Unlike a product, you can thoroughly test your idea for an online community before you launch it. In fact, you would be a fool not to.
You have to find out if the people you’re trying to reach want to talk to each other. If they don't, you can put a halt to the idea before you waste too much time and money. You also need to know what they like to talk about and how you can get them talking.
It's incredibly easy to test your idea. Start a simple forum or mailing list and invite a few of the people you intend to reach (if they don’t join, you need to add greater incentive to your approach).
Now make the introductions, start a few conversations, ask people for their views and see if the conversation takes off. Do people care what others think? Are you doing all the work?
Before you invest a lot of effort in creating an online community – test your idea. See if you can get a small group of 50 people to talk to each other. You shouldn’t really need permission to do this.
Most organizations are doomed early on because the people they want to talk to each other have no interest in talking to each other.