Deep Work Club Experiment Learnings

Background

  • With the goal of finding a profitable model for operating Cabin outposts, Cabin Labs has been incubating the Deep Work Club bet originally mentioned in its list of proposed bets.
  • Over the past month and a half, we’ve tested a membership offering at Neighborhood Zero for Austin-based creators to escape distraction and engage in deep work out in nature.
  • The bet was that intentional, ambitious knowledge workers would be willing to pay for access to a rural property for the ability to focus on their work and be part of a likeminded community.
  • The offering was $350/mo for 5 overnight stays per month, 24/7 access to the property and it’s facilities, and ability to create anything on the property that costs ≤$200 and have the costs covered.

Learnings

Successes

  • Sold 3 memberships in the first month
  • Got 8 individuals to make the hour drive out of Austin to come for a tour of the property

Failures

  • Only 1/8 of the tours converted into members
    • The inconvenience of the 1hr drive seemed to outweigh the perceived value for the target demographic
      • Prospects would come out for a tour and dinner, have a good time and enjoy the property, but from the experience would also develop an understanding of the travel required, causing them to not convert.
  • This experiment targeted the wrong demographic. Driven workers in their 20s and 30s value social interaction, proximity, and cost.
    • The members that did convert converted largely because of the people currently co-living at Neighborhood Zero, who are leaving at the end of the year. With less people around in the new year, the offering will decrease in value for the target demographic.
    • There are alternative places to engage in deep work that are closer to their home, such as a coffee shop or library.
    • Many in this demographic are paying rent for their primary place of residence. Subscribing to this membership adds an additional monthly rent.

Looking Forward

  • We’re not going to end the experiment just yet; An intuitive understanding of the problem suggests that this offering may be better suited for young families
    • A family can enjoy the space whether or not there are others also on the property
    • Parents want their kids to get to experience nature. This offering is better than currently available alternatives
      • Camping requires extensive planning, lots of equipment and is less comfortable
      • Owning a second home / ranch is financially unobtainable for many
      • Vacations out in nature typically can only occur a few times per year
    • Having multiple families on the property may birth new friendships and improve the experience for users
  • The new version of this experiment will last until end of January
    • If successful, a proposal will spin out
    • If unsuccessful, the experiment will end and the learnings will be shared
3 Likes

I think creating a network of tiny vacation cabins that families could buy into or work/share would work. Some people just buy in as investors, others as vacationer’s. During non member times could be rented out to digital nomads. .

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Hey Charlie (:

Interesting experiment. One piece of feedback I can give you from my personal analysis of Cabin related to gaining members and demographics, as you say, is this: I find Cabin intriguing because in theory, it’s an antithesis to individualism and capitalism in North America.

However, I personally find one crucial piece missing which is the history of colonialism and imperialism on this continent. Cabin was founded, it seems, to address some crucial problems in society: loneliness, disconnection from the surrounding nature and land and one another. These problems are deeply connected with the society’s collective focus on money, things and economy (rather than the well-being of the people), and the reason North America was colonized in the first place.

My point being that the problems North American society faces today originated a long time ago, and Cabin’s story feels incomplete without reflecting and learning from those pieces.

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Thanks for the feedback! Check out our vision doc, (Cabin | Building Cabin’s Network City) particularly these sections:

  1. “Why we’re building a city”
  2. “Culture, Economy, Governance”
  3. “Next 500 Years”

We’ve thought and written a lot about the questions you’re raising and agree that they are an important part of Cabin’s story : )

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Hi Charlie,

Did you explore the option of offering people to rent/purchase a tiny home with a membership/use of land instead of their regular rental for their primary place of residence?

Are tiny houses legal in Austin ideally without permits? (assuming they are not? :/)

I wonder if it’s something that will be a success for the existing demographic of the experiment. My guess is yes.

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Hey Alice, we did not explore the option you’re bringing up.

If I understand you correctly, you’re talking about turning Neighborhood Zero into a place where people can park their tiny homes on wheels. That’s an interesting idea as it would help grow the number of homes on the property in a capital-light way—Neighborhood Zero would generate revenue with each new home, but would still require the upfront investment of installing new infrastructure (electrical, septic, water).

What we opted to pivot to instead was expanding the membership to all citizens across the network. Now each citizen gets 7 nights at Neighborhood Zero included in their membership.

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Yes, exactly.
Something to consider.

Perhaps for the next pivot.

I’ll be joining the Cabin meeting in less than an hour, guess I’ll see you there?

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