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Why Nextdoor failed miserably.

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After reading about Nextdoor's fundraise, I signed up for their service.  They had a cute little app that helped you define what your neighborhood is. They restrict it to 50+ houses.   They also asked the reason you were defining the neighborhood, so I put coyote warnings, fire warnings, crime sharing, etc.   They sent me a few emails saying I needed to send out postcards to all my neighbors to join the service which I thought was a little obnoxious.   What happened next was truly unreal. 

Any startup that insults and badgers their customers will fail in a big way.  They decided their service was so valuable that they didn't need me.  The subsequently threatened to and followed through to cancelling my account within 8 days.  That's not even enough to find value in the site, much less find a reason to obnoxiously invite your neighbors to sign up.  

Two months later we find a beautiful lab running around the neighborhood.  My first thought was, shouldn't there be a friendly service that lets you post this sort of information?  Isn't that what Nextdoor was trying to do?  My wife and her sister went to Facebook.  The owners went to Facebook.  They both posted to city local news and voila.  Happy endings.   

My prediction for Nextdoor?  Not so happy an ending.  What a waste of time and money.  

I'm missing something. What happened in between you volunteering and them deciding to cancel you?

Just them requesting you send postcards to every neighbor?

Or was there something else?

I mean, was any reason given for the cancellation?

I'm guessing I didn't fit in with how they want people to use their website because I didn't actively sign-up more new members.

Hi Greg, Thanks for being part of the pilot website for Nextdoor Yorba Linda Eastside Park. As of today, there are 1 verified member on Nextdoor Yorba Linda Eastside Park. Your neighborhood has 3 days to sign-up 9 more verified members to make your Nextdoor website permanent. Remember, it takes a minimum of 10 verified members to launch your Nextdoor website.

Basically they have a minimum engagement threshold and if you don't make it they eliminate you?

It sounds like they make you compete with your neighbors to sign up 10 households. 

This is a great idea that was just run badly.  50 is kinda limiting for neighborhood group, maybe neighborhoods should have had some overlapping? 

Someone else could run with this idea, and do it right, think of the potential for ads, local pizza joint special, neighborhood mechanic, car dealership, veterinarian. 

Also great spot for keeping abreast of going-ons of the neighborhood, little league games, who's having a garage sale, babysitter available, it could even be a place to group homeowners together and bargain down a large project, like driveway sealings, or new roofs.

Is 50 the max size or the min size?

I'm still unclear on why NextDoor would turn Greg away other than maybe they don't believe he's a leader in his neighborhood who can rally his neighbors?

Per Gregory: "They restrict it to 50+ houses", so around 50? give or take?

I think what you call a neighborhood when you're drawing the map has to be a minimum of 50 houses. 

And then to get established you need to sign up 10 of those houses within 3 days. 

I originally wanted to do just 10 houses which are the neighbors that I know, but they only let you do a lot more.  I don't know why they would prefer NO USER instead of small numbers of users that could grow over time as things happen that are relevant to that context.   Heck, sharing information on slab leaks within the neighborhood for houses that were all built at the same time would be extremely valuable.  I like the idea of bargaining down on large projects.   We get a lot of door to door sales people that say, "I'm friends/relatives with so and so down the street", but when you message so and so they say never heard of him.  

Heck, even posting notices about annoying door to door sales idiots would be helpful.  We get a lot of scammers coming through from time to time. 

Okay, I get it, a neighborhood according to NextDoor has to be at least 50 houses, and to create a NextDoor community you have to get at least 10 of those houses to sign up within 3 days. 

I agree that it could be useful to neighborhoods of smaller size than 50 houses. 

I live in a "Next Door" neighborhood and like it.  It has been a good thing for our community, I think.  We are in a rural area and Next Door has seemed to help out in a variety of ways from stray animals and burglary warnings to party invitations.

Were you the one who signed up your neighborhood or did you get invited.   How many houses?  Did you get a postcard?  I'm not disagreeing that it'd be useful, I'm saying their model for initial user acquisition sucks.  They managed to turn an interested an engaged user into a hater of the service.

As of moments ago we are 41 households strong.  I was not the organizer and did receive a postcard. (I'm also not affiliated with them in any way :-) 

Your experience with Next Door certainly does leave much to be desired and I'm sorry it went that way for you.  My intent in commenting is simply to share my experience with the service - limited though it is - especially compared with yours.  It has been good.

If the folks who run the service are savvy enough to monitor blogs then perhaps they've already seen your posting and (surely) other similar postings and are taking measures to correct things/tune their signup process.

What advice would you give them to help an interested person (like you were) involve the other people in the neighborhood?

Give the community time to develop.  Don't treat your customers like tools.   The idea that their service is going to be instantly helpful and valuable without letting users discover the value is delusional.   The idea that people are forced into their artificial marketing timeline is slightly dehumanizing.   I'd rather use Patch. 

My advice to them?  Go back to selling used cars.  

Not to revisit an old thread, but some more thoughts. This week in my neighborhood?

One lost Turtle.  My sister several years ago lost their turtle.  After bouncing around in the neighbor's yard for three years, it decided to venture further into the neighbor, neighbor's yard and was spotted and returned.   Someone should do a tag-gps based turtle add-on and verticalized local neighborhood website. In fact, I think that's what I'll use my Tiles for (if they ever finish building them and ship me one!)One 2 alarm fire.  It was so big the kids even saw it from the school up the hill.  Nobody turned to local news (though the local news van was there).  Everyone turned to Twitter.  In a world of Twitter, I'm not sure there is a need for a local gossip and news site beyond a city.  My final thought is, we get a lot of "high end" boutique restaurants and yes, even mini-marts because of the demographics in our city.   They expect a certain type of customer, and when their customer turns out to be not what they imagined, they have "business model" mismatches that cause them heartache.  Whether it's the local wine mart that expects you to drop in any time and buy a $75 bottle of wine, but the slushee machine is broken so your kids is upset to the little hole in the wall restaurant with the exotic menu who refused to serve you when you bring your kids as it ruins the ambiance.   The bottom line is, know thy customer, be customer-centric, don't force your business model on your customers, and for goodness sakes, don't scale your business model before it's successful--especially a consumer business model. These galloping assumptive consumer business models that don't grow organically and get superfunded always end in tears.

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