Support Driven got its start as a podcast about 3 years ago. I had met several amazing folks at UserConf SF 2013 and thought the podcast would be a fantastic way to pick their brains and share what I learned from them. I really enjoyed the interviews I got to do through the podcast, but I rarely heard from anyone that listened to it.
So 2 years ago, I started the Support Driven Slack as a place for people to talk about support. It started off slowly, with a handful of people that had been guests on the podcast and a few folks from Twitter. The first few weeks were mainly conversations between Josef, who was in the UK at the time, and myself. How’s it going? What did you think of that post on so and so’s blog? That sort of thing. And it was easy to find time to join the conversations as we didn’t have many of them.
The community has only grown by word of mouth. So it started off really slow but eventually people started telling other people about it and we reached 100 people after 7 months. It would take another 6 months to reach 200 people.
At this point, the amount of time I was putting into the community was reaching serious hobby levels. The conversations had really picked up and we were hitting 3,500 – 4,000 messages a week in the Slack. It took a fair amount of time to keep up with all the conversations, but I enjoyed them and met some amazing people because of them. We were trying a couple of different ideas like online AMA’s, a #drafts channel to encourage and support people to write more, a newsletter to highlight conversations from the week, and a bunch of other ideas.
That was a year ago and so much has changed. Mostly in exciting and unpredictable ways.
We’ve grown to over 800 people and the conversations have continued to be high quality, fun, and informative. We partnered with Help Scout to create a valuable resource around our compensation survey. This sets an example of how we can work with companies in the support ecosystem and I’m hopeful we’ll create more partnerships to create resources for the community in the future. We held the very first SupConf last week in Automattic’s space in San Francisco. This marks the first time so many folks in the community worked together towards one goal. Fortunately, circumstances worked out so I could put a serious amount of time into supporting all of these efforts.
All of these things would have been pie in the sky just a year ago. Given how far we’ve come, I’m excited to think about where we could go in the next year.
We’ve just started local channels as an experiment in building and supporting city based communities. The first San Francisco breakfast is happening next week thanks to people connecting through the SF channel. We’ll be starting a beta of mastermind groups for support soon as a way to help each other with our career goals and challenges. And I’m talking to a few companies in our community about partnering on creating resources for the community similar to what we’ve done with Help Scout.
There are so many opportunities and ideas for what Support Driven could be and what Support Driven could do than ever before.
Everything we do in Support Driven is an experiment. There’s so much to learn from the successes and failures of the experiments as we figure out what it takes to build a modern online community. It also takes time to set up, run, and learn from those experiments.
I’d like to put more time into Support Driven to see where we can go as a community. I’d like to explore the possibility of organizing Support Driven as a job, either full-time or part-time. But the reality is it’s not a choice I can make alone.
Without you, there would be no community. There would be no Support Driven. This works because we work together. It’s only a decision I can make with your support. So what do you think? Do you want to see where we could go next if I put more time into Support Driven?
I don’t know exactly what it means if we go down this road or what would be different, I’ve only started considering it myself. I hope we can get some conversations started around it and come up with some experiments we could try, because that’s how we do things in Support Driven.