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Sarah Leary

9 Podcast Episodes

Latest 1 May 2021 | Updated Daily

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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How Nextdoor Scaled Community to 268,000 Neighborhoods with Sarah Leary

Masters of Community with David Spinks

On this episode, we’re joined by longtime community leader, Sarah Leary, the Co-Founder of NextDoor and investor at Unusual Ventures. Sarah discusses the influence community is having on personal and professional lives, and its key role in building businesses relationships with customers. We discuss Sarah’s experience building the NextDoor community, growing it from 1 to 250,000 neighborhoods across the United States. Sarah emphasizes the need to embed community into the product team to create a change in the product and put community insights into action. Dive into the full episode to learn what Sarah looks for when investing in communities and how she measures the business value of community.Who is this episode for?: B2C, Online and In Person, Scaling3 key takeaways:Embed the community into the product team to enact change into the product itself. Community insights are actually put into action and lead to a better product over time.Invest in building community early on by authentically interacting with your users. Identify the early adopters and develop relationships with them that will lead them to become the voice of the community.Measurable impact of community: Percentage of growth coming from organic sources and referrals Notable Quotes:“Where can you get the resources to put the ideas into practice? So sometimes that means just embedding it in the product team, right. So the simple act of having someone who owns community, who's sitting in the weekly, or potentially even daily product meetings and constantly raising what the issues are and getting that team to be hyper-responsive to the needs of the community, like that can have a huge impact.”“You can plant the seeds, but you've got to nurture it and turn over the soil and water it and cultivate it in the early stages of building any community, and this was true with next door, you've really got to do the hard, heavy lifting of nurturing a community.”Rapid fire question answers:1. What’s your favorite book to recommend to others? Bowling Alone - Robert Putnam2. What are critical Industries you’re looking to invest in? FinTech, Crypto3. What’s your wildest Community story? Epinions blows dogs. Revolt from community. Changed reward system and limited ability to edit reviews. Cannot take away community’s ability to change content.4. Who’s an up and coming community builder you think is going to do big things? Evan Hamilton at Reddit, Erica Kuhl formerly at Salesforce and now a consultant5. What’s a community building technology/app all should use? NextdoorContra, which is a place to connect with other independent/freelance workers - profile is at the forefrontBuilding robust profiles should be a focus of all communities6. A community product you’d love to invest in if someone built it today? A platform to help our country unite across political lines7. What’s your go-to community engagement starter? Personal Appeal - tell a story when you have a need. 8. Weirdest community you’ve been a part of? Son of Sam Horn community, Foodie Community (Food 52)9. If you’re on your death bed and you could only leave one piece of life advice behind for all the future generations, what would that advice be? Most treasured things in life must be earned. There’s not shortcut. The harder they are to achieve, the more they will be treasured. True in personal life, business, and community. Work on things that have impact and extend beyond your direct day-to-day involvement. If it feels hard, that’s a good sign.Contact Info Twitter: @SarahLearyUnusual.vc

1hr 9mins

8 Mar 2021

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343: How To Find The Next Big Business Idea with Nextdoor Co-Founder Sarah Leary

Foundr Magazine Podcast with Nathan Chan

For Sarah Leary, entrepreneurship has always been in her blood. Growing up in a household of small-business owners including her grandmother who was also an entrepreneur, she knew she would eventually be one, too. She remembers that even when she was working for Microsoft as part of the founding team for Microsoft Office, she knew that being a business owner was her future. From her development, launch, and successful scaling of Nextdoor into the world’s largest private social network for neighborhoods, Leary has experience in every aspect of entrepreneurialism. Her advice for budding entrepreneurs comes from years of experience in both scaling a business, building a community, and growing brands.  In this interview with Nathan Chan, Leary reveals the absolute essentials every new entrepreneur needs to tick off when they want to start something new. As a venture partner at Unusual Ventures, Leary has advice straight from the frontline of what she wants to see in a pitch.  Key Takeaways How Leary grew up in a household of business owners and entrepreneurs and why that means she always knew she would be one too Finding herself in the early start-up culture of Silicon Valley in the 90s Her first business and how she faced failure, the decision to pivot, and a whole new frontier The beginning of Nextdoor, and it’s growth internationally over the past decade Joining Unusual Ventures, and why she wants to dedicate her time to helping others build companies from the ground up Why founders need to be comfortable validating their ideas and assumptions The two essential questions entrepreneurs need to ask themselves before starting How Leary developed Nextdoor through a combination of brainstorming, customer research, and why you need to consider customer painkillers Why every entrepreneur needs to learn to do extraordinary work for a narrow band of people, and then expand How Leary fuelled the Nextdoor community, and why networks need leaders Why Leary believes authenticity is the most important part of community strategy, and why you need to start with it Why Leary stepped down from Nextdoor, and how the team of Unusual Ventures is rolling up their sleeves to help new entrepreneurs  Leary’s reveals the secret to pitching ideas correctly, and what Unusual Ventures looks for in a new business idea

