091: How to choose the right tools to build your membership – with Jeremy Redleaf

Jeremy Redleaf is the Co-founder at Caveday, a global community of makers that come together to do focused work built with MemberSpace. In this episode, he joins Ward to discuss how to choose the right stack to develop and grow your membership.

✍️ Show Notes

📄 Show Transcript

This transcript is computer generated, please excuse any errors 🙂

Ward Sandler: Welcome, everyone. Today, I’ll be talking to Jeremy Redleaf, the co-founder at Caveday, a global community of makers that come together to do deep-focused work built with MemberSpace. Jeremy, welcome to the Membership Maker podcast. We’re excited to have you here!

Jeremy Redleaf: Thanks for having me. I’m team MemberSpace; I’m here!

Ward Sandler: Awesome. Choosing a platform early on is important for membership and can have a huge impact on your business development, right? So what was your experience with using Cavedays tools, and what do you recommend to our users?

Jeremy Redleaf: Yeah, well, it’s, it’s obviously really challenging cause you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know what you’re going to become and what you’re going to need in a year or two years, but it’s worth asking. It’s worth saying, you know, okay, If we want to do this, you know, what are the impacts of these choices now? So our problem was that we started with a different business, right? So we started CaveDay in New York city. It was an in-person experience. Um, and so that’s all we cared about. We need some tools to help us, you know, help people come to our events, and over time we started doing things online, and then we started to realize, okay, well, not everyone’s in the Eastern time zone, and our scheduling tool doesn’t have time zone support. So, all right. Well, I guess people will just kind of convert it, but then we got more and more people all around the world as our online community grew. And we had a tool that was built for New York. So at the time, we didn’t, you know, we just didn’t know that. Of course, this is a really challenging decision. When we made this, we were not using the MemberSpace platform. And so I think, so I’m really into optionality, right? How can I keep as many options open as possible? How can I pick a tool that, you know, just gives me a ramp? You know, if this happened, can I still do this? If we want to change this well, you know, what will that require? And the path to getting where we need to be.

Ward Sandler: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Were there any specifics in terms of like, either constraints or like use cases that you’re like, you know what, for our business, we thought about X, Y, and Z. And that’s something that, you know, maybe is generally applicable to folks or, you know, just kind of like your methodology around, how did you even consider what your constraints are or what you needed in a tool?

Jeremy Redleaf: So, we operate with the same kind of toolsets as a yoga studio. So people need to book classes, they need to be able to have membership passes, you know, cancellations, that kind of stuff. So that was all really clear, obvious; we needed to find a solution that worked for that. But the problem is that, you know, in this in 2021, there are so many off-the-shelf solutions for, you know, all sorts of different use cases, right? If you want to have a yoga studio, there are 20 options. The challenge, though, is that almost none of them that really, you know, help you grow beyond those first few features that they do really well. So, we just found that none of the solutions out there really had any kind of ramp-up to a future where we needed to have more data around our users if we wanted to host our own different tools. We wanted to start a member forum. None of these things were built in, and nor was it, or a way to kind of fake it. So, we just realized that a lot of these tools just, they do what they do really well, but they don’t think about, you know, uh, what might, what might be needed a few years later. So, that’s this, does that make sense?

Ward Sandler: I like the longevity of like, are these tools or as one using, gonna be able to, I guess, grow with me, right? That’s always a thing we’ve heard before. It’s kind of hard to assess that because you don’t always know exactly how you’re going to grow or what’s going to change in the business. It’s almost impossible to know that kind of thing. So at least picking a tool that you’re aware of, ‘Okay, Other businesses are larger than me. Are you using this? That’s usually a good way to kind of be aware. I think we can grow into this, right? If you’re picking out a tool and it’s like, Hey, tool X, what’s your largest customer? Give me a rough idea this way. You can at least tell, does this work at scale because if they have no one big customer, there’s probably a reason.

Jeremy Redleaf: It’s funny when we were looking at platforms, you know, in the no-code space, Bubble comes up a lot as a possibility. And we looked into, we looked into Bubble, and I look at some of their big use cases that are like, look at, look at what we built. And a lot of been moved off the platform. And so I was like, wait a minute, the ones that you’re saying, look at this thing we did build, but they aren’t staying, so what does that tell you? What does that say about, you know, about what this is for?

Ward Sandler: Exactly. It’s like that it’s tricky to obviously no platform is perfect. Everything’s got flaws. Everything does some things better than others. But you are something that can like, you know, another good question besides who’s your largest customer, because not everyone’s going to answer that, right? Some businesses might be like, you know, we don’t disclose that. But another question might be, what’s the longest customer you’ve had. That way, you can tell it’s like, all right, there’s, you know what, the average length of people staying with you, that kind of thing. So you can kind of get a sense of do people kind of try this and then sharing out three months later, or do people stick with it for the long haul and, and why? Because there’s a lot of options out there. So there must be a good reason why they’re sticking with it.

Jeremy Redleaf: Yeah. And another, this is a super nitty-gritty, but I’m assuming this is a nitty-gritty podcast. Another thing to really consider is this house billing is handled, right? So more and more of the role is handled on Stripe. And, our old platform was on Stripe, but they didn’t use subscriptions on Stripe. They use invoices. So, that’s not something you can take to another platform. You can’t; if you move to MemberSpace, you can’t just sort of seamlessly do that. Just you can still move people, but it’s a little more manual. In this world where Stripe is sort of this layer, that, that can allow you to own your, uh, your interactions with their customers and move from place to place. It’s really important how the platform uses Stripe.

Ward Sandler: For MemberSpace, and people out there considering us we do, create actual subscriptions in Stripe so that your members are not held hostage by our database. If you ever leave your subscriptions and your customers leave with you, but we don’t, we don’t hold onto that data.

Jeremy Redleaf: And, you know, it’s coming up more and more, right? Companies like Substack, which is a circle layer on top of Stripe. Yeah, I don’t know. I see more and more makers and creators wanting to own that relationship. And I think platforms that allow that and still solve a problem are going to be increasingly valuable. better possibilities even there sometimes.

Ward Sandler: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Jeremy, we really appreciate it. Would you like to share any resources or recommendations for folks trying to learn more about Caveday?

Jeremy Redleaf: Yeah, sure. Come, come check us out. We’re at caveday.org. And if you use the code Memberspace, you can get a three sprint cave for free. Come check it out!

Ward Sandler: Awesome. Thanks, Jeremy.