Memberspace 14:43
Yeah, I mean, the classic cases, you know, I want to charge $50 a month for access to page A, B, and C on my website. And on page A, B, and C, maybe I have a videos maybe I have some PDFs to download and maybe have like, some images or or like an embedded forum or something like that. So a lot of people who have like video libraries, we have people that build courses, right? So you want to protect various course pages on your site, you design and you're in control of the navigation between the different modules in the course, and we're just protecting all those pages dripping out access to those pages, those those are a pretty popular feature that we have. Yeah, I mean, that those are the most simple ones. We even have like not for profit organizations where it's just like, we just have one page protect on that page is like a PDF download to like, apply for for the not for profit organization membership. Like that's it. It's like the most simple thing. Like when we first started, it was even more basic, like when we very the very first MVP beta that we launched. All we did was you told us the page URLs protect and then people would have to join a plan to get access to the page and they would do Writing a plan meant was you enter your name, email and password. And now you get access. So it's basically like you collect email addresses for access to pages. That's all we did. There was no charging nothing. That's all we did. Yeah, people still like that. That was enough to be useful, which is amazing.
Ben Tossell 16:14
Yeah, I wonder if I'm told, passionate comedy. Like, the time we're in seems like law school will have their own side projects and lots of people have their own things that they want to launch. And I always I've been always bucket, I always seem to sort of bucket and probably butcher it in the process of like, okay, so it sounds like you want to build a marketplace or Okay, you sounds like you want to make a membership site. And I think it depends on the level of curiosity of the user, who can either see past like, okay, yeah, you've got a course but I can build a course with them MySpace. Like, for me, I'm like, Okay, if I can build a course and I know I can build a fitness membership site. I know I can build it. I like protected ebook. I know I can protect, like, I just think of all these things, maybe cuz how my brains wide and I mean, I've been in this for a lot of time, like for some time now so I just think naturally that way. So I wonder if like more and more people are just seeing these types of sites is like how do you how do you convey all those use cases? How do you tell people hello you can have a paid newsletter on here you can have like all of this type of stuff on here because I do see that we talked about your tool being specific memberships for like Squarespace initially and now all these other platforms, but then within memberships that also has like, so many different use cases. So there's like if you focus on one thing, it doesn't necessarily mean you're really focusing on one thing. There's like a ton of things you can do from that. So yeah, when the how I think it looks quite naturally no clue that These tools can do so much different things no matter how, like you're the one in control of changing, altering some of the things and how they work. And, and often it's like, to the surprise of the founders of the tools, the like, I didn't really think about this use case for this tool, but like people using it. Yeah,
Wade - Memberspace 18:22
that's probably the trickiest thing like the positioning of this to like, make it so that people come to our website and are like, yeah, this is I can use this do what I want to do. It's like it's a weird concept to explain like for a no coder, maybe it's more intuitive because like, you know, that those kind of people are more used to like building things and trying things and putting tools together. Like it's more, I think intuitive. For for, let's say regular people, folks who do not just build tools for fun on the weekends, people who like I have a business and have a specific thing I need to use this tool for. those are those are those are like our main people. Those people It's hard to speak to them specifically because like memory space is kind of like a box of Legos. It's kind of like putting together however you want. But then people have to also imagine, oh, yeah, I can put the Legos like this to make what I want. And it's hard to say that on a marketing site without listing 20 different use cases and being weird marketing stuff. So yeah, that's actually the trickiest part. So yeah, I mean, what we try to do is we have case studies, you know that that's one way to do it. Because each case studies its own business model. We try to use examples throughout the site, like, Oh, you can use it for courses, you could use it for a member directory, like we just try to, like throw phrases out there to kind of catch anything. And then, but at the end of the day, as you know, don't really read read anyway, it's gotta go to the site, maybe look at the headline, if you're lucky. Maybe they'll scroll down and read a testimonial if you're lucky, and then they'll click a button. So you don't really have a lot of time to explain it anyway. So we try to use like, you know, add memberships to your website, and then we hope that their imagination thinks, oh, I can use that for what I want to do that It's a work in progress. Oh, it's honestly the trickiest part.
