Terrain is an online learning subscription for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to transform their ideas into thriving businesses. Courses are peer-reviewed by a panel of business owners that cover topics from copywriting, content creation, and growth marketing to public speaking, Web3, and more. Terrain is supported by a community of new and experienced entrepreneurs who provide encouragement and guidance.
Eman Zabi came up with the idea for Terrain after spending nearly $20,000 on online courses. Shocked and disappointed by the poor quality experiences, she quickly learned that the most popular learning modules were not the highest quality, they just had the largest advertising budget.
“There has to better way of doing this,” Eman told me. “To succeed as a freelancer and entrepreneur, you need rock solid skills, but you also need a supportive community. I knew I could offer that.”
Eman knows the power of community first-hand. As an early professional, she was driven, but shy. A mentor once described her as the “industry’s best kept secret,” but she needed to advocate for herself.
“I used to be the most introverted person on the planet,” Eman told me. “The idea of being around other people used to just stress me out. But I worked on it and I found my community of people, and that’s when my business took off.” She knew she wanted to do the same thing for others and she knew building a supportive community had to be central to her product, not just an add-on.
From her work as a course creator, Eman knew that ~10% of online courses are ever completed. She hypothesized that focusing on quality over quantity and providing customers with support, encouragement, and a little bit of competitive fun, she could far exceed the average rate of course completion and drive members to her platform via word of mouth.
Eman started Terrain in June 2020. In the beginning, she primarily focused on building quality, peer reviewed courses and launching her course platform. But soon, she realized she needed to get word out about Terrain and engage her customers and users, so she built a community.
The Terrain community is almost exclusively freelancers and solopreneurs in their early stages. They don’t have to be paying members, but they do have to be interested in entrepreneurship. They’re not hitting six figures yet, but are actively working towards that. Eman’s goal for the community is to get 1,000 people to at least $50,000 in the next 5 to 6 years across the globe.
To support this effort, Terrain hosts many popular events like “Fail Fridays” where members are encouraged to come to the group to share their failure from that week. They also host co-working events that allow members to access virtual rooms on the Terrain campus, complete with tables and computers that give the community a chance to sit alongside fellow members.
Terrain also has a buddy system that matches members with similar levels of gravity intended to build inter-member relationships. Buddies also hold each other accountable for completing courses and continuing on their respective learning paths.
However, as Terrain and the team supporting Eman grew, it became more difficult to prioritize community actions, and keep track of member activities across channels. They needed a Community Growth Platform. That’s when Eman found Orbit on Product Hunt.
Before Orbit, Terrain manually tracked member activities. Now, Eman and her team don't need to track them at all. They're automatically recorded in each member's profile using Orbit’s built-in integrations with Slack and Twitter.
Orbit also enables Eman to set up notifications when new members are added so her team can invite them to co-working events and assign them a buddy. To help spread the word about their platform, Terrain’s workspace has tags for members with greater reach and encourages them to share about their experiences with Terrain.
Eman and the Terrain team have discovered enormous time savings with Orbit, particularly with Member Profile Merges, Member Profile Enrichment, and the Leaderboard functionality.
“I like that Orbit can merge profiles so you can see where members are in other [services] as well.” Often, members can appear on different platforms with variations in names, handles, and email addresses. Member profile merging and profile enrichment saves time identifying duplicate members and keeping their combined information and actives in a centralized profile.
Eman is taking an active approach to community growth and engagement. She incentivizes members to participate with financial rewards. For example, members can get free or discounted courses if they complete certain activities, like answering questions in community forums. Eman describes her reasoning for paying members:
“We believe that if you are creating value in our community whether you’re a paid member or a free one, you deserve to be compensated for that in some way because there is tangible value to us when people are active in the community. It attracts more people, it helps us grow, and we convert more free members to paid members. So we essentially take a percentage of our revenue and let people earn that in the form of peak points. The value of a peak point is determined by our revenue that month but also how many points are being earned in the community.”
However, Eman found it difficult to track and assign points to community members and understand which activities to incentivize. Before Orbit, Terrain manually assigned points to their community members. Now, using activity details within the member profile, Eman and her team are able to determine the number of points to award each member based on their love for the community .
Terrain also finds the leaderboard to be helpful in ranking member engagement. “It’s helpful for us to compare how the internal leaderboard versus the combined leaderboard compares, and then we’re able to go in and look for activities we can assign points to.”
By including the data from Orbit’s leaderboard, Eman has the opportunity to reward members who advocate for Terrain online.
Orbit has been the key to product and community growth for Eman and her team. In just the past five months, Terrain has grown its community from 800 to 1,500+ members and is now growing at 20% week-over-week. Eman has found her investment in the community as a key driver for scaling Terrain’s business strategy, contributing to a 200% growth in revenue.
In the future, Eman hopes to continue to use Orbit to test new avenues for growth such as using the Reddit integration to follow the member’s journey from subreddit to Terrain community member.
Currently, Terrain's community is about 60% female with an event spread across continents: Asia (31%), North America (27%), Europe (16.5%), Africa (21%), and Oceania (4.5%). Eman hopes to use her community to scale Terrain’s user base within her home market in North America and beyond. With the rapid success Terrain has seen following its investment in community with the help of Orbit, Eman sees a bright future for entrepreneurs.