Studytracks is an ed-tech startup that creates original music in a contemporary rap style with lyrics that cover curriculum subjects. The tracks are streamed in an app which also has quizzes to test students’ understanding and retention.
The existing app had been built by an agency and there was no in-house product or engineering team
Following seed-funding and six months of trying to hire a full-time product or development lead, I was introduced to Studytracks by one of their investors with the aim of getting product development moving. Founded in 2015 by award-winning songwriter, George, Studytracks had over 1,500 tracks and had been downloaded more than 400k times by the time I got involved.
I joined as Interim Head of Product and, together with the founders, set out to understand the biggest opportunities to quickly have impact.
My brief was to build and manage the product roadmap, get the team in place and run Product in-house…
Through a series of workshops, a review of existing user data and competitor analysis; we arrived at three key findings:
- Only 10% of sign ups returned after their first session
- Over 70% of the users were female; however, the app had been designed with George’s son in mind
- The app user experience needed to be improved
And, we reached agreement on three areas of focus for product development:
- Usability: the UX needed to be quicker, easier and more engaging to appeal to both the young, tech-savvy student audience as well as the time-poor teacher audience
- Stickiness & habit loops: repetition is key to memory and retention so the users needed to have a sense of progress when they listened to and repeated tracks, in order to motivate them to continue using the app
- Community: to leverage the positive effects of referrals on growth and retention, community-building activities would be prioritised
‘Usability’ and ‘Stickiness & habit loops’ would drive retention whilst ‘Community’ would drive growth.
What I Did
The roadmap was set up in phases. Phase 1 included the introduction of the Teacher’s App - a separate app that would allow teachers to use Studytracks in the classroom and for homework assignments.
The Teacher’s App was planned as the main revenue-driver for the business so its successful launch was crucial. We targeted the start of the next US school year for the launch. This gave us roughly four months to build a team and the product from scratch.
In the interest of speed, I engaged a partner development agency to kick off the build.
Working in two-week sprints, we launched the Teacher’s App MVP in ten weeks, in time for the start of the school year
A number of early strategic decisions were made to help maintain focus, including:
- We would build for one market first - we prioritised the US as it was the largest opportunity
- Our route to market would be via teachers, then schools and districts rather than through students
- For use in schools, the apps needed to be supported on desktop, chrome books and mobile. The MVPs were built as progressive web apps rather than native apps, to work on all devices
Highlights from my time with Studytracks include:
- Agreeing and documenting a product roadmap
- Successfully delivering Phase 1 on time and within budget
- Joining the Studytracks team to present the Product Strategy to investors
- Qualifying Studytracks as a Google for Education partner with them tweeting about the partnership to their 500k followers
Have a similar project need that you want to talk about? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I'd love to find out more.