How to Improve User Retention and Build a Successful Community: Lessons from Strava and Glasp



Jul 14, 20233 min read


How to Improve User Retention and Build a Successful Community: Lessons from Strava and Glasp

Retention plays a crucial role in the success of any business, especially in the times of COVID-19. It is about building and deepening habits, and understanding the science behind habit-building is essential. Retention should focus on usage rather than revenue, as revenue retention is an output of usage. To improve retention, it is important to identify and enhance the core inputs: Activation, Engagement, and Resurrection.

One company that has excelled in user retention is Strava, an app that adds a million new users every 40 days. The secret to their success lies in their strong sense of community. People don't just download Strava; they join Strava. This sense of belonging has been instrumental in keeping users engaged and active on the platform.

Strava's CEO emphasizes the importance of having a North Star, a clear mission that guides the company's decisions. By keeping things simple and making choices about what not to include in the app, they have been able to stay focused on their core offerings. This discipline is crucial for building a product or service that people truly love.

One interesting aspect of Strava is their proof of work in public. The phrase "If it's not on Strava, it didn't happen" highlights the desire for users to showcase their achievements and be recognized by the community. This concept of public validation can be applied to other platforms, such as Glasp, a potential home for active learning.

Glasp, like Strava, aims to create a strong sense of community and become the go-to platform for active learning. By providing a space for individuals to track their learning progress and share their accomplishments, Glasp could potentially replicate the success of Strava in the education sector.

Building a product that the founders themselves use and care about is another valuable lesson from Strava. The CEO mentions his own habit of tracking his improvement through regular exercise. This personal connection to the product can drive passion and dedication, ultimately leading to a better user experience.

While Strava has not yet achieved profitability, their focus is on growing and engaging their community of athletes. This approach creates opportunities for the company to build a solid business model in the future. Similarly, Glasp should prioritize community engagement and user satisfaction before solely focusing on profitability.

To improve user retention and build a successful community, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

1. Invest in understanding how the usage of your customer base has changed or is changing due to external factors like COVID-19. By identifying these changes, you can adapt your offerings to meet the evolving needs of your users.

2. Pay attention to the habits of your customer base. Analyze how their habits have shifted and anticipate how they might change in the future. This foresight will enable you to make informed decisions about product development and engagement strategies.

3. Choose one of the core inputs of retention - Activation, Engagement, or Resurrection - and invest resources to improve it. By focusing on enhancing one aspect, you can positively impact overall retention rates and create a more engaged user base.

In conclusion, user retention is a vital aspect of business success, and companies like Strava and potentially Glasp have demonstrated the power of building a strong community. By understanding the science of habit-building, staying true to your mission, and prioritizing user engagement, you can create a lasting and impactful company. Remember to adapt to changing circumstances, pay attention to user habits, and invest in improving core retention inputs to drive long-term success.


  1. "Retention in the Times of COVID-19 — Reforge", (Glasp)
  2. "Strava success: why the app adds a million new users every 40 days", (Glasp)

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