The Community Club

Kirsti Buick for The Community Club

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'I’m Still Mind Blown by Our Community': Mark Tan's Journey from Product Manager to Community Builder

As one of the first employees at Wyze, Director of Product Mark Tan realized pretty early on that tapping into community insights was a golden ticket to improving product development.

Here's a window into his world — and what he'll be taking a deep dive into with our own Head of Product, Chelsea Bathurst, in a fireside chat at this years' Community Club Community-Led Summit.

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Tell us about your journey to community.

Mark: "I joined Wyze in 2018 as a product manager, when there were 20 employees in the company. We started building community out of necessity because when you build physical products — we build smart home products at Wyze — it's very hard to know whether they're working or not without putting them out in the world.

So I started working with beta testers who were giving us really good feedback on products. Over the course of three years, I started leading more community growth efforts because I saw potential in getting feedback from them and then using that feedback to enhance our products. I'm still mind blown with the amount of effort that they put in because they really care about our products. To give you an example, they provide us with very detailed feedback on whether an onboarding process was confusing or not, how we can improve the quality and reliability of our cameras, and suggestions on how to redo our workflows in a way that resonated with them.

We do research and testing as part of our product development. But it's really different when you put products into a natural environment. Once we started putting products out there, our community testers would report issues and give praise, and all of that fed back into better product releases. We've since grown the number of testers from under 100 to more than 20,000 hardware beta testers, which in turn has helped grow our customer base to more than 5 million paying customers."

Why do you think approaching community from a product mindset is valuable?

M: "It really builds a strong community relationship from the start when you're still working with the product as part of the formative process. As we're developing the product, the community is already saying, 'No, you shouldn't do this', or 'Yes, you should do that because the implications down the road are x, y and z.' The community is invested from the start when they care about your mission."

Have you ever worked with community in this way before?

M: "The short answer is no. I've always talked to customers, but always in one-to-one, small group research, contextual interviews, or conducting more passive surveys. I haven’t done it on a scale that I do now — dealing with 20,000 people.

And, as a product manager, I realized I couldn't do everything, so we hired our first Community Lead, Gwen. And then we added two more community leads. From there, we hired a beta program manager, and then finally the UX researcher. I lead a team of eight people, which is a cross-functional team — we all represent the voice of the customer and the community."

If you'd like a closer look at how product meets community at Wyze, don't miss out on Mark and Chelsea's fireside chat at our Community-Led Summit, on May 11, 2021 at 2 p.m. PDT.

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