Lyvly: A community for collaborators, not consumers
A concept that we discuss a lot amongst the team at Lyvly HQ is Coachella vs Burning Man, not an original comparison, it was inspired by Fabian Pfortmüller, and feels very apt for the type of community we are trying to build. It’s the idea of consumers vs co-creators. With festivals like Coachella, its attendees are very much customers; they turn up and everything is organised for them to optimise their enjoyment and they have little input to influence their experience. Everything is brilliantly put on by the organisers, but the power rests with them.
We aspire to be more Burning Man. For those unaware of it, Burning Man happens every year in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. A temporary city is built, no acts or entertainment booked and there is no corporate sponsorship. Everything that happens there is created by the people who attend.
The event organisers stress it is a community and definitely NOT a festival. Their ethos is “Everyone is a participant. There are no spectators.” Its CEO Marian Goodell is very clear that Burning Man is more than a festival and her vision of why it’s so special is unique to the event.
“The invitation to participate is more than an invitation to have an amazing experience. It’s about CREATING that experience for yourself and those around you.”
The 60,000 people who go to a sandbox 100 miles from civilisation have ownership of their time in the desert. The whole idea of a community is a collective identity forged through shared experiences. If you’ve been largely responsible for creating that identity and those experiences, the bonds can only be stronger and longer lasting.
Lego, on the surface, seems an unlikely comparison to thousands of dusty people getting drunk wearing sparkly onesies, but there are similarities. Lego Ideas was created to help block building enthusiasts contribute their own concepts for new sets, and if 10,000 people vote for the design, it will become a new Lego set, with 1% of sales revenue going to the designer. They also get final approval for the product and are included in all packaging and marketing. The concept of co-creation here shows how collaboration with an engaged community can encourage incredible brand loyalty and creativity.
A similar approach can be seen in how Monzo has built itself as a digital bank. From when they launched in 2015, its customers would be invited to come to the office to pick their cards up and tell them what they wanted from their bank. Its founders have always recognised the importance of listening to the people for whom they are providing a service.
“When we work together with our community, we make better products. Creating a feedback loop between product developers and our user community ensures that we’re building things people actually want.”
At Lyvly we want participants, not consumers to join our community. Our shared living community shouldn’t be like a traditional renter/landlord relationship. Traditional tenants are very much customers and feel little connection to a wider community or the people providing them with a home.
We are trying to ‘decentralise’ as much as possible within Lyvly. The membership committee is our most trusted advisor. Feedback from members can really influence our policies. Recently, a member leaving the community questioned our process and it directly led to us no longer charging for end of tenancy cleaning. This is one example and not all feedback will lead to such swift action, but it shows the trust we place in the people we are building the community alongside.
In order for our members to want to be collaborators, we need to build a level of trust and transparency to forge a feeling of belonging to Lyvly. A community’s direction isn’t governed by a few people at the top, its members should feel empowered to create their own stories.