Peoplehood, from the creators of SoulCycle, offers to help people via group sessions. Credit: Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times
In the past, we’ve used spin classes
as inspiration for Bridge. We see them as metaphors for helping retail business owners. The founders of SoulCycle, Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, must have been eavesdropping on us: they are expanding their spinning approach to another sphere. The Times reports they have started Peoplehood
, a business that seeks to help people via self-help (group-help?) sessions. It’s SoulCycle for the soul—just drop "Cycle" from the logo (so creative! ...ahem). Studies show that people in a community are happier and often perform better. SoulCycle and Peoplehood affirm what Bridge is doing: getting indie stores to work(out) together to make them happier and more successful. 'SoulCycle for retail.'
We’ve made great progress thus far. From scratch, we’ve built a network that connects 1,000 retailers, 300 reps, and 100 brands. Brands share 60,000 products with store members. We created 6,000 sync connections between retailers and a brand. Due to Bridge, stores report selling 18% more for some brands. These statistics show the power of our mantra: We > Me.
Building a community inherently means we have to accrue more users. This allows more members to see and be seen. Brands and retailers often turn to Facebook because there are so many users. Bridge’s goal is to have 10,000 stores to sharing products, communicating with each other (as they would via Facebook or Slack), and collaborating on their businesses. This is not only good for them, but it’s also good for us: this business model is stickier than Shopify’s siloed approach.
With that said, small groups can be important in creating meaningful connection. When there are too many people, it can be harder to be heard. We see this in colleges, which is why U.S. News World and Report touts smaller class sizes. In college, students may even form a studying ‘pod’ comprised of a few students. A few years ago, Facebook launched Groups with much success (...in fact, it was too successful: it started to polarize communities).
In Peoplehood, the groups have protocols that encourage respect and positivity. For example, in one exercise, a person can speak uninterrupted for three minutes. They suggest using three hand signals while another talks (snapping, placing one's hands over their heart, and raising palms to the screen).
When I think of Peoplehood's group coaching sessions, it harkens back to our Bridge happy hours in 2020. During the events, members would share stories about what they’re seeing in the market, what’s working for them, and discuss trends, and I’d share new Bridge features. Today, stores are often still alone in the pursuit of succeeding online. I wonder if Bridge stores could form pods, such as groups of six stores, that share information, tips, and experiences. In a Bridge pod, a store could share one good thing that happened during the month and even one bad. The goal of this is to let stores be inspired, as well as share problems that they face. Others in the group can provide consolation as well as potential solutions. We'd want Bridge pods to be places to listen, share, support, be heard, and problem-solve. If Bridge were to host pods, I wonder what Bridge’s hand gestures would be? (Maybe a retail gesture like someone imitating carrying a shopping bag to suggest …that Jason stop carrying on and on.)
The irony about building people-connecting businesses these days is that they often rely on lots of isolated software engineers and customer service coaches. Our Bridge team isn't connected by working in the same building, yet our software supports a burgeoning connection platform. I think our successful platform speaks to the special team we have. Team, thank you for helping us connect with each other across such distances—from Seattle to Brooklyn and many places in between. Thank you for helping us connect with each other—and helping our members connect.
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