izza wrap: the leap.club annual report 2023
as a team, building in public is what we've always believed in, so read these unhinged points that come straight from our hearts. we try to cover everything - the ups, downs & everything in between.
2023 has been a ride (and a half) for us at leap.club, and since it's the season of wraps, we thought we should do one too. here are ten major, no-filter points that cover our journey this year:
we grew from ~9000 members to ~25,000 members in the last 12 months. to be honest, we don't know if we should be happy about this number. we missed our year end target, but we also feel 2023 was the best year for us as it taught us so much. as founders and founding team members, we always keep aiming for more and often tend to forget to celebrate the smaller victories. here’s us taking a pause, and patting our backs.
our sales world (how we onboard new members on the platform) changed dramatically. we built a fantastic sales team that had phone conversations with our first ~10,000 members for the first 2.5 years. over this period we had conversations with at least 40,000 women to talk about leap.club and more importantly understand their goals and aspirations. this helped us build leap.club with community as our core - but we ran into challenges. the model was heavily people dependent and couldn't scale + the team (all brilliant minds) got fatigued after a few months. so we took the hard call of taking our revenue to 0 and completely moved to selling memberships online in january this year. we tried trial memberships too but realised that our users needed to be patient with the product and hence (after a bunch of trials with pricing) increased the fee and moved to a lifetime membership. in july we welcomed 2400 new members which was a record for us.
we did the second big marketing campaign in leap’s history and this time with some popular faces and a legend. the campaign with zeenat aman and sayani gupta was a hit on socials and we welcomed almost 6000+ members in the subsequent couple of months post the campaign. zeenat aman even did a face to face session with our members in bombay that was no filter and full of fire. we worked with a lot of influencers to amp the campaigns and talk about what leap.club really is for the first time in 3 years. while we loved every single person we worked with, only 2/15 influencers really ‘worked’ for us (dm us to know who did).
the next time - we might skip overspending on influencer amplification and go straight for sustained social campaigns
needless to say - these couple of months were full of crazy for us and we created infinite memories that will stay with us forever.
speaking of meta - we invested heavily in meta ads and were always cac positive → which means we were earning more than we were spending. sounds great, right? it did to us too, but early december we pulled the plug on all our paid ads. we learnt that:
a) we were not building a brand in the meta cac chase. only a strong brand will help us get to 100,000 members and beyond.
b) we hit a ceiling with the new members joining us via meta and couldn't scale this source beyond a point.
our biggest learning from the last 10 months of running ads? there are no shortcuts to growth and money/ads cannot substitute long term brand building + organic growth. we have outlined a few ideas for 2024 which will help us drive our mission home + build the brand right. oh, and since we love spoilers, here is a teaser:
‘jobs by leap.club’ was supposed to be big for us, but it didn’t take off. not going to lie, this hurt. we have india’s most ambitious women on our platform as members + there is already a lot of hiring that happens organically - so getting great employers to recruit our members was a no brainer in our heads. we patiently built a super product, got some of the best employers (bcg, coke, gartner, zomato and 120 more), but numbers wise - demand and supply just didn't take off. our timing wasn't the best as companies were not recruiting super actively this year + people were not moving jobs as much. in hindsight, today we think that maybe our members do not associate leap.club with jobs. leap.club for them is a community, a feeling, and a place. a place where they learn from each other, build genuine relationships and form friendships. the majority were not looking for ‘jobs’ on leap.club. we have to build on what’s unique to us and delight our members better in that realm. some might think we didn’t give it enough time, but we shut jobs down after 9 whole months of working very hard on this product and dreaming about it for 4 years. this decision was easily the toughest one we had to take this year.
we shipped, shipped and then shipped some more. and fast. 2023 was definitely a breakout year for us in terms of tech & product. our tech became a lot more stable - lesser bugs and quicker releases. we launched circles - a way for members to build their online or offline micro communities; we worked hard and launched new algos for posts and polls that members see; new profile pages; new onboarding; universal string search; pros (connecting you with vetted professionals for high demand services); smoother event booking and transferring flow and so much more. our online community + the app are critical to leap.club and with 50%+ monthly active users - our members seem to agree too.
as a team, we were guilty of changing goals too often, and learnt that our north star can't change. we started to make the ‘levers’ that will take us forward, as our goals, and this was a mistake. for example, one of the goals we spoke about a lot internally was 100,000 members. but we realised that we can't chase the number alone. these come to us if we do everything else right. our only north star goal today is - member love. if women love leap.club, we will hit 1 million members. everything else like x events/month, x more circles, a better app are just levers that get us to our north star. for leap.club - only member love makes us win and that is the only thing we have to obsess about.
9/10 ideas might not work and that’s ok; but we have to continuously innovate, take risks, fail fast, move fast - but, gotta think through all risks. we have to truly imbibe being patient with ideas, and impatient with execution.
2024 is all about orbit change and truly crack pmf. startups take time to hit pmf. it does not happen in the first couple of years, and we are on our own journey. we always say that we have a concept market fit but have to work harder to crack + scale product market fit. women love the fact that they can meet other women via our online community, and our events build genuine friendships and professional connections. we have to go deeper and make this 100x easier and delightful for all kinds of women in india. we have to decide whether the community is our product or do we build something on top of it (like how we tried with jobs); do we go deeper into offline events?; do we chase revenue via # of members/scale or higher revenue from a smaller base? honestly, these are not easy questions and currently keep us up at night.
we went from a 55-person team at the start of the year to 20 people today. sounds a little scary, we know. well it was, but for a short time. being a lean team is always good and we took our time to think through which roles were critical for us and which weren’t.
all of us internally took a little time to come to terms with the smaller team, but it’s always important to remember that growth or culture is not about how large the team is, or how many offsites we do. these are, again, just levers that get us to our goals. and levers evolve. people are probably the most important lever and building a great culture is always p1 for us. but the truth is, people and roles need to evolve too. we made some mistakes in 2023 but we are not killing ourselves for it. we took the best calls that we could given the variables at play at the time.
growth for the team, business tailwinds, and independent + purposeful work will form the cornerstone of our culture in 2024.
ps. we are hiring for social media, finance and events - 📧 firstname.lastname@example.org
time for a humble brag and our mvp this year - we (read: the team) kinda killed it with events. we hosted 3 leap (af)fairs across delhi, bombay, bangalore with 1000+ women at each event, a christmas brunch at 5 cities - all at the same time, the annual leap day across 16 cities in 4 countries, worked with brands like cococart, l’occitane, myntra to host brand-led events, cracked multiple formats of learning + social led events across delhi, bombay, bangalore, pune and hyderabad. tldr - hosted 99 events across 365 days.
we’ve said this before (and most likely will say it again) but members continue to be our best catalyst in elevating leap.club. this year, we took building with our members to another level by introducing circles - a feature that empowered members to host their own events, and meet up with each other in ways we could not predict. from wine and dine sessions to travel plans, ahmedabad to london - our members hosted 400+ events by themselves.
fun fact, some of the member-led online workshops saw a lot more attendance and member love than big, moonshot speakers.
we are grateful for where we are as a company and proud of how far we have come. startups are tough, ambiguous and frustrating for most part. founders get most of the glory but the founding team is equally part of the grunt and the grind, and we are lucky to have people who truly build leap.club like their own. we know that what we do is not easy, but we also know that what we do impacts the lives of thousands of women and will hopefully impact millions in the years to come. so here’s to continuing to challenge the status quo, and to building a generational company in the long run ‘cause honestly:
- ragini, anand and your friends at leap.club