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10 lessons about community building from 7 months of running Kiwi

We've been building Kiwi News for 7 months now and have created a vibrant community of almost 1,300 monthly readers and 200 curators.

The community is very diverse - from protocol researchers and hardcore developers through a16z-backed crypto founders, top Dune analysts, award-winning artists, influential crypto podcasters & bloggers, Nouns owners up to investors from Tier-1 VC funds.

As it’s been some time since we started building it, I thought it was a good moment to look back and reflect on how we made it happen. 

So here are 10 steps we took to make the Kiwi community what it is today.

1. We started in a place where we already had friends.

I’ve been on Farcaster since July 2022, and Tim has been there since the end of 2022. Most of the time, we just hung out online and had fun.

When Kiwi was launched in April 2023, Tim was already a well-known guy. So when he posted an NFT based on the kiwi meme, many people minted the genesis NFT just to support him.

When the app went live, it helped to get some initial users. I joined early, and since we were Farcaster power users, it was easier to spread the word about the project.

Farcaster was a good place to start because many FC users are web3 founders, devs & operators. The audience-product fit was pretty strong, which is how we got our initial users. 

Lessons learned: It’s good to hang out with your potential users before you build the product.

2. We created a new way for users to express themselves.

The primary Proof-of-Work on Farcaster is casting. In other words, sharing your thoughts is often accompanied by a picture, video, or a link.

Theoretically, you could post links on Farcaster without any comments from your side. But if you did it all the time, your profile would look like some bot and feel out of place because social media (even decentralized one like FC) is a place to socialize (duh).

Farcaster & Kiwi feeds are different. Farcaster is like a Swiss army knife where you have all types of content, whereas Kiwi is a laser-focused, specialized tool with crypto links only.

Kiwi’s primary Proof-of-Work is sharing links. Our product filled a small niche for people wanting a zen-like experience of reading, sharing, and curating interesting content.

Lessons learned: You must give users something they can’t get on other platforms.

3. Community solved real users’ problems and has co-created our product.

Most people today feel overloaded by information, especially in crypto. Neverending FOMO makes us subscribe to 27 newsletters and scroll Twitter for 2 hours a day to stay on top of things. 

With Kiwi, we solved part of this problem by giving people a curated list of things to read, watch, or listen to.

In the early days, we had too few users to have a proper feed, so we started with 3 daily links picked by one prominent Farcaster user. People liked it because they could learn what other Farcaster users find interesting.

The beginnings were humble

When we reached a sufficient scale, we leaned into a feed that users could curate together. And this is when the magic happened - from this point forward, the quality of our community had a direct influence on the quality of our product.

It worked in 3 ways.

1) The number of curators directly impacts the feed quality. 

If we had 2 people submitting links to Kiwi, and each of them read 10 articles a day, our entire community aggregated the best content from 20 sources.

If we have 20 people submitting links to Kiwi, and each of them reads 10 articles a day, we aggregate content from 200 sources!

It’s something a single person couldn’t do by themselves. The community reading so many things and picking the best of them really makes a difference. 

2) A more diverse community means more diverse content.

It’s useful to have a diverse community because people share different links.

Some will share privacy-first technical products, others will focus on essays about public goods, and some will submit links to interesting dashboards.

I would have never come across many of these things if it wasn’t for our community. This diversity can be a feature and a bug, though - more on that in point #4.

3) High-quality, diverse community means the discussions are valuable.

We also started discussions on our Kiwipass holders’ Telegram channel. So, instead of sitting alone at home and reading articles, we got this “online book club” focused on crypto-related essays, news & podcasts.

And since we have a diverse community, there’s almost always someone specialized in the subject we are discussing, so these conversations can be really valuable.

Lessons learned: If your product integrates the community, it’s much easier to get new people on board.

4. We were very deliberate about the niche we were after

Kiwi is a community-curated site. So, theoretically, whatever the community posts & upvotes populate the feed.

It creates a seemingly innocent problem because some subjects are more popular than others.

If everyone posted cute cat videos, they’d inevitably get many upvotes and dominate the feed. When other users see a feed full of cat videos, they would post even more cat videos, generating a self-perpetuating circle. 

And although cute cat videos are nice, we were focused on crypto. 

So, we developed the content guidelines. The first guidelines were very rough. They also generated some tension because our community raised a fair question - “Shouldn’t the community decide what kind of content we want to see on the website?”.

We knew, though, that we wanted to keep the site focused and retain a high-quality bar. So we discussed our ideas with the community and thanks to Alex Palmer, we came up with new, polished guidelines.

The decision to keep the crypto focus also meant that some people stopped being active. It was sad, but it had to happen since we wanted to focus on this particular niche.

It’s easier to be great if you’re focused on one thing. (picture by visualizevalue)

Lessons learned: Be very deliberate about a niche you want to occupy and consider saying “No” if people want to expand it too much.

