Luma Turns 1 🎈

A year ago, Luma was born as ZmURL, or “URL for Zoom.”

Like its humble name, ZmURL had a humble start. The site comprised of 3 simple pages: a homepage to paste in your Zoom invite, an event page generated from the invite, and a manage page to view the guest list. We released it after a week of coding.

Fast forward to today, hundreds of thousands of people connect through Luma events each month. We now have a talented team of designers and engineers, and have expanded beyond Zoom events to offer newsletters, memberships, and profile pages.

What happened in the last year feels both natural and unexpected to me. Natural because I’ve always been passionate about building more meaningful connections online, and unexpected because back in last April, I would have not imagined that lockdown would last for over a year, and that COVID would push so many people to doing everything online.

Building Meaningful Connections Online

The founding story of Luma is mostly virtual. Victor and I first connected over Zoom in 2018, and we had only met in person once before starting Luma. We raised our seed round entirely over Zoom, and with a team across many timezones, Victor and I remain the only two people who’ve ever met IRL.

We have both benefited from Internet’s magic of building connections, and been working on making it easier for these connections to establish and grow.

  • Melanie, an author in New York, brought thousands of people to her monthly interview series. She also meets up with her “Makers Circle” members to share inspiring stories and chat about ongoing projects.

  • Amazing Design People List, which started around the same time as Luma, grew into a community of thousands of designers worldwide who come together to offer mentorship and share experiences.

  • Pancho, a religious leader in Ecuador, mobilized his community to offer virtual tours to each other. Through these tours, his community members learned about each other’s cultures and developed international bonds.

We feel honored that Luma is helping them bring their people together. Last October, we launched Luma Maps, an interactive map for people to see where their community are in the world. I took the screenshot below at an OnDeck event. At a time when international travel is next to impossible, it’s exciting to see many global communities like it being formed online.

The Rise of Creators

It certainly seems that “creators are eating the world,” and the most successful Luma hosts can all be categorized as creators. But what does the word “creator” even mean?

To us, creators are people with talent, insight or experiences who genuinely want to share it with others. They may be artists or writers. Or they may be mentors or curators. Whatever they do, they attract others with their authenticity. Like Ben Thompson said, people follow people. We see in the creators a better version of ourselves, and we desire to connect with them and other like-minded people, to feel whole, to have shared experiences, and to grow.

Thanks to social networks, it’s now easier than ever for creators to “be seen” as much as established brands. However, anything deeper than content consumption is still difficult. In large companies, armies of people work in customer support, operations, and sales. In contrast, creators often struggle to use enterprise software and generic tools to pull their communities together.

What’s Next for Luma

We are building Luma to be the place where creators build meaningful relationships with their communities, 10x easier than before.

In our first year, we built a suite of creator tools loved by our users. We connected millions of people through virtual events, sent millions of emails, and built creators a profile for their audience to see what they have to offer.

In our second year, Luma will evolve from a single-player tool into a more interactive community space, so we can take more administrative burden off of creators, while give communities a shared space that’s safe and comfortable by default. We will have a directory for members to know each other, live spaces for them to meet synchronously, and more light-weight channels for people to keep in touch outside of live events.

We’ve come a long way since a year ago, and we are more excited than ever about the work ahead of us.

Happy birthday, Luma.