Gina Bianchini is the Founder & CEO of Mighty Networks. Her mission at Mighty Networks is to usher in a new era of creative business built on community. Mighty serves “creators with a purpose” selling experiences, relationships, and expertise to their members via community, content, online courses, and subscription commerce–all offered in one place under the creator’s brand.
Before Mighty Networks, Gina and Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen launched Ning, a pioneering global platform for creating niche social networks. Under her leadership, Ning grew to ~100 million people in 300,000 active social networks across subcultures, professional networks, entertainment, politics, and education.
In addition to Mighty Networks, Gina serves as a board director of TEGNA (NYSE: TGNA), a $3 billion dollar broadcast and digital media company, and served as a board director of Scripps Networks (NASDAQ: SNI), an $12 billion dollar public company which owns HGTV, The Food Network, and The Travel Channel that merged with Discovery Communications in 2018.
- Who is Gina Bianchini?
The seed that ultimately became Gina’s mission in her work was growing up in a time and place and a family of incredibly curious people. Gina’s father had a passion for restoring old cars and her mother was always curious about the world around her, so much so that Gina can’t remember a time when she wasn’t reading a book.
Growing up in Cupertino gave Gina incredible opportunities because she found herself surrounded by people who would go on to be involved with things that would become LinkedIn, Facebook, and other major social networks. It was then that her friend came to her with the idea to create a new platform that gave people the ability to create social apps the same way they could create websites.
The common thread in Gina’s work has been the realization that people are awesome. Being able to bring people together around an interest or passion or goal is something that unlocks people’s abilities to create and participate in the world. One of the most powerful ways to go from point A to point B is through connecting with other people.
- What is so different about Mighty Networks?
Gina has a very specific definition of community that helps describe what she is doing, namely “bringing people together to master something interesting or important together”. The real power is when there is a person leading a community and curating it to create those conditions of mastery.
The network is the evolution and refinement of what’s going on at the intersection of online courses, podcasts, and communities. When you move away from thinking about all of those as separate pieces and start thinking your mission is to create the conditions for people to master something interesting together, that’s when the magic happens.
People are craving transformation in their lives, and being able to master something interesting is how they do that. If they could do that on their own by reading a book, they would, but that isn’t always the case. That’s why they pull out their credit card and pay for courses and communities. People will pay a premium for being a part of courses or communities that master something interesting or important together in pursuit of results or transformation in people’s lives.
- What was your first step into entrepreneurship like?
Gina passionately believes that it’s as simple as taking on one or two new risks every week. If you can take one or two new risks each day, you will progress more quickly than you would believe is possible.
The role of curator and community builder and designer is going to become more important to people’s ability to create passive income. You will be providing them another source of value in the connections they are able to make and the journey they’re on to mastering something interesting.
When Gina got started with Mighty Networks, it was just about getting to the point where they had a product that delivered what they promised to the community creators. Now it’s about being on the journey with creators and mastering the ability to create new connections.
Once Gina started doing one thing she was afraid of each day, she noticed that momentum was building in her life. Now she always looks for the things that she’s afraid of and just does them right away. We often spend time planning the perfect party instead of just having a party and dealing with what happens.
- Would this work with a physical product or service?
The idea of a network does work with physical products or services, but it does have to have some element of education or information to it. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking that they really wanted to meet other Coca Cola drinkers, but if you’re talking about making Coca Cola together you’re on to something.
Events and memberships in real life can be very powerful as long as it’s still centered around the idea of mastering something interesting together.
- Have creators been using your service in the way you thought?
The way the information market works most of the time is with a number of tools and trying to get them all working together. Creators often contort their business so that Facebook is the central pillar and everything else revolves around that, but there are so many better ways to build a business.
By putting people and content together in one place, you create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. In the beginning, online courses weren’t part of the plan and many of the features actually come from suggestions from Mighty Network users. The platform as it exists today has been co-created with the very people that use the software.
Being an entrepreneur and business owner means there is always another level and a next step to get better at what you’re doing.
- The Downsides of Facebook
Facebook was not built for people to master something interesting together, it was built to keep you there as long as possible which is why so much of the content is based on outrage. Facebook’s interaction model is the equivalent of going to a retreat to focus on the things that you care about in the middle of Times Square.
You also never get a holistic sense of the groups that you are a part of. They are designed for broad interests with a light touch. Facebook groups are terrible for someone who has paid money because they can’t get a certain result on their own to actually meet the promise of the transformation.
As a group admin, only 3% of the group will even see your posts. The real tragedy of a Facebook group is that people will not be able to really get to know each other. In an age of isolation, the power of creators is in bringing people together and facilitating relationships with one another.
- Gina’s Takeaway
The number one thing is that if you found anything Gina talked about interesting is to join the Community Design Masterclass. Experience the community and see what it means to be part of the journey to mastering something interesting together. Every single online course that is successful is built around the community first. Remember that the guru’s are not always right. When you put people first and experiment, you can achieve incredible things.