Accelerator Diaries: EduGrowth Week 12 – Less is More

A new business is like a blank canvas, with limitless possibilities to design your ideal solution to the problem you’re tackling. With so many options available there can be a temptation to hedge your bets and tack on every feature you believe offers some value. The more things you add in, the harder your service becomes to communicate and execute on. This week was all about learning that less is more when it comes to your first version.

What we learned

One thing that has become very clear to me in my short time as a founder is that launching a new product to an uneducated market on a minuscule budget isn’t easy.

You’ve usually got 3 seconds to grab someones attention online before you lose their attention. Try explaining a completely new concept in 3 seconds? It’s not impossible, but it certainly is hard.

The seed metaphor

The seed metaphor helps explain the process of boiling down a service to its most valuable and simplistic form. When you’re new to the market, you’re extremely vulnerable. You don’t have a customer base, you’re under-resourced and you’re product is most likely less advanced than your competition.

The odds are stacked against you so how are you going to cut through and capture your first 100 customers? The answer certainly isn’t more features. It’s by finding a clear and compelling value proposition and getting that infant of some customers in any way that you can.

Like a seed you want your service to be small and strong to survive these tough early stages until it starts to sprout returns.

What’s changed for us?

Taking this understanding onboard we had a good look at our service offering. The plan was to create a complete digital marketing curriculum with links to live projects at the end.

We know that all the value is in those live projects as they’ll allow students to gain the practical experience they need before graduating. The key question is do they need a full digital marketing curriculum to perform those projects – the answer is no.

Understanding that most students are dealing with a heavy study load already, we decided that it wasn’t necessary to overload them with any more content than was completely necessary.

The Marketplace

Screenshot of live project market place for the Upstart Academy

(One of the 8 live projects in our marketplace)

The result is a marketplace for live projects in Digital Marketing. We define the structure and the learning material for 8 practical projects that students can perform. We then act as the market maker by facilitating a connection between the students and employers for each specific project.

This service boils down to the real value of our service offering – flexible and meaningful practical experience for University students = our seed of value.

The plan for next week

As I hit publish on this blog I’ve just landed in San Fransisco. Along with the other EduGrowth teams and our key partners, we’re here to attend the ASU GSV conference in Salt Lake city. ASU GSV is the largest Edtech conference of its kind and it will be a great opportunity to get infant of investors, partners and gain a glimpse of the scope of the global market.

We’re well and truly in marketing mode now as we look to get infant of as many students as we possibly can as the first semester draws to a close.