Zachary Burkes is the co-founder of Gatekeeper Innovation. They are the makers of Safer Lock, a four-digit combination locking cap for prescription bottles designed to prevent prescription drug abuse among children and teens. His experience lies within government relations, lobbying and legislative language. However, due to his role with his company and this product, he has learned a great deal about retail marketing, sales processes with big box retailers, branding and consumer product launch. Follow him at
Grow Your Local Community Together
Based on my own experience, building a strong community has been vital to my success and many others around me. I consider myself lucky to be a part of a group of great entrepreneurs pushing to grow Sacramento as a community for entrepreneurship and innovation. Sacramento is still young, new and slightly disjointed, with many suburban hubs surrounding the downtown area — but there has been a concerted effort to build a community and get people interacting, building and growing together.
Enable Your Customers to Feel Involved
In this sense, I think what differentiates a community from a list of customers is enabling your customers to feel involved. Customers have endless options available; what you do to separate yourself as a community will hopefully drive customer retention and growth. Those who feel as though they are a part of a community and something bigger than themselves will reward you with their loyalty and business.
Make Everyone Feel Heard
We go to great lengths to build a community at our company and be a part of the bigger community here in Sacramento. However, in the sense of a community for your customers, my No. 1 tip would be engaging and listening to their feedback. As I mentioned above, it is important for not only employees, but also for customers, to feel heard.
Know What Matters to People
It is imperative to keep in mind what matters most to those in your ever-growing or large community. A community thrives on involvement from all parties, ownership by those involved and engagement on issues that matter to each individual.
Ensure the Quality of Your Community
While there is something to be said about having a large community, I think what separates the communities that are actively engaged and making meaningful strides in important areas are the people behind them. It is not always quantity, but rather the quality of individuals involved.
Leverage the Relationships You’ve Built
Through the many relationships I have forged in my community I have been able to take an idea to product, launch that product and build revenue by actively engaging with those around me and by getting their feedback.
We were incredibly fortunate to be connected with many major companies when we first started out. These connections happened through those who wanted to build the community around themselves.
Learn From Existing Communities
There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Read and learn from those communities that have been successful. Take where they succeeded and omit where they failed.
Provide Value First
I try to provide value to all of communities I’m involved in, and ask how I may be able to assist others who are involved before I seek anything in return.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.