Ben Tossell 20:02
Yeah, definitely. I mean, even even for us that we teach, no good education, which means that whatever your site could do, we could technically do a tutorial on it or show up a course on it a boot camp or whatever. But then just means that we've got 5 million things that we could be building could be doing and trying to show people on our site, the same thing saying, you could do Sales Automation, you could do like a marketplace you do membership site. So yeah, it's difficult and often sometimes even get people come through saying, like, How are you different to where we teach stuff about web flow? It's not like, that's not the same but I mean, in those situations, you never know is on you is on them. Like, at what point you got to think you've got to draw the line somewhere, right?
Wade - Memberspace 20:51
Yeah. Like I said, we weren't we I don't have a good answer for you. Because like, we're still trying to figure that out. Because people if you can't get people to read your website, Which I think is a universal truth. How can you possibly expect them to understand everything about your tool like people are just kind of barreling through the internet clicking on buttons and then just like arriving at the onboarding, and then they get either confused, or they're like, this is exactly what I'm looking for. So it's, it's tricky because like when I explain number space to people, like I do a lot of demos and calls, that almost always it's like, Oh, awesome. This is exactly what I'm looking for. But for some people that I speak to, they like don't even realize they think we're a website builder. They think they think we're webflow or they think you're Squarespace. I'm like, No, no, you you build the site, and then we locked down pages. Yeah, like, oh, okay, that's actually what I want. So I'm like you signed up thinking we were a website builder, and like, it's amazing.
Ben Tossell 21:46
It's a never ending cycle of the customer. Yeah, but what are some of the some of the like, use cases you've seen maybe some what's in the bigger? How far can this go? And guess how big Some of these things these membership sites gotten to when and where they can't Yeah,
Wade - Memberspace 22:05
Ben Tossell 24:13
That's awesome. I didn't realize that you've had people for five years. Yeah. That's awesome. Well, what are the types of what types of memberships those there? Are they like you said courses and things like that?
Wade - Memberspace 24:27
Yeah, one of them is like a real estate marketing website. So like, she'll, she'll sell it's called ladies of real estate. So what they do is, you can like download assets, so like social media templates, or like, PDF backgrounds, like it sounds kind of like weird, but like, that is like a huge thing that's needed apparently in that industry. So like, kinda like graphic graphic design templates of sorts. They just kind of download that are geared the messaging, the font, all that stuff's done for you. And it's specifically to For people that do real estate, and you know, she has thousands and thousands of members and has an enormous business doing that, because it's very niche, it's very specific. And it's good quality that the kind of content let's see another one we have does more of like, you know, intuitive type coaching type stuff. She has an enormous following, like, I think like 500,000 people on Instagram. And yeah, just you know, that, that kind of stuff. It resonates with certain people. The key I think that was like, it's not it, the use case in my mind almost doesn't matter. It's more about like, building up that audience and like delivering something they actually want. Like, sometimes people ask us, oh, does this work for industry x? This is work for industry. Why it's like, it doesn't matter really. It's, it's who you're trying to serve and does a membership make sense for that? Like, I get, you know, to throw back to maker pad, right, like we've talked about this before. You've kind of had different pricing models, right? You did monthly for a little bit annual and then you lifetime you kind of rotate. You've kind of figured out trying to figure out which one makes sense. But for your business, it seems like a lifetime access makes sense, right? And so I still consider that a membership Some people think membership means has to be recurring revenue and I don't think that's at all what it means. Like you Deaf maker pads a membership, it's just not a recurring membership. And that model makes sense for you. But some people sort of try to force the recurring revenue side into what they're doing and we try to let people know you don't need to do it that way. Doesn't always make sense.
Ben Tossell 26:31
Yeah, I think Yeah, a lot of people like hear about Mr. And Sasson. Almost all of that is like mixed into one thing being like okay, you have to have has to be like a access to something whether it's a product or whatever SAS company and you got to have like, monthly recurring revenue is all the same stuff. But yet, there's definitely certain certain different things that different models and things are are Suitable for and then I forgot what I was going to say now.
Wade - Memberspace 27:09
was a regard. Was it related to use cases again?
Ben Tossell 27:12
No. It's completely gone. Good.
Wade - Memberspace 27:21
Do you want to talk? I think well, we could go over cuz there's unless you
Ben Tossell 27:25
had something as well. It was like about the membership stuff, recurring stuff
Wade - Memberspace 27:33
scaling up and that kind of
Ben Tossell 27:34
stuff. Let's just get to scaling account
this it'll come back.