59mins

2 Feb 2021

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How Empowering Local Leaders Grew NextDoor to 94% of US Neighborhoods with Sarah Leary

Masters of Community with David Spinks

Sarah Leary began her research of community back in 1999 which led to developing a sports community in 2008, Fan Base. The community had little success and Sarah faced the question of “when do you cut the rope and try something else? Or hustle a little more to get the momentum?”. Sarah decided to cut the rope and two years later founded Next Door. She recognized that people had both social and professional identities, but there was an underserved neighborhood identity that needed attention. Sarah began going door to door, meeting to meeting, and person to person explaining the concept of Next Door. She began a long and thorough process to find neighborhood champions who would invest time in their neighborhood to recruit and introduce the platform to others. As the community grew, racial profiling became an issue, but after implementing detailed checklists and procedures for members to stop and think before taking action, Next Door’s racial profiling reduced by 75%. Next Door now has communities in 94% of US neighborhoods and continues to grow rapidly. Who is this episode for?:B2C, In Person & Online, Starting & Scaling3 key takeaways:- The quality of neighborhood community champions was crucial to the success and growth of Next Door.- Next Door reduced Racial Profiling by 75% after initating a detailed checklist for community members to stop and think before reporting. - Gathering individuals together in a physical space developed deeper connections that strengthened the Next Door community and made it possible to scale online.

25mins

5 Oct 2020

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147 Sarah Leary: Nextdoor’s Co-founder Becomes a VC

Something Ventured -- Silicon Valley Podcast

There are only so many iconic social networks in the world – and Nextdoor is one of them.  While perhaps not as fast-growing as Facebook or even LinkedIn, Nextdoor has steadily become the hub for neighborhoods around the world. Sarah Leary founded Nextdoor, along with Nirav Tolia, Prakash Janakiraman, and David Wiesen. In this episode, Sarah tells the story of getting Nextdoor off the ground.  She talks about the painstaking work they did to figure out how to build a healthy community around a neighborhood, before they were ready to scale. We talk about the impact COVID-19 had on Nextdoor communities, and how and why she decided to become a venture capitalist at Unusual Ventures. Notable Episode Quotes On Starting Her Career at Microsoft “I joined Microsoft at really a golden time:  The early 90s.  I was on the product team that launched the first version of Microsoft Office, and that was an all-star team. It was a time when Microsoft was just taking off and went from being this software company that some people had heard of to a household name. I was fortunate enough to, for example, be on stage where we launched Office ninety five with Bill Gates and Jay Leno.  We were writing the script as we went along and that was an amazing learning curve.” On the “Pivot” from Fanbase to Nextdoor “If you don't get the seeds of a community right in the beginning, it becomes very difficult to fix it. And after about six months, we actually offered to give the money back to Bill Gurley, who was the lead investor in Fanbase. He said, ‘That's the easy way out. I'll give you three months to work on some new ideas. It doesn't have to be directly related to Fanbase. But why don't you guys take another crack at it?’ That was hard. It was very hard to step back and say.  ‘This isn't working and confess to each other that we didn't think it was going to be the next ESPN’, but I'm so glad that we did.” On the Earliest Days of Nextdoor “The idea of Nextdoor changed pretty dramatically in those early stages before we ever wrote a line of code. And thankfully, it's probably saved us from years of going down the wrong path and frankly, probably losing faith in what it was that we were trying to. The prototype was actually launched in the Bay Area and with one neighborhood in Menlo Park, and it worked. People wanted to talk to their neighbors, but we were very cautious and said, OK, that's not enough. Let's try some other ones. In Seattle, Washington, we had one in upstate rural New York. We had one outside of Washington, D.C., and one in Tennessee. And we just started to see how people were using the platform. And that gave us the confidence after we did about five of those to say, ‘OK, this is the winning idea and we're going to double down on it’.” Unusual Ventures:  https://www.unusual.vc Something Ventured:  www.somethingventured.us

52mins

29 Sep 2020

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Sarah Leary x Nextdoor

Dive In By Brown EP

Sarah Leary is the co-founder and current board observer of Nextdoor, a neighborhood social networking platform for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services. Leary took on her current role at Nextdoor after founding, growing, and scaling the company.

23mins

30 Mar 2020

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Sarah Leary of Nextdoor: “The Moment You Know You've Created Something Valuable"

Starting Greatness

Nextdoor today is worth more than $2 Billion and is used by 250,000 neighborhoods throughout the world. Silicon Valley types had doubts about their approach, but Sarah offers valuable ideas for finding the path to the light. One crucial hint is that users matter far more than the folks in the "chattering class."

