Community Builders: An Interview with Edu Giansante
Ed Giansante is an expert community builder and the founder and CEO of E-Dublin - the largest channel of information for Brazilian ex-pats based in Europe. Since its launch in 2008, E-Dublin has helped millions of Brazilians searching for information about studies abroad.
Panion: Hello Edu! Thanks for joining us today! Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
Ed Giansante: Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I had ups and downs from the time my parents got divorced as a teenager. I’ve been working since I was 14 when I started selling fish at 4 am before going to school!
I started my degree in digital design and got an internship at Intel. I then found out that without English, I’d be quite limited in my career so I decided to move to Ireland in 2007 to learn the language. I had no money, so 2007 was the year to earn some savings with additional side jobs and freelance work to have enough to move abroad.
Fast forward to 2020, I built a lot of knowledge in the community industry and have been awarded as the Community Professional of the Year at the CMX Awards. I’m focused on leading E-Dublin and its continuous growth and delivery of delightful experiences to expats.
My work includes the creation of inspirational and informative content, video production, social media strategy, events planning, product management, people management, and continuous improvement even if through marginal gains.
P: Fish sales at 4 am to content creation? Wow! Can you tell me about the E-Dublin community?
E: We’re a community of Brazilian expats. Our core is Ireland but people move from Ireland to other countries, some find that most of the information can be helpful regardless of their destination so they join us. Most of the meetups and other events are led by the community itself.
P: How did you end up founding E-Dublin? What inspired you to create this community?
E: I was solving a problem that I had. There was absolutely no information about Ireland in Portuguese back in 2007 when I was doing my research. I then started a blog (called E-Dublin) to add all the info I was finding and keep it as a live catalog/wiki.
Things started to grow organically and Ireland is now one of the top 3 destinations for Brazilians looking to work and study abroad. Some blame E-Dublin for such growth to the top charts. Haha.
P: Why is community important?
E: When you’re abroad, you are vulnerable. You need emotional support, an escape valve, and the better you can prep yourself and surround yourself with likeminded people, the higher the chances are that you’re gonna do well and stay sane.
P: What makes your community unique and special and what are the benefits of belonging?
E: We started when there was no community. I was figuring things out and people were having similar problems and we started to jointly find out solutions. We stuck together. We laughed and cried together as a community. It’s like a friendship at scale.
People who met in our community got married, became best friends, hired, and recommended each other for jobs. That’s more than a selling proposition, it’s a sense of belonging.
P: What are some of the challenges people face when building a community?
E: Patience and time. If you wanna grow a tree, it won’t grow faster if you put more water. If you wanna build a 6-pack working out, you won’t get your 6-pack because you worked out for 10 hours a day in 1 week. You’ll get fit and build a 6-pack if you continuously work out for months and look after your diet, sleep, and so on.
We’re in a culture of immediatism and building a community is not. Building a Q&A forum or implementing a platform, maybe. But don’t call it a community.
P: What are your 3 top tips for people trying to build a community?
E: Patience, deliver a lot of value every day, even if no one is “liking or commenting”, and have patience. A Michelin star restaurant is a Michelin star restaurant because it delivers quality with consistency. Not one or the other.
P: How do you see the future of community building in the context of changing technology and the “new normal”?
E: Our gatherings are becoming virtual. We are heavily dependent on technology for everything-- from contactless payment up to distance education. Everything involves technology. It doesn’t mean I need a community to support certain technology. I wouldn’t join a Netflix community, but I could join a "Peaky Blinders" fan community.
P: What are some of your passions and interests?
E: God, my dog, good food, music, mountains, beach, sports, content creation. All of these inspire me both personally and professionally.
Ed's work has been recognized many times globally, including being awarded 4x as the Best Blog Abroad. While building his side hustle, Ed has worked for many multinational companies including Intel, Zynga, and Dropbox, where he led global community operations and ambassadors programs for over +10 years.