Tribevibe is our firstborn—a digital product made by Ensage. We decided to build something of our own, where we can apply all the principles and processes we stand for: From ethical design and experience for wellbeing to privacy-first, security-driven, and open-source tech infrastructure. Basically, all the bells and whistles.
Oh, we were so seduced by our own skills and processes. We thought we were building an online tool, an app, but…
How many times do we forget that what we are actually building is experiences? Those experiences shape lives.
After long pensive walks from the kitchen to the living room and back (lockdown times), what Zlatko discovered is that this online tool is simply a tool. That‘s it. No tautology intended. This tool is merely supposed to help the community find themselves, to host each other, to spend time together, and to make global friends. In other words, to create offline experiences. And this tool in the form of an app is supposed to help in achieving those means and then… simply move out from its way.
What Zlatko discovered is that we were building a community-driven online platform that creates offline experiences. This revelating insight became a core value of the brand mission and vision, which later on helped in shaping the Tribevibe brand positioning, brand messaging, and all product decisions that followed.
But where is the community in this story? A wise man once said:
Before you build a product, you must first build a community!
Do you hear the echo in those words? That wise man wanted to remain anonymous, but he struck a chord that later on impacted the entire product direction that Tribevibe was heading.
We shifted priorities—people over product, instead of product over people. We needed to make sure we build a community that knows and understand what Tribevibe is and stands for from the very beginning before the members jump aboard once the app goes live. Because if the app goes live without a community, there will be a different type of echo, a soundless one.
So, we set a goal: One thousand true fans before launch. The number didn‘t seem too far-flung, but when there is zero budget for marketing, things start to look unattainable.
Thanks to the global lockdown, we were not in a hurry. Borders were closed, and our future community would barely be able to ensage if we were to give them the app in their hands. (By the way, that's not a typo. We really mean ensage over engage. But let‘s leave that for some other time.)
Speaking of time, it worked in our favour. We could drastically slow down production so that we can focus on ensagement. Ahem… I mean, community building. And 1,000 true fans don‘t equate to 1,000 Instagram or Facebook followers. They come and go. So, the measure for success would be 1,000 email subscribers who regularly read and interact with the email updates we were sending to them.
There is something about email exchange that feels personal. Over time, that develops trust. And trust is what needs to be acquired, for trust is the currency of the brand.
For trust to work, it needs to be both ways. How can Tribevibe tell to the community that it trusts them? What could be a unique feature and a value proposition of a community-driven online platform that speaks the language of trust?
Simple. Let's align the entire product direction in a way to empower the Tribevibers to spread the network. How? Let's rely on an invite system. A risky, but somehow intuitive approach.
This means that once we launch Tribevibe, there will be no way for people to register, but will need to be invited and vouched by an existing member. And existing members are the ones who‘ll register before the official launch.
Such an approach might hamper exponential growth but will undoubtedly maximize the quality of the community. And quality is what we were seeking.
And it‘s the right vibe we were seeking. Not the millions of members for the sake of maximising short-term financial gains. The “vibe” is the secret ingredient for a sustainable long-term success of a community-driven product because a financial success should be the effect, not the goal. If the right vibe is prevalent, any members who don't resonate will naturally lose interest and drop-off, and thus save the community from scammers, stalkers, fakers, and the like.
In a business world that cherishes exponential growth, we took the slow route, a route that empowers the community to set the tempo of the product growth. With that, we wanted to tell them, “We trust you'll invite the right people having the right vibe.”
“Did you find a product-market fit?” Zlatko was faced with this question times and again. “No” was the answer. “I never intended to.”
But then… Who are we building for?
There is a shift in awareness happening in society, which is increasingly drawn to a whole new set of values such as ecology, sustainability, connectedness, mindfulness, quest for meaning, spirituality, self-development, and self-actualisation.
And while those values are strongly emerging in the youngest of generations, our current state of social media platforms work entirely against the signs of time. They capture our attention, trying to reach the bottom of our brain stems, squeezing all our dopamine levels for the sake of maximizing their ad-targeting algorithms by selling our data.
With Tribevibe we want to sail where the wind blows, not against it. With our online platform, we want to support our dashing young braves to create meaningful offline connections and nurture those values by creating global friendships.
Because we believe a time has come where the world will not be divided by cultures, ages, and beliefs. We want to see our generation create friends and hold hands with those who wish to be part of a community based on constructive altruism.
Product-wise and business-wise, the key strength of Tribevibe is that of its agility to embrace ethical approach as a disruptive factor and a competitive advantage. This is something that the signs of time require. But this is also something that the behemoths are incapable of adapting to because their core—their business model—is unethical. And herein lies Tribevibe‘s core advantage.