Why Focusing on Micro-communities Can Unlock Business Growth

Advice from Jason Ash, co-founder of circular economy app, YoungPlanet


Jason launched YoungPlanet – a circular economy app which relies on a two-sided marketplace – in 2019 and has grown its user base by over 400% in the last 18 months. Below, Jason explains how a focus on micro-communities can unlock major growth.

Founders are often quick to dive into national markets before taking the time to fully develop a business model that can withstand operating on a large-scale. A more sustainable way to scale is to focus on smaller, concentrated markets. Enter micro-communities: mini markets that can proportionately represent your wider target audience and function as sounding boards for your objectives and plans. If your business or service can thrive in this environment, you can be more confident when it comes to scaling up to national – and even international – markets.

Here’s how and why micro-communities can be the key to growth:


You can gain valuable consumer insight


A focus on a niche or concentrated area of the market will allow you to tailor your product or service to suit the direct needs of your target audience. Conducting market research on smaller, more manageable groups of people can help you to accurately gauge your company’s success across a range of areas, and explicitly highlight how you can streamline your strategy. Developing a strong rapport with members of micro-communities will also encourage honest exchanges and fresh takes on a range of areas, from your app UX to your communications.

We developed our platform in Hackney due to its diverse culture and its focus on community initiatives, not to mention its prime location in such a well-connected city. We gathered feedback from parents and communities across the borough, and used their responses to refine our model. Thanks to this helpful insight, we were able to activate our app in other locations across the country, and grow our user base by over 400% in the last 18 months. As of this year, we now have 120,000 users in cities and towns across the country!




You can refine your business model


Operating within a micro-community will encourage you to go through your business model with a fine tooth comb. You’ll be able to see how your business operates within a concentrated market, and iron out any inefficiencies before they have the chance to develop into larger complications further down the line. For first-time founders, logistical issues that weren’t present during the theoretical development of your business may now become apparent. Operating in this environment effectively serves as a ‘test run’, allowing you to refine a scalable strategy that can then be implemented in other micro-communities across the country.


You can access sources of influence


Focusing on families and communities in Hackney enabled us to spread our roots across other locations in London – and we’re now used by 10% of all households with children in original London boroughs. Building a positive rapport with micro-communities can also enable you to utilise existing networks. This can unlock the knowledge of and access to physical and digital communities, such as Facebook and Whatsapp groups, or local events and societies. Through this strategy, these early adopters can become ambassadors of your company, helping to advertise and grow your business through word of mouth. This can create the reviews and positive feedback needed to create a solid foundation for national expansion.