Exactly 5 years ago, I received a call from Aptify CEO, Amith Nagarajan shortly after Thanksgiving. That call sparked a conversation that eventually led me to accept an offer to head marketing for the company and introduced me to the world of associations. You see prior to that discussion, I barely knew such organizations existed and what I found was fascinating.

Rasa.ioDiving Right In

I immediately jumped head first into learning everything I could about the industry—attending events, speaking with Aptify clients, reading blogs and articles, even conducting interviews with association thought leaders for Association Mavens. It was quite an education as an industry outsider, digging into the challenges and problems facing associations. The really cool thing was that Aptify was in the midst of working with association clients on those challenges by providing empowering technologies and consulting services that ultimately helped those clients achieve success.

Aptify didn’t (and still doesn’t) see itself as just an association software vendor, but a partner who’s in it for the long haul to tackle problems with innovation solutions. This is the driving force behind what we call the Association Success family.

A New Frontier

We saw a tremendous opportunity to fundamentally rethink the concept of building online communities and revolutionizing what member engagement should look like within the digital realm. The idea of Community 2.0 was born and began to take root within the Aptify Innovations Lab. The goal wasn’t to be constrained by the notion of what an online community had been, but rather what it could be. It was an exciting proposition, but one that needed development.

Shortly after work commenced on tackling this ambitious goal—I left my role as the VP of Marketing at Aptify to pursue some personal projects. During this time I kept in touch with Amith and he’d share updates on the work being done for the project. Each subsequent conversation was more intriguing than the last as the vision became reality.

The concept moved out of the Innovations Lab into the real world via AssociationSuccess.org and it was clear to see that the future of online communities was getting closer.

So What’s Community 2.0?

The result was a new startup with a big vision for changing how associations engage their communities. That startup’s name is rasa.io and I’m honored to have recently joined the team as CEO. While we’re a separate organization, we share the same values as Aptify—namely, having an interest in seeing associations succeed.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how rasa.io is making an impact for associations when it comes to Community 2.0:

  1. Most online community platforms don’t truly engage a community, they are simply discussion boards that receive limited participation – typically 5-10% of an organization’s members will stay involved.
  2. The other 90-95% find the experience to be cumbersome and largely irrelevant simply because the 5-10% who do engage tend to ask and answer similar questions repeatedly.
  3. We combine rich, interactive and personalized content with conversation. To do this rasa.io uses cutting edge Artificial Intelligence to learn each user’s behaviors and patterns and tunes the feed of content and dialog to be most engaging for them. It truly offers a “better way” by providing a deeper experience that engages a much larger percentage of members.

I could go on and on sharing details about the technology such as our Relevancy Engine, Automatically Curated Content, AMS integrations, or even our philosophy around “open garden” online communities. However, that might be best left for another time.

Coming Full Circle

I’m personally thrilled to be back helping associations and have once again dove right in—this time taking the reigns of a small, innovative company working to move associations into a new realm of member engagement opportunities. If you’re curious to learn more about rasa.io or ask any questions about our approach to Community 2.0—feel free to email me at hello@rasa.io. I’d love to talk and discover some of the challenges you’re having related to member engagement.

 Watch the rasa.io Webinar on Making Online Communities Work in 2016