Everything we learned about the AWS community with Courtney Gras

Learnings from the AMA with Courtney Gras, Startup Community Lead at AWS
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November 28, 2022

Threado Community AMA series is exclusively built for the tight-knit slack community we are building at Threado. We gathered and brought together community leaders from Notion, Mixpanel On Deck, Glide, Startup Grind, and many more fast-growing startups.

For this episode, we had Courtney Gras, Startup Community Lead at AWS joining us to answer all questions in the community. The session was filled with many amazing insights on community building. Here are the top highlights from the session 👇

Q: How do you link outcomes of the community and tie them to members goals? i.e. Measuring how the community is helping members hit their goals? What are some, of the metrics you measure around this?

A: AWS community is based on a peer system community devised by David Spinks.  The primary thing they measure in is number of engagements with community members, from slack and also attendance from in person events. They also look at CSAT (one to five star ratings).
Another metric they measure by is attending rates vs. RSVP rates and if they’re dipping or increasing and also adoption rate of AWS.

Q: How do you leverage community events to engage and add value to startup CTP community at AWS! What other initiatives have worked well to drive engagement?

A: On doing initial interviews with 20 founders, Courtney found that they wanted a mix of various events. They wanted technical events, mentorship events and leadership events. Many CTOs aren’t familiar within hiring or management practices so they try to provide those webinars a lot. Since CTOs are usually extremely busy, they have found two events per month is the perfect amount of events they could attend.
AWS community is currently hoping to hold their engagement rate at 40% and increase it next year as it is still new this year. They use a mix of slack and Threado analytics and event attendance rates to measure their engagement rates.

Q: How have community members come together for extending support? What North Star metric do you use to drive and decide events and engagement in the community? What is the one mistake you did while building AWS that others could possibly learn from?

A: One of the ways in which community has really come to get recently for AWS was their community event where CTOs would pitch their companies or products for 60 seconds, and you could attend even if you weren’t pitching and this lay the way for multiple mentorship’s or for people to just help each other.
Right now since it is still new they are hoping to just keep up current rate of engagement and in coming years to increase the engagement and the kpi. Courtney thinks looking at individual engagement, member has been active for x months or x years would be a really interesting metric to measure.
One thing she regrets is not being more tool strapped, and not petitioning for more of a budget in the starting while starting the community.

Q: How has building a comm of developers been different from any other persona? Any interesting stories? Where does the comment come into discussion when the dev and product teams are planning their roadmaps and plans for quarter/year?

A: Maybe this is universal to all CTO startups, but they are very overwhelmed on a day to day basis and they’re extremely busy and every single one agrees that they did not want more than two events per month. Another point of interest is that instead of day to day notifications, they prefer monthly email newsletters as they might be in multiple channels and platforms and so many notifications would overwhelm them. So they are mostly hands off with the communication, as the CTOs come in when they have questions about something technical or some hiring or something other they need help with. The community usually comes into play at various intervals of the process as various founders are at various stages in their processes.

Q: Do various ‘seasons’ affect engagement in the community? Goals or trends in terms of their objectives? How do you complement the community programming or discussions around their objective if so?

A: Since AWS is based globally, there are various trends that the members follow, but, they do notice that the community tends to slow down around the holidays, so they do more asynchronous content around the holidays. They don’t want to overboard them this time of the year but they do want to make sure that they have a full calendar of events for the first quarter. They want to make sure the community members feel like they’re starting off the year with a bang.

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