Tribe is a customizable online community platform primarily serving SMBs. As a SaaS product, Tribe offers multiple tiers of service, including a free tier and three paid (monthly) tiers configured to serve the needs of businesses from single entrepreneurs to enterprise organizations (with a focus on the SMB market). Customers include IBM, ASUS, Pipedrive, ConvertKit, Tim Horton’s, and more.
Co-founder and CEO Siavash Mahmoudian previously co-founded Breezio, another online community software solution targeting larger organizations and associations that included NASA and US Health & Human Services among its customers.
- $2.4m ARR spread across 1,000 premium SMB customers
- 300% YOY growth powered by 200-300 new sign-ups per day
- 60-70% of growth generated through inbound and content strategy
The typical Tribe customer already has a product or service but is looking for a way to incorporate community as a part of the user’s journey. Tribe enables the creation of a community platform within an existing product, department, or service area. The company differentiates itself from competitors by targeting the business market more than the creator market.
Tribe has recently released a brand-new version two of its platform, retooled from the ground up to meet the growing needs of its growing customer base. We sat down with CEO Mahmoudian to discuss the company’s journey thus far, along with where Tribe is headed in the years to come.
3 Co-founders Launched Tribe on 3 Key Attributes
Mahmoudian and his two co-founders launched the Tribe platform using three key attributes. They recognized the need for a community platform that was:
According to Mahmoudian, this is due to the fact that every online community is unique. Whether focused on a product, a service, or a function or job area, communities have unique needs that no single one-size-fits-all solution can meet. So the trio built Tribe to be customizable, with multiple apps and modules that can be utilized or bypassed according to the needs of the customer.
Along the same lines, they recognized early on the need for extendibility — users needed to be able to add additional features and extend the platform in strategic ways.
Lastly, community managers don’t want a community platform that runs alongside their product, service, or business unit. They want one that’s fully embeddable into whatever solution the customer is already providing.
These three traits — customization, extendibility, and embeddability — form the core approach for Tribe.
4 Tiers of Service on the Tribe Platform
Tribe users select from four tiers of service, starting with a free platform. Tribe is free to use for communities of up to 100 members. The free tier is fully featured, not strictly a demo or upsell product.
Next is the Plus plan, targeting smaller businesses and even individuals such as course creators. These entities need the ability to host more than 100 members in their communities (up to 10k).
The Premium tier, which generally starts around $200 per month, extends membership up to 100k and targets businesses looking for single sign on (SSO), more integrations to their products, app access, and more.
The fourth tier is geared for larger and enterprise users, with the customary custom pricing structure typical for enterprise plans. Enterprise customers include ASUS, IBM, Pipedrive, and others
100k Communities on Free Tier; 1k on Paid Tiers
Growth of the user base is heavily tilted to the smaller free plans, with an impressive 100k communities on the free tier presently. Revenue, on the other hand, comes almost exclusively through the three paid tiers, where Tribe has 1,000 current customers.
Highest ACV North of $100k
The Tribe platform drives revenue based on both number of users and needed additional use cases, apps, integrations and more. So, while the typical paying customer is associated with an ACV of $2,400, some enterprise customers scale considerably higher.
Tribe’s highest ACV as of press time sits slightly north of $100k, giving a hint of the growth possibilities embedded in the large customer and enterprise markets. Adding additional admins, app access, vendor nodes and other services and integrations drives up ACV, and larger business customers are the most likely to make use of these additional services and features.
Since the launch of the newest version of Tribe, the company has seen a significant uptick in expansion revenue. It’s too early to quantify this uptick, though, since the company has just three months of data since the launch of the new version.
30% Gross Churn Leads to 70% Net Revenue Retention Annually
Churn is critical for any SaaS company, including community platforms like Tribe. Existing Tribe customers are, on the whole, satisfied ones, with 70% net revenue retention annually. Couple this revenue retention with 300% YOY growth, and Tribe’s trajectory looks to impress over the near term. A 30% gross revenue churn annually is easily offset by aggressive growth, which the company has demonstrated consistently over its three years of existence.
We asked about the relatively high gross revenue churn, and Mahmoudian attributed the figure to the gap between promise market fit and product market fit. While Tribe’s first version ably demonstrated promise market fit, the company is still in the process of building out product market fit in its second, more stable iteration.
There are several silver linings in the churn data for Tribe, as well. Mahmoudian points out that churn rate among its largest (and most profitable) customers — enterprise orgs like IBM and Pipedrive — churn is near zero. Most of the churn comes from Plus customers, the lowest-paying paid customers in the Tribe ecosystem. Additionally, churn since the launch of the new version three months ago has been considerably less.
$7.5m Seed Round in 2020
Tribe initiated a seed round in 2020, led by Bessemer and CRV. The company raised $7.5m through that seed round on a $42m post valuation, selling 20% of business in exchange for the funding to rebuild the platform in a platform-first approach.
Prior to funding, Tribe successfully built a market-penetrating solution, but this first version simply got to promised market fit. After establishing the need and desire for the product, the company set out to rebuild the platform in a holistic way, laying the groundwork for future scalability and deeper functionality.
While the first version of Tribe proved viability and interest, this new version has the needed infrastructure in place so that teams can build more and better custom apps on the platform (including presets).
3x YOY ARR, Roadmap for Sustainable Growth
In 2020, Tribe hit approximately $800k in ARR. For 2021, the company’s monthly revenue thus far projects out to $2.4m ARR, making for 3x year on year growth in recurring revenue. Along with this demonstrated growth, the rebuilding of the Tribe platform lays the groundwork for continued growth and scale.
CEO Mahmoudian is aggressive in his outlook, targeting 5x year-on-year growth for 2022.
37 Team Members, Nearly Half Engineers
At present, Tribe employs 37 team members, 18 of which are engineers. Customer success and sales comprise the bulk of the rest of the team, which focuses on inbound rather than outbound as a growth strategy. Engineering forms a crucial component of Tribe as it does with all SaaS companies. Customer success and sales are both vital as well as the company looks to scale, finding its product market fit, not just promise market fit.
60-70% of Growth Comes Through Organic Inbound and Content Strategy
Tribe’s growth can be attributed certainly to the market need for a business-oriented community platform. Much of that growth, though, comes without significant spend. Mahmoudian states that 60 to 70 percent of new paying customers find Tribe through organic inbound traffic. This is thanks to a tight content strategy that helps the company rank highly in organic search.
Webinars are another part of the content strategy, where Tribe has managed an average of 1,000 sign-ups and 300 attendees. Webinars conclude with a CTA inviting attendees to book a demo of Tribe, with an upsell to premium plans as a part of the demo.
10% Technology; 90% Sense of Belonging
Mahmoudian observes that online communities are not primarily technological, at least in the eyes and experiences of the end-users. In his words, building communities is only 10% technology. The res — some 90% of the work — is creating and fostering a sense of belonging.
Of course, companies need the appropriate technology if they intend to implement a sense of belonging in an online forum. But the focus on creating a sense of belonging is most important, and Mahmoudian says that this is what drives Tribe as it continues to develop its platform.
Mahmoudian recognizes the challenges ahead for Tribe, namely increasing net dollar retention. The release of version two of Tribe and all the work that went into that release were key in the company’s strategy to increase this key metric, creating new and more flexible methods for revenue expansion for all classes and tiers of paid customers.