50mins

2 Dec 2019

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E53 - Sarah Leary, Nextdoor

Open the Pod Bay Doors

Last week, we hosted a breakfast with Sarah Leary, the phenomenal founder of US-unicorn, Nextdoor, as they launched their social network for neighbourhood communities in Australia. For those not lucky enough to attend, fear not, Ian brought along his recording gear so we could capture Sarah’s amazing story and experience for building great communities and share with you.Nextdoor was launched in the US in 2011 as a social network for people to interact with others who live in their physical neighborhoods. Neighbourhoods across the US rely on the platform to engage with their community, and in the past year, the service became available in several countries across Europe.What many people don’t know, is that before Nextdoor’s success, Sarah and her co-founders Nirav Tolia, Prakash Janakiraman and David Wiesen had already tried building a startup. It was called ‘Fanbase,’ a platform for sports fans to congregate and share information, and it was live for 2 years before Sarah realised that it didn’t have real potential for growth. Having raised money from investors already, they had to decide whether they would return the money or put it towards a new idea.In 2010, Sarah & her co-founders decided it was time to come up with new ideas. One of these ideas started with a pothole problem. Cofounder Nirav, had a pothole on his street, and he didn’t know how to get it fixed or where to start. This small problem, sparked an idea around creating more connectivity in communities, so the team created Nextdoor to tackle this problem in neighbourhoods.They dedicated time to validating the idea in San Francisco neighbourhoods and found that people really seemed to crave connection to other people & community, with the data showing that 21% of Americans couldn’t name their neighbours, and 27% didn’t know who actually lives next door. Since its launch, Nextdoor is now used by 84% of neighbourhoods across the US, over a range of 170k communities, and has recently launched in new markets in the Netherlands, UK, Germany and now Australia! Sarah emphasises that patience is required when building communities and how important constant customer validation is as you build a product that people want to use. She also stresses how vital it is to have investors aligned with your long term vision. This is a fascinating conversation with a truly exceptional leader building a global business with a purpose. If you haven't already signed up to Nextdoor do it now - https://au.nextdoor.com

1hr 9mins

7 Nov 2018

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E53 - Sarah Leary, Nextdoor

Open the Pod Bay Doors

Last week, we hosted a breakfast with Sarah Leary, the phenomenal founder of US-unicorn, Nextdoor, as they launched their social network for neighbourhood communities in Australia. For those not lucky enough to attend, fear not, Ian brought along his recording gear so we could capture Sarah’s amazing story and experience for building great communities and share with you.Nextdoor was launched in the US in 2011 as a social network for people to interact with others who live in their physical neighborhoods. Neighbourhoods across the US rely on the platform to engage with their community, and in the past year, the service became available in several countries across Europe.What many people don’t know, is that before Nextdoor’s success, Sarah and her co-founders Nirav Tolia, Prakash Janakiraman and David Wiesen had already tried building a startup. It was called ‘Fanbase,’ a platform for sports fans to congregate and share information, and it was live for 2 years before Sarah realised that it didn’t have real potential for growth. Having raised money from investors already, they had to decide whether they would return the money or put it towards a new idea.In 2010, Sarah & her co-founders decided it was time to come up with new ideas. One of these ideas started with a pothole problem. Cofounder Nirav, had a pothole on his street, and he didn’t know how to get it fixed or where to start. This small problem, sparked an idea around creating more connectivity in communities, so the team created Nextdoor to tackle this problem in neighbourhoods.They dedicated time to validating the idea in San Francisco neighbourhoods and found that people really seemed to crave connection to other people & community, with the data showing that 21% of Americans couldn’t name their neighbours, and 27% didn’t know who actually lives next door. Since its launch, Nextdoor is now used by 84% of neighbourhoods across the US, over a range of 170k communities, and has recently launched in new markets in the Netherlands, UK, Germany and now Australia! Sarah emphasises that patience is required when building communities and how important constant customer validation is as you build a product that people want to use. She also stresses how vital it is to have investors aligned with your long term vision. This is a fascinating conversation with a truly exceptional leader building a global business with a purpose. If you haven't already signed up to Nextdoor do it now - https://au.nextdoor.com

1hr 9mins

7 Nov 2018

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Nextdoor Co-Founder Sarah Leary on The Journey of the Pivot | #ProductSF

Greymatter

Nextdoor Co-Founder and VP of Marketing & Operations Sarah Leary talks about the journey of pivoting from FanBase to Nextdoor. She shares both the emotions and learnings their team took away from the pivot, and how they eventually identified the burning need for a social network for neighborhoods. Sarah highlights the importance of creating a product that is a “need to have” versus a “nice to have” and why it's key to do unscalable things in the early stages of building community products.#ProductSF is a product-centric event hosted by Greylock Partners. The conference brings together a community of founders, PMs, and product leaders to talk about the challenges of building new, innovative products that change lives and create habits.

29mins

6 Dec 2016