Build Your Own Network Capital: The NC Community Fellowship

The Network Capital Community Building Fellowship

Hi there,

I am Utkarsh, the founder of Network Capital. Building Network Capital helped me discover my purpose and propelled me in ways I could not have imagined. You may have read my Harvard Business Review article “Should You Choose Your Passion Over a Paycheck?” where I talk about leaving Microsoft - a job I loved - to pursue community building full time. Yes, in the middle of the pandemic.

Microsoft, Category of One, Power of Community within Large Companies

Microsoft was the first job I took after graduating from INSEAD and it was a phenomenal learning experience. I got a chance to help out Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on a few projects and collaborate with Microsoft President Jean-Philippe Courtois. (watch his Network Capital Masterclass).

When you work closely with people, deep professional relationships are a natural byproduct. I was 25 at the time and it was deeply energizing to learn from the very best at high-stake games. You may wonder how a 25 year old got such opportunities…

There were three reasons why my Microsoft adventure turned out to be memorable.

First, I never tried to compete with anyone. I built my category of one. You can read about it in HBR.

Second, I made contributing to others my core value, especially those way outside the scope of my job. I looked where others don’t and found ways to serve in interesting ways. Now I have a term for it — contribution capital. It is the essence of everything we do at Network Capital.

Third and most important, I built a community - within and outside Microsoft. This took a while but turned out to be the most important thing I did. Building a community helped me bring fresh perspectives to projects, find ways to solve problems when things seemed impossible and develop partnerships that redefined the contours of work.

Early Days at Network Capital

I started Network Capital with a simple idea that every single person in the world has something to learn and something to teach. All we needed was a community with the right culture to enable skill sharing at scale. The first step of Network Capital stemmed from my inability to speak to every person who reached out to me for career advice. I had a busy full time job and the demand for my time was way more than I could manage.

So what did I do? I build a micro-network of mentors who were basically my friends with 3 key defining aspects

  • They were givers

  • They were doing interesting things in life

  • They knew how to give specific advice

In the Network Capital community building fellowship, I will teach you how to build your first micro-network. It is both art and science. If you get this step wrong, you can’t build a community.

Imitation is Flattery

From the very beginning, we have used a certain kind of language, emphasized our core values and been open about our metrics. From the beginning, we had clones of Network Capital. Basically people copying our language, trying to poach our members, imitating our logos etc. Imitation is flattery and I have no specific comment on copying/mimicking.

What I will tell you is that almost all the Network Capital clones shut down in 2-6 months. Some are still staggering along. I wish them well. The reason why imitation doesn’t work for communities is that communities need a deep sense of purpose. Unless you can answer why should you exist, you won’t. It is just a matter of time.

You need to learn to transcend competition through authenticity. You will NEVER beat Network Capital imitating Network Capital. However, you can build a community that becomes even more impactful if your sense of purpose is deeper than what is hot right now.

In the community building fellowship, I will share how you can do the following:

  1. Document and evangelize your community’s sense of purpose.

  2. Build a shared language within your community. Remember our phrase “democratizing inspiration”? It worked wonders for us. Still does. I have used it in my TED talk, my book, HBR work, my World Economic Forum articles.

Scale without Sales

Network Capital has spent a grand total of 0$ on sales and marketing. Nothing at all. We now have 100,000+ verified members and a long waiting list. In the NC Community Building Fellowship, I will share how to scale without sales. Every community doesn’t need to be large. Whatever your aspiration, there are specific ways to reach your target audience without emptying your pocket. You just need to know who your true fan is and understand her need as well as she does, perhaps even more.

I will explain how to do that by drawing upon principles of ethnographic research. Promise it won’t be nerdy. You will have fun learning it. :)

Network Capital Today

As our Personal Branding Fellowship Faculty Dilip Cherian explained, your recall value is your brand. The story that comes to people’s mind when they think of you is your brand.

Today when most people think of community, Network Capital is among the first few that come to mind. Some interesting stats

  • 100,000+ verified members

  • Active in 100+ countries, all major cities in the world

  • 50% women

  • Thousands of paying subscribers

  • 0 ads

  • 0 spend on sales or marketing

  • Featured on TED, World Economic Forum, Mint, Harvard Business Review

Fun fact: I have only been doing Network Capital full time for 4 months. My last day at Microsoft was September 30. :)

I am passionate about sharing the nuances of community building because CAAS (community as a service is the future of everything). I look forward to working with you to help you build your own Network Capital.

Enroll for the Fellowship



on behalf of your Network Capital team

⚡️If you are new to Network Capital, start by going through our most popular - masterclass (Career Principles with Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller); newsletter(Writing Fast and Slow); and podcast (The art of writing with Dr. Shashi Tharoor)

🔮 As a subscriber you get access to ALL masterclassespodcastsnewslettersfellowships and 1:1 mentoring sessions

💝 Connect and network with other Network Capital members here. You can sign up for a networking session and our serendipity tool here.

🗣 Sign ups are open for the Product Management Fellowship

💞 If you need an invite to Clubhouse or Lunchclub, let and know. You can also reach out to them for feedback, suggestions, doubts and any help navigating the Network Capital ecosystem.