We talked to Ali Jafarian of member(dev) about membership platform and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ali Jafarian: We are fortunate to be above water. My direct family has not been affected, but we do have several family members who’ve contracted the virus at some point in the last 12 months. Everyone has recovered and we’re optimistic about a strong 2021.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded member(dev).
Ali Jafarian: I’m a husband, father, technologist, and life long learner, among many other things. I have 15+ years building software for the web. I founded member(dev) in 2014 after seeing a need for customized membership experiences.
We currently support a variety of customer demographics who seek to offer courses, member-only content, events, and other private community features. Our platform is very popular with fitness professionals, coaches, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs. We give our customers the guidance and tools needed to effectively plan, build and launch a membership platform.
How does member(dev) innovate?
Ali Jafarian: We innovate in two ways:
We’re constantly looking for ways to make our platform more useful and better support our customers. We also provide a free educational membership (Insider) for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Our innovation comes from aggregate data and experience. We’ve launched hundreds of platforms with millions of revenue and members. We have deep insight into which strategies are effective, and how to ultimately drive growth.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Ali Jafarian: The pandemic has had both positive and negative effects on our business. We’ve seen an increase in demand, especially earlier in 2020. However, we’ve also seen a lot of fear and conservatism around taking risks/spending money. This is natural and we’re doing what we can to accommodate people with financial challenges.
Overall, we’re doing just fine. We’re grateful to still be in business all things considered. We’re also inspiring our customers to take risks and use fear to their advantage. I strongly believe that we can recover quickly and prove resiliency if we leverage historical lessons. Now is the time to be bold!
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Ali Jafarian: We’ve had to turn down a few projects that seemed a too high risk. This was not easy since we want to be of service, but we’ve learned valuable lessons around our true customer demographic. For example, we do not serve people well who are coming from a place of deep fear/anxiety and expect instant results. Our most successful customers understand the time and patience required to build a solid foundation for their online business.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Ali Jafarian: The tools that play a more frequent role in our daily routines are Zoom, Slack, and Gsuite. We were already using these tools prior to the pandemic, but they are at higher utilization rates now that we’re 100% remote. It’s important to maintain strong connections, and these tools allow us to communicate more effectively.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ali Jafarian: Our major competitors are Kajabi, Thinkific, and Uscreen. These are not direct competitors since they offer a SAAS platform, whereas our offering is a managed (done for you) platform. However, they offer the same features and general deliverables that people expect with a membership platform.
We’ve always separated ourselves by offering a coaching component. In other words, our team has extensive experience building and launching membership platforms which these other companies lack. We provide this coaching to all of our customers as part of their project and will continue to do so as we stay competitive in the market.
Your final thoughts?
Ali Jafarian: We have a lot of optimism heading into 2021. It will be critical for small businesses to drive online revenue and we’re excited to enable that. We’re also putting substantial investment into our free educational community (Insider) to help small businesses navigate new territory.