Community-as-a-Service Concept: How You Can Monetize Access by@lijin

Community-as-a-Service Concept: How You Can Monetize Access

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Li Jin

I am a founder and Managing Partner at Atelier, an early-stage VC firm.

As consumers desire greater control over how they spend their attention, an emerging biz model will be paying for ongoing access to *people*–or what I’ll call “Community-as-a-Service.”

There’s now lots of subscription services for high-quality premium content (Substack for newsletters; Knowable & Luminary for audio, etc). But for creators who lack the ability to sell something tangible, Community-as-a-Service enables monetizing *time* and *access*.

Examples of Communities-as-a-Service:

  • Tools like InviteRobot & LaunchPass enable paid Slack groups
  • Knowledge Planet in China allows KOLs to create paid groups & interact w/ subscribers
  • Video games: people pay for status & attention in communities like Twitch, Fortnite, etc

The Community-as-a-Service model can combine paid subscriptions for
access to the community itself, and tipping to express support/appreciation (including admins tipping community members for
valuable contributions!).

Not every community can successfully charge for access. The paid model works best when there’s high intentionality (the community is a destination), desire for recognition within the community, peer-to-peer
affinity & interactions, and potential for ongoing exchange of value.

For fans, the value prop is meaningful conversations and connection with each other and deeper engagement w/ someone they have affinity for. For creators, the benefit is being able to earn money and engage with
fans, without having to produce something.

Deeper trends driving this:

  • Creators have amassed audiences but lack ways to monetize it in a value-aligned way (not ads)
  • Desire for creators to own user relationships directly
  • Move towards curated micro-communities
  • Value of experience over things

Originally published as “Community-as-a-Service, or how to monetize access"

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