This week’s Small Business Star is Stan Stalnaker, founder of online social network, Hub Culture. He began crafting the idea for the community in 2002, when writing his book on social globalisation. Hub Culture is a knowledge sharing community where members can swap their services and expertise, and even exchange their online digital currency, Ven, in return for help.
Launching his website to connect young globetrotting entrepreneurs, Stan’s team began to create events and opportunities for them to get together, collaborate and find shared opportunities. Over time this grew into a global social network with activities across London, Rio, Beijing and South Africa.
Hosting events saw the community grow
Although Hub Culture was born in Hong Kong in the autumn of 2002, it really found its feet as an online social network in Europe and South America, where we began creating the first events. These first Hub Culture events, drawing together the members of the network, happened in New York, London and Hong Kong. By January 2004 we’d set up our first Hub Culture Pavilion on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and from there the community took off and began to grow.
Today, over 25 pavilions have appeared on five continents, with over 60,000 people through our doors and 25,000+ members online. We see the community and the membership as our most important relationship and seek to grow based on these authentic interactions.
The knowledge within the community allows it to expand
A few years ago the community had grown to such a size we realised that, to be successful, we needed to create hubs within hubs – the ability for our members to create their own communities and networks within the context of Hub Culture. So we did this, and today a person can collaborate with their peers on their own terms and in their own ways.
We still create over-arching moments, experiences and Pavilions that many members will tap into, but the majority of activity today is happening in private environments where members can work on their own activities.
Today we have over 40 “Knowledge Brokers”, in 25 cities, who help curate our events and a team of editorial professionals who have interviewed over 900 CEOs and top management. Our own currency, Ven, which enables value exchanges within the community, is growing rapidly as the world’s largest asset-backed digital currency, and this brings new partners, audiences and members to us.
Technology is constantly evolving, and we’re at the forefront
Keeping up with the latest developments in our business is very important. Technology is constantly evolving, and we’re at the forefront of technology, both with the Ven currency and the online tools that help our audience collaborate. We’ve been early on many things – social networks, digital currency, co-working, and now we’re working a lot on identity – thinking about how you issue self-sovereign, digital identities to our members, and how they can use those identities in the wider world.
Given the physical risks of running properties and events that involve hundreds or thousands of visitors, we work a lot on cyber-security and data risk management related to our members. We manage many data and value transfers a day, and seek to offer the best environment for the safest execution of those transfers possible.
We seek to provide valuable services and connections to our members
There are always challenges to running a project as diverse and fast-moving as Hub Culture. Pavilions and projects we create are done with an eye toward creating a stunning experience first, something that becomes part of the conscious history of the network. We seek to provide valuable services and connections to our members. But, as we create these experiences keeping an eye on that is always a challenge. We’re up to it though, with an ever-expanding roster of projects to tackle.
At the moment we’re focused on creating exciting and rewarding experiences for our members through the Pavilions – with upcoming projects for the COP21 meeting in Paris, Davos at the World Economic Forum, and the America’s Cup in Bermuda.
Everyone laughed when we said someday Ven would trade in financial markets
Our biggest challenge was something once considered impossible – introducing our digital currency, Ven, into the financial markets. We were so early on digital currency that everyone laughed when we said someday it would trade in financial markets. Today, it’s the world’s most stable currency and the only digital currency trading in forex markets. But, it took eight years to accomplish that goal and we’re just getting started with where Ven can take us as a community and a business. We’re currently working with partners to expand Ven deeper into financial markets, creating a digital currency with environmental benefits that can serve society.
If you keep your eye on the intended outcome, it will reveal itself eventually
I’d advise budding entrepreneurs to just keep going and ignore temptations to constantly pivot. If you truly believe in what you’re doing, and you have the right intentions, eventually it will work out. It may take enormous sacrifice, and no one else may believe what you see is necessary, wanted, or even capable of existing. That’s okay. If you keep your eye on the intended outcome, it’ll reveal itself eventually.
You can recover certain aspects of the business but your determination is something that you alone can supply, and it can’t waver. Even when things look impossible, a solution will present itself if you stop and breathe for a moment. It’s also important to be honest and caring with those around you – it always comes back as fuel for your determination.
Find out more about Stan Stalnaker and Hub Culture by visiting: https://hubculture.com/
For more advice and insight from business owners, visit our Small Business Stars hub