Fandom at HubSpot’s INBOUND Conference

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

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INBOUNDMore than 11,000 fans gathered in Boston for the annual HubSpot INBOUND conference in early September with another 100,000 participating virtually. I love that my friends at HubSpot have created a true Fanocracy, a community of like-minded people who are eager to travel from all over the world to be a part of something great.

From the moment I walked into this year’s event, the fandom was obvious.

There were several dozen people lined up to have a photo taken at the large INBOUND logo in the event’s Community Hub. I was eager to get mine too. Imagine that! People waiting twenty minutes or more to get a photo of an event logo to share on social media. Does that happen at your company?

Importantly, the INBOUND conference is not just for customers. The event welcomes anybody who wants to attend.

This open attitude is why there are now has 3.2 million people in the HubSpot community, people who learn from HubSpot content like the free online courses offered at HubSpot Academy, as well as content on HubSpot’s blogs, podcast network, and more.

Building company culture as a product

IMG_6496From the beginning, HubSpot co-founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan focused on building a company culture that people will love.

The HubSpot fandom culture was baked into the company from the beginning. Unlike most organizations, HubSpot doesn’t just sell products. Instead, the company delivers something much more, an environment where everybody—employees, partners, customers, and fans—gather to learn and grow.

Popular podcaster Guy Raz interviewed Brian and Dharmesh at INBOUND 2023 on their nonlinear journey building and scaling HubSpot. A big focus for them was building company culture.

“I treated creating our culture like an engineering project, and we still treat culture like a product.” - Dharmesh Shah

“If you can build a terrific culture that is unique from your competitors, it is like a magnet to your employees.” - Brian Halligan

This focus on culture means that HubSpot attracts top talent, people who HubSpot’s customers love to work with.

IMG_6505“I have yet to meet someone for whom meeting a HubSpot person did not make them more likely to buy our product or more likely to attend HubSpot user group or more likely to come to our INBOUND conference,” Katie Burke, the Chief People Officer at HubSpot told me. “That's a sign we're doing something right. And we hear time and time again that one of the reasons people bet on us is our people. They believe that the professional that they dealt with as part of their sales process was highly consultative and helpful. I have never worked at a software company besides HubSpot where someone has said I absolutely love my sales rep and I want to stay in touch with them. That’s a point of pride.”

As a HubSpot advisor since 2007, I’ve seen the company grow from a small handful of employees and $250,000 in revenue to a New York Stock Exchange listed company with 184,000 customers in more than 120 countries and revenue expected to be more than $2 billion in 2023.

Much of that success comes from the HubSpot culture of building fans.

Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans