Workbar’s Technology Path
By: Bill Jacobson
I consider it my primary job to understand what drives our members in both their professional and personal lives. At Workbar, we made the strategic decision to thoroughly learn about our community before we built any technology that we knew would eventually be required for us to scale.
Spending many years in previous companies as a technology founder, I learned the value of good technology platform to a community like Workbar. But I also learned that technology doesn’t work unless you know in advance its intended purpose. At Workbar, the first step was gaining a deep understanding of the needs of our community and the needs of our organization to service that community — an understanding gained only through daily, personal engagement with our members.
Workbar is built around face-to-face relationships between our members and between our team and our members. As we began to grow, we determined technology should make our members’ experience as simple as possible and augment these face-to-face relationships.
In the early days, Workbar relied solely on our Space & Community Managers to cultivate and facilitate community with the help of off-the-shelf tools like Google Groups, Excel and Freshbooks. This was a time-intensive and unscalable process, but the lessons were invaluable. We learned how our members like to meet each other, how they want to learn, how they like to balance work and life, and how they communicate with one another and us. We knew this level of engagement was unscalable, but we knew we’d learn exactly what our technology layer needed to be in order to support our community.
When it was time to scale, we built Wobbe, our all-in-one community portal which permits us to sustain our community focus, but in a scalable way.
Please join me at the GCUC conference to hear about Workbar’s technology arc starting with management by spreadsheets and off the shelf tools to our current in-house development team. I’ll talk about our mistakes, our wins and when and why to make various technology decisions as you grow.