PS: On our roadmap, there are “subreddits” that would be focused on one subject. So, we predict some of these users might return. If your community would like to have its own "subreddit" on Kiwi, let me know. We might do some partnership here.

5. We gave our community a shared activity & goal

Many communities are about talking, but doing something together is much more valuable.

So Kiwi wasn’t just an outsized group chat - our community members worked together hand in hand to achieve a goal. And the goal has been to create a top-quality feed of crypto news, which is now read by 1,300+ people every month. 

We also gamified the whole experience by adding a leaderboard. Some users even said that getting “kiwi karma” was what made them search for new links every day.

We made the links to socials easily available so everyone e can reach out to people they find interesting.

Another big shared activity is discussing the links. At this point, the conversations take place in our Kiwipass holders' Telegram channel, but later on, we plan to move them via comments inside the app.

Lessons learned: Give your community a shared activity to strengthen the bonds.

6. We highlighted social connections, online and offline.

Doing something together is great, but social connections are even more important.

There are 180+ Kiwi holders on our Telegram channel. Tim and I have talked 1:1 with almost all of them, reaching out, learning what they are looking for at Kiwi, do they have any feedback, and so on.

We also made it easy to connect with them - both via our TG channel and our community page. Thanks to that, Kiwi became a space where you meet new, interesting, like-minded people.

Because it’s about other people, not about us.

And although online is a great way to find interesting people, it’s not the best tool to build deep relationships. So, that’s why we organize a lot of offline events. 

Kiwi is only about 7 months old, but we have already organized meetups during ETH conferences in Paris, Berlin, Warsaw & Istanbul.

Picture from our last meetup at DevConnect Istanbul.

Lessons learned: Help to build connections between people inside your community.

7. We shared memes to build a narrative.

For the first few weeks, I shared a new kiwi-related meme almost every day. Some of them were even created by the community members.

We used the kiwi emoji a lot - in our profile descriptions, posts, and replies. Thanks to that, we strengthened the Kiwi meme. We also did a drop during Base Onchain Summer, promoting the “How to eat kiwi” meme.

Lessons learned: Take care of the community’s memes since they are a low-effort way to bond.

8. We support bottom-up initiatives.

Our community members come up with many ideas. 

The first time this happened with freeatnet building his own client and running a Kiwi Node. Later Matallo built Kiwi Search

There also have been smaller projects - Alex Palmer helped us with design, Brais with kiwi stickers at ETH Barcelona, frota with our DevConnect meetup’s POAP and rvolz with the Dune dashboard.

We try to support them and don’t intervene too much so that people can realize their ideas on top of Kiwi.

We also shared some of our revenue with the most active community members. First by handpicking winners ourselves, and then by hosting a proper Retro PGF round where community members voted using their karma.

Lessons learned: Invest in your community early on and give people creative freedom.

9. We recognize great submissions.

What makes Kiwi different from most token-gated communities is that we are half-open.

Community interactions aren’t hidden behind the closed Telegram or Discord doors. Everyone can just open and read links picked by our curators. 

It means that the external world sees the work done by our community, and we double down on that. So when a curator shares a great link, we don’t only praise them on our Telegram channel. The most popular links of the week are being shared via the Kiwi Weekly newsletter

We also set up bots on Farcaster & Twitter that reshare the 6 most popular links a day, and we give submitters credit by naming them in the tweets and casts.

And it’s not only a digital high five. By praising users for posting good content, we also show what type of content we aim for. That strengthens our culture and makes everyone more aligned with the main goal - sharing top crypto content.

Lessons learned: Praise the community members for doing great work.

10. We were lucky to have community members who praised us publicly.

This is not something we (Tim & I) did, but this is what our community has done for us without any prompts. The fact that people themselves say that Kiwi is great is much more valuable than us promoting our product.

Lessons learned: Word of mouth is much more effective than marketing by the founders.


And this is it.

Probably everyone knows this old storytelling cliche: “Maybe the real treasure was the friends we made along the way.” In crypto, it’s typically said with tongue in cheek when you get liquidated during the bear market. But it also holds a certain truth.

A big part of building a web3 product isn’t just writing and shipping code. It’s about creating a space where people can meet and do things together. If you do it right, the community might not only help you build the product but even become its most important element.

And I believe this is the right way to build in web3.

PS: If you’d like to join the Kiwi community, it’s open to anyone. You can join us by minting the Kiwipass NFT. We can’t wait to introduce you to the rest of us!

PS2: If you’d like to set up a Kiwi board so your existing community can curate interesting links and bond like the Kiwi community did, contact me on Telegram. We are already in talks with some DAOs and might work something out.

Thanks to Tim Daub for feedback on this essay and to the Kiwi community for being such an amazing group of people.

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