Docoh
Loading...

Fri. 14 Jan 2022, 4:11pm ETBenzinga
In: Exclusives, Interview

Before the coronavirus pandemic, community-based products, wherein the community is the product or the community enhances the product, were not as hot of a topic.

That’s according to Canada native Greg Isenberg, who, for nearly 10 years before the onset of the pandemic, was building companies, products and content around community-based products and services.

“When the pandemic hit, and all of the sudden you were stuck at home, the importance of community went mainstream,” he told Benzinga. 

At its core, community-based products are most often seen as complements.

For instance, Peloton Interactive Inc (NASDAQ:PTON) has built a community around exercise equipment. This fosters better engagement around fitness.

Moreover, the pandemic brought a regime change, so to speak.

“The people’s perception of what matters has changed and ideas started spreading further.”

Read on for more about where community-based products and internet communities, as well as technology, are headed post-pandemic.

About: Few can say they are working their dream job.

One of them is Isenberg, who is the co-founder and -CEO of Late Checkout, a product studio, fund and agency that designs, creates and acquires web3 and community-based technology businesses.

“We’re basically building the Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) of community-based products.”

Late Checkout is comprised of three business units.

One is a studio that incubates community-based products.

Another is a fund that invests in and acquires community-based products.

The remaining unit is an agency that helps the largest brands in the world transition their businesses toward community-based products.

Isenberg got involved in the space after finding the internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“It was just this really great way to connect with people around my interests.”

He began building community-based products and niche social networks around his passions.

Later on, he studied computer science at McGill University, where gained the technical foundation to participate in bigger projects.

“I’ve started and sold multiple companies,” he said in reference to selling to StumbleUpon, among other big companies like WeWork Inc (NYSE:WE).

“The great equalizer is the internet. You can be anywhere and you can be anyone, and you can have these conversations.”

Serving Curiosity: Pursuant to the late Virgil Abloh’s frequented saying “Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,” what’s most important in building great products is curiosity and passion.

The other requisite for building great products often is mentorship, Isenberg said.

“There are two types of mentors. You have your foundational mentors that don’t change, and sherpa that may change” as time goes by.

Isenberg takes on the role of both, in some respects, preaching to his community of nearly 250,000 Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) followers and newsletter subscribers on emerging ecosystems and technologies like web3, as well as community-based products.

Core Focus: Isenberg is dead set on pushing patience and focus for himself and his followers. 

“A lot of people focus on a lot of things at the same time. I think, though, it’s important to … work with the coolest brands in the world,” he said on his commitment to launching the best three to four companies per year. “That means saying no to 99% of people that reach out.”

Web3, NFT Future: Web1 allowed for the ability to read. Web2 allowed for the ability to read and write. Web3 allows for the ability to read, write and own.

Simply put, web3 is the next iteration of the internet that will be comprised of decentralized protocols and tokens.

Why does that matter?

Well, with the rise of non-fungible tokens and decentralized ecosystems in finance, and beyond, people were exposed to a future wherein they could have more of a say over their personal information, finances, and rights, in general, on the internet.

It’s basically where the world is going, according to Isenberg.

“I started a podcast with my friend Sahil Bloom a few months ago and we just dropped our episode with Gary Vaynerchuk,” he said. “I asked him if there is a world where NFTs fail.”

“His answer was no.”

This doesn’t mean that the Bored Ape Yacht Club or CryptoPunks won’t come and go. It means that the concept of decentralization, or collectibles as memberships to communities, will remain.

Isenberg drew on an anecdote to support this thesis.

“I was at Soho Beach House in Miami and they charge for membership thousands a year,” he explained. “You get a card that gives you access to a space. You would never say Soho Beach House is just a piece of plastic. You understand the physical nature of it.

“The same concept is being applied, digitally.”

Growing Brands: “It’s a mix of the fertility of the spaces and doing good work.”

Warren Buffett acquired Berkshire Hathaway in 1965. It took time for that venture to turn into a well-known behemoth.

That’s what Isenberg says will be the case with web3 and communities around emerging internet-based ecosystems.

“I’m more interested in the next six years,” Isenberg said. “We have this path that we want to get to and we have this thesis. We’re a thesis-driven holding company.”

Pushing the envelope, especially when it comes to community-based products and web3, is about doing more; it’s about taking the chance, putting out new products, and building engagement around those offerings.

For Late Checkout, “on the incubator side, we’re spinning out companies and building great communities around it. On the agency side, it’s becoming known as a web3 and web-based community agency. And, on the investment side, it’s acquiring and investing in companies that really matter.”