Sarah Leary is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing and Operations at Nextdoor, the free and private social network for neighborhoods. Sarah started her career at Microsoft, and served as the Vice President of Produ...


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Last week, we hosted a breakfast with Sarah Leary, the phenomenal founder of US-unicorn, Nextdoor, as they launched their social network for neighbourhood communities in Australia. For those not lucky enough to attend, fear not, Ian brought along his recording gear so we could capture Sarah’s amazing story and experience for building great communities and share with you.

Nextdoor was launched in the US in 2011 as a social network for people to interact with others who live in their physical neighborhoods. Neighbourhoods across the US rely on the platform to engage with their community, and in the past year, the service became available in several countries across Europe.

What many people don’t know, is that before Nextdoor’s success, Sarah and her co-founders Nirav Tolia, Prakash Janakiraman and David Wiesen had already tried building a startup. It was called ‘Fanbase,’ a platform for sports fans to congregate and share information, and it was live for 2 years before Sarah realised that it didn’t have real potential for growth. Having raised money from investors already, they had to decide whether they would return the money or put it towards a new idea.

In 2010, Sarah & her co-founders decided it was time to come up with new ideas. One of these ideas started with a pothole problem. Cofounder Nirav, had a pothole on his street, and he didn’t know how to get it fixed or where to start. This small problem, sparked an idea around creating more connectivity in communities, so the team created Nextdoor to tackle this problem in neighbourhoods.

They dedicated time to validating the idea in San Francisco neighbourhoods and found that people really seemed to crave connection to other people & community, with the data showing that 21% of Americans couldn’t name their neighbours, and 27% didn’t know who actually lives next door. Since its launch, Nextdoor is now used by 84% of neighbourhoods across the US, over a range of 170k communities, and has recently launched in new markets in the Netherlands, UK, Germany and now Australia!

Sarah emphasises that patience is required when building communities and how important constant customer validation is as you build a product that people want to use. She also stresses how vital it is to have investors aligned with your long term vision. This is a fascinating conversation with a truly exceptional leader building a global business with a purpose.

If you haven’t already signed up to Nextdoor do it now – https://au.nextdoor.com

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