Ben Tossell 27:40
Cool, right? Yeah. And so on the scaling thing this is like one of those hot topics that is will this platform scale with me when I get a million users on this is what I was going to ask actually was, is there like we have people sometimes saying okay, well We've learned now how to build a mobile app, a marketplace, whatever hasn't got a first hundred customers. I'm like, well, that is still like, all of those questions are still the same as before. We're just having to build a thing. And you can sell it on the internet and spend hours and days procrastinating learning about all that stuff. But that's not the thing that we're trying to teach you. Do you have, because you naturally are servicing so many membership sites from zero, up until the bigger the bigger numbers? Is there, like a bunch of people you even do this, where they're saying, hey, how do I how do I? How does membership make sense my business or how do I get 100 members and it like, Is there any anything you do there to help with that?
Wade - Memberspace 28:49
Yeah, I mean, that's like the whole like, education side of this of like, it's kind of business coaching, like, how do you build an audience? How do you make a nice looking website? How do you make the call to ask Clear, how do you make it clear what you're offering in the membership, all that stuff? Maybe to us sounds intuitive, but for a lot of folks, it's like they've never done this before, they don't know. So that's something we have delta wholesale. We have a whole resources section on our website. And we have a different if you're like, just starting, we have a bunch of resources for like how to like start how to start thinking about a membership site, how to find a niche, how to do some research, kind of like I did, when we initially launched members basic we have, we have resources and you know, good blog posts for that type of stuff. But for sure, that's a thing that we could do a better job of. And in the future, I think we will have more of like a educational side, because like, it makes sense, right? If, if I can help you learn how to actually get to 100 paying customers, you're so much more likely not to not to cancel right and to keep using member space. It also will put you on the right track. So like you can start and you'll be on the right trajectory instead of just kind of going in circles, getting frustrated trying to figure out how to actually launch a business. So for a lot of folks, it's really hard. I mean, it just is hard to launch a business period, right, and then make enough money to actually full time do it is like a whole nother level of challenge. And then from there to have enough money to hire support, or to expand it like scaling, it just gets harder and harder and harder. But I think it's interesting that you were saying a lot of people kind of get worried and like, overthink that before they've even launched like, Oh my god, what, how is this gonna do and I have 1000 people and it's like, you're probably it's unlikely to even get to 1000. That's hard. It's harder to thousand people pay you money for something.
Ben Tossell 30:39
Yeah, it's always like, it's not. So it's not like shitting on someone's idea. It's more saying, you got to be realistic and think, well, let's get to 10. Let's get to 10. First, let's get to 100. And I always say with building things, no matter how you build in them, you can always change tools. You can always change things. If something Didn't scale someone was going out of business or something. But yeah, I mean, people are not really gonna think of scaling as a question in their heads.
Wade - Memberspace 31:08
But yeah, I mean, I think that's actually one of the beauties of no code is the flexibility. So like, you know, I always tell people, hey, start, start as simple as you possibly can maybe only offer one plan, you know, it gives access to whatever and like, that's it. Don't make people think Don't even try to figure out all these different tiers and content, because if you haven't launched yet, you might not even know what they want. You might be completely off base about what your tiers are and what people get without even talking to one real person. Yeah, who's paid you any money. So like, I always tell people start simple as possible. And this is where like, no code, you know, legitimately has an advantage over custom made software is the flexibility of Okay, started like this. Now we're going to change the model off or we're going to change tools. And you can do that. It's not a big deal in software. If you have if you have everything built out a certain way to change it. It's not you can't just do it in a day that takes maybe weeks or months of development time, and money. So I think, especially when people are just starting, I think it totally makes sense to start with no code tools and potentially forever. Like, that's, that's what we're what we're trying to do is like, Hey, you don't need ever build a custom software build membership, because I tell people, you're, it's gonna be a lot of work, it's gonna cost you a lot of money. And the maintenance, once you get to that scale is going to be a nightmare. But you're basically have to run memory space, but just for yourself, and like not, it's not going to be fun. So it's better to leverage a quality third party tool, and, you know, no code at all the way up, I think, every day, we're seeing examples of real businesses with no code that can actually be legitimate and not just fun little side projects.
