Winter 24 Roadmap

Yes, good call out.

I added some explicit language to the roadmap to emphasize the risks and issues we face with pursuing a consumer subscription membership model. Despite these risks, our recent experiments, user research, and intuition make Citizenship seem like the best business model for our community.

Here are some thoughts on these three issues:

:thinking: Core Problem - What high priority problem do Citizens have?

Citizens want a greater sense of connection to others and the ability to make meaning together. Their high priority problem is a lack of deep social connection.

Lack of social connection is one of the biggest problems in the western world. The U.S. Surgeon General has declared an epidemic of loneliness and isolation. We spend 20 fewer hours per month with friends than we did in 2003. One in four Americans aged 18-29 experienced loneliness yesterday:

So, it’s a wide and deep problem.

Unfortunately, social connectivity is one of those needs at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy that tends to be more of a vitamin than a painkiller. And solving it requires introspection and a willingness to take sizable actions to change your situation.

This is why I gave “core problem” a lower ranking originally. The solution, I think, is to make sure we have a clearer sense of who our target member is that is actively searching for a solution to this problem.

Cabin has grown out of a group of people who have a strong case of this problem and are seeking a solution. We are a diverse community, but on average, people who are a good fit for Cabin tend to be:

  • Very online
  • 25-40 years old
  • Remote worker
  • Semi-nomadic
  • Has or wants a family
  • Spends time in nature
  • Seeking belonging & meaning
  • Independent thinker
  • Gets along well with others

For these people, we can solve a high priority problem by connecting them with other likeminded people and giving them the opportunity to build relationships and make meaning together.

:heart: Value Prop

What is our solution?

We are building a network city: somewhere to feel at home anywhere in the world. This means people nearby who you want to spend time with. Friends to have over for a dinner party. Spare bedrooms to stay in across the world. People to connect with online and IRL.

Do people want this?

Yes, they do. The Network State Conference was a good proof point for this. So are the hundreds of people joining our Census and requesting a vouch for Citizenship, even when it’s challenging and ambiguous.

I gave this a lower ranking initially because we are defining a new category and people don’t know how to ask for something they’ve never had. But when the right people learn about Cabin and Citizenship, they want to be a part of it. The Network Citizens memo includes lots of good quotes from Citizens about why they value being a Cabin citizen. We need to continue to talk to members, refine the value, and make the product and marketing more clear.

Why is it 10x better than alternatives?

Network cities are a new category of market that we are defining and leading.

I originally gave this a lower ranking because there are other ways to find community and identity, but there aren’t other good ways to join a network city/state. As the leader of this ecosystem, we are attracting most of the people interested in the broader idea of network cities and states. I do think we have a 10x better solution for joining a real network city project than anyone else in the world right now.

Even though network cities are a new concept, they are adjacent to several other markets that could serve partially overlapping purposes. These are the markets we can measure ourselves against:

  • Social associations: Boy Scouts, Rotary International, Elks Club, Freemasons, etc
  • Hospitality exchanges: Couchsurfing, BeWelcome, Home Away, etc
  • Internet native communities: FWB, Nouns, DeGods, etc

:moneybag: Monetization - How are we going to make money off the solution?

I gave this a low ranking initially because consumer subscription memberships are a challenging way to make money. That said, I think that asking members to pay directly for the services provided by Cabin on a recurring basis is the clearest path to monetization for a community like Cabin. Citizenship is a natural fit for a subscription membership.

In the article linked above, Casey Winters offers some good ways to mitigate this problem that apply to Cabin:

1. Leverage network effects to solve retention and acquisition issues - in our case, this means continuing to grow a high quality community network that gets better as more people join.
2. Go multi-product earlier in your lifecycle to make the product stickier and raise price - for Cabin, this means offering a package of value as part of Citizenship: hospitality exchange, Supper Clubs, events, merch, governance, etc
3. Open up less saturated acquisition channels - community-led growth, particularly organic social content + member referral-based Citizenship growth, are a natural fit for us.
4. Start selling to businesses - longer-term, if network cities and states are successful, there will be a market for a SaaS version of our product that we can sell to other communities.

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