I’ll admit it. I’m an excitement junky. I’m always looking for the next big thrill. Especially in business. And this fall has been no exception. In July I got involved with Blackbox Republic. Well, threw myself at them is more like it. This is what I wrote to CEO Sam Lawrence after my first meeting with he and his partner April Donato. “To me, Black Box Republic is the missing element in a global movement towards human expansion. It is the ultimate instrument for rapid, massive social change. The place where like-minded, love-oriented people can converge to connect, explore, and collectively improve this incredible journey called life on earth. Wow! Sign me up.”
So they said “yes” and here we are launching six months later. Boot camp for all of us is all I can say. Say hello to Blackbox Republic, the world’s first “private place” for all orientations, lifestyles and relationship styles to meet online and in person. To me that just means, bring on the party people, all of them, right here, right now. The whole notion of “be who you are right now” is the underlying theme of this experience. Check out the sliders that you use to explain what you’re into right now.
Driving big change is never easy. But not easy usually translates to long-term satisfaction and fun for those of us who like a challenge. Not only do I think this business is great from an anthropological stand point, but I think it represents all the trappings of the successful businesses that are emerging right now. There are five things about this business model that makes me think it will work:
- Based on paradigms that people understand (online dating and social networking) but fills some major gaps like privacy, more natural ways of meeting and getting to know people, celebration of individuality rather than labeling.
- Built around a base of founding members who have input into the features, partnerships and share in the rewards of bringing in the masses. Building a business around customers creates a blooming effect from the start.
- Alignment with partners who serve the same audience. BBR has set up a co-op business model to share audience and proceeds with event promoters and online marketing affiliates. In return, BBR provides its members with a wide range of ways to connect outside of the Republic.
- They don’t try to hide the fact that the creation and delivery of this experience costs money. Gone are the days when companies can build a website, have a few business models in their back pocket and hope one sticks. Blackbox Republic charges for the features it delivers. Plain and simple. If you want free, go hang out with grandma on Facebook.
- Make the experience a priority. Yep, any old hack can throw up a website today. But when you’re facilitating a journey, life’s journey, you have to take it seriously. All of the features from the “freedom to change and be yourself” aspect of your persona to the events functions, screams, let’s make friends, share experiences, and enjoy life together. And for employees, Sam and April have really set out to create the ‘un-corporation.’ It’s been a loosely based federation of passionate people who’ve come flying out of the woodwork to help. And it’s grown into a driven, loving, respectful group of people who really believe in what they’re doing.
Viva la republic