Thursday, February 8, 2007

Q&A: Noah Kagan and Community Next

Since joining Jangl in July, I've had the good fortune to meet a lot of very smart and very kind folks, and I hope to write about as many as possible in the coming months. But this time around, the spotlight is on Noah Kagan, who is not only very smart and kind, but uber-creative, tireless, funny, optomistic and inspiring, as well.

Noah formerly worked at Facebook and Intel in product management and marketing roles, and currently consults with online personal finance site MyMint. His blog is rife with juicy, random marketing ideas and thoughts on having meaningful conversations, but also serves as a shared pulpit for those who want to get and give advice. This blog truly does have a community feel, and it is a helluva fun read. (Noah also likes burritos, which means he needs to see my post below, even though he's a good ol' South Bay native like yours truly.)

But first and foremost these days, Noah is spearheading one of Silicon Valley's most-anticipated events, the Community Next gathering in Palo Alto this Friday and Saturday. When Jangl caught wind of the event, it was an utter no-brainer that we were there, so we jumped onboard as a sponsor immediately. Michael will be joining the VIP dinner at Il Fornaio on Friday night, and taking the stage at the event on Saturday shortly after lunch (tent.). We're fortunate to be in good company, with folks like Guy Kawasaki, Tara Hunt, and Markus Frind, and companies like Offermatica, Slide, VideoEgg, and Pat and team's Roam4Free.

But Community Next wouldn't be happening without Noah Kagan, and he was kind enough to talk with us a little bit despite his crazed schedule.

TJ: You must be slammed right now. What's your typical day/night been like in the last few weeks? (Stream of consciousness permitted!)

NK: I wake up around 10 a.m. Go to work at MyMint. They know I am doing the conference and are extremely supportive so during the day I make calls (to you), coordinate things and get the work I promised them I would do. Leave the office around 8 - 9 p.m. and go to the gym for my marathon training (Mar 4, Napa Valley Marathon). Leave around 11 p.m. and then go home and work on the conference until 3:30 - 5 a.m. It is early at 2:15 a.m. today but won't sleep until later. :)

TJ: You once wrote that Facebook was one of the top 9 companies it was cool to say you worked for. Is it cooler now to say you used to work for them?

NK: I think it always cool to say you work(ed) at Facebook. They are more respected now which is nice for me. I think to work there might be different now with so many people and more policies to follow.

TJ: At VentureBeat last year, you advised community "stewards" to think about two things. 1) Are you involving or considering your community members when you move forward with your business and 2) Are you making an effort to strengthen, empower and/or possibly create your community?" Do you have any examples of folks who are doing the best jobs in those two areas right now?

NK: Wow. Deep stuff. I wouldn't say I am a community expert and anyone who does I would question. I think a lot about community is authenticity and just knowing your personal and communal needs. I think Meebo has done a great job. Ted (Rheingold) from Dogster (ed: also a Community Next sponsor) is great at keeping people updated, listening to his user and acting on it. I don't think enough sites empower their audience. This is giving them tools to promote, the right tools for their needs (running log for a running community, measurements for a clothing community, etc.). It is late so my answers could be incomprehensible but I would stick to what I said.

TJ: Community Next succeeds beyond your wildest dreams -- what exactly does that look like?

NK: What it looks like now! It has really blown me away at this point, the waiting list for tickets, sponsor involvement and everyone chipping in. My ultimate goal is that everyone has fun and we have a high percentage of attendees/sponsors who want to come back next year.

TJ: Any tricks up your sleeve after Community Next? WNFN (What's next for Noah?)

NK: Just working on MyMint and seeing if me and the crew are going to plan another shindig. I am going to keep training for my marathon March 4 and rest for a bit after that. And by resting I mean a day or two. :)

Nice job, Noah Kagan and team. Looking forward to Saturday!


noah said...


Amazing piece. I really appreciate your support of the event and look forward to having a blast with you.

Timothy Johnson said...

Thanks for your time and your tireless effort, Noah. Now go to bed. In three hours. ;)