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How SISTA and The Galion Project Are Building Community

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At the French Tech edition of Sesamers On Tour, we were joined by Déborah Loye, CEO of SISTA, and Agathe Wautier, founder of The Galion Project. SISTA was founded 2 years ago to promote greater inclusiveness for women in startups and venture capital, while Galion is a think tank for French founders that is almost 6 years old.

While the organizations have different goals and target different members, Wautier and Loye offered several similar perspectives on how they have built communities. For instance, they both felt that community is a place where people contribute first, and then take second. Beyond that definition, they shared several other similar views:

1. Start Small: Galion has about 300 members now, but Wautier said she originally started with just a handful. SISTA also began modestly, with friends reaching out to friends.

“The easiest way to create a community and the one that works really well is to start with some people, and then ask them basically to bring on their friends,” Loye said. “And it’s a great way to build a community because everyone knows each other. And then you make sure that you have quality people because you know some of the people in your community already know them.”

2. Go Slow: Once started, don’t become focused on numbers. Instead, cultivate a measured pace in terms of expanding the community. This is essential to maintaining trust.

3. Be Inclusive: By their nature, communities will be somewhat exclusive because they are trying to assemble a particular group with at least some common traits. But that’s no excuse to ignore diversity.

SISTA is working to ensure that its membership reflects a wide range of social, economic, and educational backgrounds, Loye said. Meanwhile, Galion’s initial membership requirement included having raised a certain amount of venture capital. At the start, Wautier worried that Galion was turning into a “boys club,” and so had to be more aggressive about reaching out to female founders to balance the membership.

4. Listen: Wautier said, “You need to listen a lot to the members like the passionate. Don’t bother to think too much about persona and marketing techniques, which are really very good for business. In our community, we have different kinds of people and you really need to listen and listen a lot. If you are clear about the purpose and the mission, because you share the same purpose, you will always find a solution together using the community.”

5. Choose Your Medium: There are a lot of choices for platforms and communication tools. SISTA and Galion used WhatsApp, though Galion more recently switched to Telegram. SISTA also has a platform that lets members connect and see a calendar of events and connect with each other for advice. Rather than picking a medium because it’s trendy, it’s more important to find the right tools that fit the way members communicate, what they need to accomplish, and what makes them feel safe and welcome.

This article is part of a series produced in partnership with La French Tech & the French Tech Journal.

Cover photo by Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

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