Climate Salad is thrilled to welcome its founding advisor as an entrepreneurial rockstar and expert in growing communities, Mandi Gunsberger. Mandi was the Founder & CEO of Babyology from 2007-2017. Babyology is the number one media company for Australian parents. The business was acquired in 2017 and at the time had a Facebook following of over 1.2 million and 1 million visitors to the website each month with a staff of 25 people.
We sat down with Mandi to pick her brain on what makes a successful community thrive and what excites her about climate tech.
Mandi you’ve built a media empire with Babyology, what’s the special sauce in creating a thriving and engaged community?
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the content we are posting on various platforms, and not focus on the relationships we are building around our content. Communities form around a common meaning. The best way to begin creating a community online is to share and lead with what you are passionate about. This will attract others with the same interests and passions, and create a personality around a certain topic that people can connect with.I’ve always gone with the ‘less is more’ theory to build an engaged community. Having less people, but having more interesting, valuable and personal conversations is what creates deeper relationships and keeps the community engaged.
Build a safe space where people can share wins but also loses. It’s the sharing of content that’s not always positive that creates stronger bonds within the community. It also allows others to suggest ways to improve and learn from mistakes.
The best way to create a community online is to share your story, and lead with what you are passionate about! This will attract individuals with the same interests and passions. Make sure your content is relatable allows your community to feel comfortable engaging with your posts and sharing their journeys and experiences with supportive, non-judgemental like-minded individuals.
One final tip when it comes to building a community online is to listen to your audience! They will guide you and help you determine what content they are most passionate about. Social Media is a place for conversation, so make sure your communication with your followers is a two-way street. Give them the opportunity to share with you what they want to see more of!
What didn’t work so well? What traps and pitfalls can we learn from?
So many learnings throughout my journey and some of the big ones are: Lack of adequate resourcing can be a huge problem and in the early days I did not have enough staff to effectively build community engagement. We were posting and ghosting, not responding to comments and questions. There are lots of tools to help with online engagement now such as Engagement Hub and Sprout Social.
You need to be flexible and be able to pivot your community’s needs as they arise. This was a constant struggle for myself and the team to stay on top of what the community wanted, and allowing enough flexibility to respond proactively and reactively to needs of the community and the direction of the feedback. Having rules and guidelines around any community is very important. Community members can become disillusioned if they see their input on specific issues are not being considered. If the community believes that no one is engaging with their comments and feedback, they are likely to not reengage again. Managing expectations of how much input the community has in decisions when asked for input is vital.
What are you up to these days, apart from being our Founding Advisor?
I moved over to Tuscany with my family for a year after my business acquisition in 2018 and arrived back in February 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Since then I have been consulting and doing advisory work with Founders for various companies mainly in the Climate Tech space, as well as sitting on a few NFP boards.
You’ve recently been appointed Climate Salad’s Founding Advisor. What excites you about Climate Tech?
Over the next few years, we’ll see a huge boom in climate tech startups, and startups that build the effects of climate change directly into their business plans. Climate change is already impacting all of our lives, around the globe (more extreme weather patterns, wildfires, rising sea levels etc). The need to stop or reverse the growing amounts of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, paired with coping with the effects of climate change that are already here, together create huge opportunities for entrepreneurs to build companies around.
What I love about the Climate Tech industry is the business opportunities that climate action is creating are worldwide and across so many industries. It’s a very exciting time to be working in Climate Tech and with the Climate Salad family to help companies build products and solve climate challenges by connecting them with customers, talent and investors.
What are the key pillars in building a community?
- Define the purpose and goal
- Select a community platform
- Build a member profile
- Develop rules and guidelines
- Set up your community
- Identify key stakeholders for the community
- Promote your community
As a successful entrepreneur and mum - what’s your advice for not just finding the balance but doing extremely well in your work? What’s the secret?
Well, I don’t know if I have ever struck the perfect balance of building a business while raising kids, but I have always tried and sometimes succeeded. As any entrepreneur knows, it’s all-consuming, there are not enough hours in the day and you can literally work 24/7 and feel like there is still more to do.As stated above, sharing is a key part of learning from mistakes. So I’ll share with you what I refer to as the ‘2013 nervous breakdown’ when my kids were 1, 6 & 7 years old, I had 20 staff, a growing business and was doing a lot of travel.
For me reaching out for help was vital to balancing this load for the next few years. As someone who had always wanted to do all the home chores, activities with kids and build the business, this was not possible right now. I managed to find a phenomenal housekeeper (not nanny or babysitter) and she came in 5 mornings a week to help with breakfast and lunches, get the kids out the door, have dinner prepared and leave the house spotless. This changed my life!
I think as working mums, we often don't reach out for help when needed and I can’t express how important this is at times, as it's impossible to do it all! It takes a village and you just need to find your tribe.
What excites you about the future?
Wow, so much it's hard to name just a few things….In the climate tech space lab-grown food, electric planes, green cement, low-methane cows, hydrogen ships, and cleaner self-driving cars. Then there are smartphone developments, virtual reality, drones and travel to space.