Ben Tossell 32:43
Yeah, and I think we need way more of those examples out there in the wild. Do you have Is there a community aspect of member space where people who run memberships through member space, interact with others or is that not
Wade - Memberspace 33:01
Not to a question. It's something that we're actually funny brought up. We're, that's something we're actually working on right now. So we're gonna plan to launch that pretty soon. Yeah, cuz I think that's an important part, like, just a little quick pro tip for because I literally spoken to like, three to 4000 membership site founders, like on the demos and prospecting calls the same. So I've heard a lot of feedback about like, what works and what doesn't work. And the the, the through line that I've seen for the most successful membership businesses is they always have a strong sense of community. And generally, that also includes an in person element to the community as well, not just online. But if you having a community for your, for your people to talk to help each other to support each other. It's it's so important that I'd say it's almost even more important than the tool right? So whatever you're offering is great. But if you have people in a group who like know each other and support each other, that's why they stick around the tools is almost secondary, then it's Yeah, he For the community, I happen to be using this tool within that community. So that so we're trying to take our own medicine here. And we're going to be definitely launching our own community pretty soon. Because I think it's vital. And it's a way to help people, right? Like, it's I'm sure you've seen a bunch of examples of crazy stuff people built with no code that you would never have imagined they could do. And same thing with members basic. Everyday, I'll see some like crazy membership site built out. I'm like, I even think about using it that way. That's clever. And it's so I want people to be able to share that more than I think that'd be useful.
Ben Tossell 34:33
Yeah, I mean, obviously, I was a product and doing community stuff there and, and after product term, so many people were just like, Can we have you consult on community stuff, community stuff, and I'm like, well, we can. I mean, I'm not telling you anything profound. Because to me, it was obvious of just like, what sort of lead by example and then be an asshole and just like normal stuff in the community. I think is interesting you just brought up was like, now you're just thinking about community and you're thinking of it like, the community is like this, like almost a big benefit. And then tools like secondary once you get, I think that's only once you get to a certain stage. So I think other people try and launch something with a community aspect and say this is my such and such site with this community. And unless there is a community of like busy people, and not just the same three or four people talking over and over, then it gets difficult to ever have get out of that community or like get that community to grow and be welcoming to other people. And yeah, I mean, I see that all the time and people have a big thing of the last few years has just been like a big focus on community is key, and a good a great differentiator or a moat even for your for your business and product. And I don't know whether I just, I'm a bit oblivious because I've been in community stuff for so long. And like my path to building some sort of audience was quite organic. I wasn't like trying to gain anything or like trying to get followers and stuff. So yeah, maybe it was like, You lead with product community comes second, naturally. And then almost, it gets to a point where you've got to think of communities is one of our biggest pros here. We've leveraged this community and in maybe your cases, let's get a community to do meetups and talk about how they build a membership site. So let's do like live Q and A's and all that sort of stuff. So yeah, it's interesting to think about that way.
Wade - Memberspace 36:44
Yeah, I mean, I'm not I'm not sure if I have a good like, you know, black and white rule here of like, product first then community maybe in in our case, it wasn't like we like had this grand plan and like, we're okay, five years in then we're gonna watch a big community thing. It was it was more like, we're just scrambling to build all the features that people needed. Like, you know, if we wanted to be a legit membership thing that could work, when you get to the scale of millions of dollars, it's a business, you need a lot of features, they need to work like at scale. So like that takes a lot of work. So that's what we've just been kind of heads down on, it's just building out what people need. But now that we've have a pretty good feature set, there's still obviously lots of things we can add. But now we think it's time to kind of pump the brakes a little bit. We have a big amount of people a big user base with a lot of people on our email list. It's like let's, let's see if we can help people help each other now. Now we have something built up, it makes it a lot easier to launch community once we have that built operating, as opposed to starting completely from zero. So in our case, I think that path made sense. You could argue we should have in the community earlier, maybe for some businesses, having a community when you first launch actually does make sense. Like depends what you're offering. If you're offering like, you know, let's say in person coaching or If you're offering like, you know, zoom webinars and premium webinars, it's like maybe you want a community right away so that your people can like communicate with each other. You know, it's only 20 people, even if only 18 people, whatever. Like, that might make sense. So everything's context context specific. But for sure, if you're trying to do like a big community, then yeah, I think I think it's good to kind of build up a product and an audience first.
Ben Tossell 38:23
Yeah, no, I think that's definitely right. With the context, I didn't mean every case. Definitely. So we'll probably call me out on it and say around Yeah, obviously contacts with everything and and you see a lot of people like Mitch pad probably wouldn't be where it was today if I hadn't had like an audience of people first, a community of people around that. So I understand that that is definitely definitely there too. But just to sort of wrap up a bit and go off slightly from the community, but still On that we are both linked in that we have both invest in the portfolio of earnest capital. And I've heard you say, like, whether I was eavesdropping when we were in Mexico together or whatever is that you said that you think the mentorship has been like, the number one thing that has made it valuable for you. Like you didn't even need the money. And I think I felt the exact same way. Like I didn't need to take the investment. But just having a group of founders that I can just say luck. I can't figure out this fucking pricing problem. I'm trying to test this thing. Has anyone else done anything the same, and another group of like operators who are essentially like LPs in earnest that jump in and say, well, when we did this, this other company that we sold, this is how we did it. It's been like super valuable for me. I wonder if you've got any just like Thoughts on business model and how that whole mentorship and and a community almost as a as around?
Wade - Memberspace 40:09
Yeah, I mean for us like for me at least I've never built a large software company before like I've I haven't I haven't been here. This is my first time here. So it's like, I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm just kind of making it up and taking my best guess and you know, reading a lot of blog posts listen a lot of podcasts. Yeah. So to have, like a group of mentors and people that have done it before I've done it multiple times, and you just kind of throw ideas at them and get feedback back that is, you know, a high signal to noise ratio. It's invaluable. Like I don't, you can't really put a price on that. And the piece of even the advice aside just the peace of mind knowing that they're there, like just knowing Okay, I got I got a team that's got my back, like that's, to me, that's really nice. It's like the whole The whole world isn't on your shoulders to figure every little thing out. It's like, if some worst case scenario happens, which you're kind of going through right now. There's people that can help you and try to sort through things like we know there's people in earnest. And obviously all over the world that businesses are suffering right now, the COVID stuff. To have a group of people, you can talk to it, how to help problem solve, especially during a worst case scenario is great. And then when things are going well, people to help you with scaling and to make sure you don't mess it up once you've gotten to a certain point, right? Because it's like, you never can just kind of sit back and be like, I'm done. I won the business game like you never stops. So yeah, for me, at least I like having a team that really like for like, a lot of people ask me, oh, should I should I found a company by myself or should I get a co founder? In my opinion, I like to have a co founder say I like to have somebody bounce ideas off of and if you don't have a co founder being something like earnest is great too. If someone to talk to.
Ben Tossell 42:01
Yeah, I mean, I am sort of a founder, but I have a team now. And yeah, it wouldn't be a business without a team. It was it would have just stayed as a side project. And then yeah, what when they you said was like having a team in your corner? That was like, that was my most sought after thing is that okay? I am on my own. And this is a side project right now I need to hardly jump to this next bit. I want people with a vested interest in me, financially and like anything else can actually jump in and help with those things and figure some stuff out. And yeah, the game is never over. I always laugh if I ever say to Tyler or anyone in the slap and just say, Oh, yeah, we're just trying to get to this point. And then we also like reassess and think things through and relax a bit and it's been like six months and that's never happened. Like anything. That's been like, okay, yeah, we got to that point. Now. Like I said, and now we can take a break. So it's definitely Yeah, I mean, I don't know about the the co founder thing, because I've got no experience other than my own right now. But yeah, I think as long as it's not a, okay, I've got to find a co founder to launch something. It's more it's like a natural thing. And obviously, you're right. I've been doing stuff for quite a while, right. So it probably made that a lot easier.
Wade - Memberspace 43:27
Yeah, now because like, there's the downside to co founders. If you pick the wrong one, it's going to be a net negative, right? Yeah, you deal with drama and tension and all this other stuff that you could have avoided by doing it by yourself. So like, for sure the safe move, I guess is by is to do it yourself. And then there's a potential upside and the potential downside to having a co founder, so it's kind of you got to kind of pick your poison.
Ben Tossell 43:49
Yeah, sure. Well, yeah, it's been awesome. Let's chat with you. And yeah, we we obviously are very familiar with each other through earnest and everything else. So it's been good to have Have you on and yeah, we'll wrap it up there. Let us know where we can find you and find MCs.
Wade - Memberspace 44:06
Yeah, so memory spaces number space comm or at number space on Twitter and Facebook and I'm at Ward Sandler on Twitter happy to talk with anyone about pretty much anything related to business memberships, whatever.
Ben Tossell 44:19
Want to help. Awesome. Well, thanks for coming on. All right. Thanks, Ben. Thanks so much for listening. You can find us online at maker pad.co or on Twitter at make that we'd love to hear if you enjoyed this episode, and what we should do next.