Birthday and new instudies
About a year ago, our team announced the launch of a new educational project designed to become an indispensable assistant for every student. Since then, instudies has changed a lot and we are not able to look without a smile at the first version of the service :) However, even that raw product fell to many hubs, who formed the first nucleolus of users, to their liking. Today we want to talk about what we went through in the development of the project for the previous year and what it is like to do an educational startup.
Facts In Brief
• September 2011 - version 1.0 of the service has been launched ;
• November 2011 - we presented the project in Silicon Valley ;
• January 2012 - the project attracts business angel investments ;
• March 2012 - version 2.0 of the service was launched (the design was changed, full refactoring was carried out);
• June 2012 - September 2012 - development of a completely new version 3.0
Spring was drawing to a close, and with it the school year. This meant that we had time to do our best to improve the service.
The main problem of the service at that time was the existing concept: after registration, the user needed to either create or join a closed training group, whose name needed to be known. I think that it was at this moment that we lost most of the users and attention to our service. In addition, an unregistered user in no way could look “inside” the service, that is, see what expects him after registration. We were also not comfortable with the fact that the user does not see anything further than his group.
In the end, it was decided to expand the visible boundaries within the service itself, putting the user, not the group, in the center of everything. Simply put - we started to think about how to socialize the service. Three summer months were ahead of us, and we planned to release the new instudies 3.0 on September 3, right at the beginning of the school year. To do this, we even rented an office space, from which we are now writing these lines.
June.All of June we spent discussing the future version of the product, or rather, what new features it should include. The difficulty was that all members of the team + investor should agree on a common opinion. Sometimes there was a feeling that the days were passing by in vain, while it was impossible to speed up this process, and it was pointless to sit down to develop an indefinite concept. By the end of the month, we had a huge bunch of ideas, some tasks began to be distributed, but we were not able to cope with such volumes of information on our own. Fortunately, it was at this time that a project management specialist appeared on the team. With its help, in just a few days, we decided on the methods for distributing tasks, raked all the rubble and prescribed the necessary stages of work.
July.Finally managed to start developing a new version. The first thing, as before, was a design that we decided not to change and leave the spirit of the second version of the service. However, fate had its own plans in this regard, and one of the sleepless nights, our web designer completely shoveled the existing design. In the end, we got a qualitatively new result, while losing the previous two weeks of time. By this time, our main and only programmer at that time, waved to us and went to conquer Elbrus. For the rest of the month, we designed and layout layouts, so that by the time the developer arrives, we have a lot of work for him :)
August.The work began to boil in all respects. There was only a month left before the launch, while not all layouts were drawn, not all were made up and practically nothing was programmed. It was August that showed us what a team capable of doing so in such a short time can do. The code was written in the airport lounges, on the train to Odessa (we went to a business meeting), while waiting in line for a shower in the hostel where we lived. Nobody needed to be motivated, and all that was missing was a couple of extra hours in a day.
Having gone on business to Odessa, our friends joined us. Unfortunately, we spent only a few hours at sea.
September 3rd. We did not start :)
September 17th. Being late for 2 weeks, adding all the necessary functionality and fixing 194 caught bugs, we finally started!
New instudies 3.0
What has changed in the project itself?
1. Naturally, the new design of the interface, the main page and the site tour.
2. It has become possible to create study groups or communities of interest , while making them open or closed.
3. At the center of the service was the user. Now you can add each other as friends, subscribe to specific users, subscribe and join the necessary groups. In this case, all information will be concentrated in the User Activity Stream .
4. Public blogs are open , where any user can optionally write a post and share his unique experience or knowledge with others.
5. When creating a group, you can select only the necessary Tools (for example, only homework and notes, excluding everything else). However, if necessary, the group settings, of course, change.
6. The “Group E-mail” tool has appeared (each group receives an address of the type firstname.lastname@example.org , to which teachers can send assignments or materials). All letters are displayed directly in the service interface, and participants can discuss them in the comments if they wish.
Thus, now our service can be fully used not only by schoolchildren and students, but also teachers with tutors. That is, the service can be configured in such a way that it fits almost any educational need.
At the moment, the work does not stop for a second. We are working hard to make student tools flawless. That is why we will be happy to listen to any ideas for improving the service, as well as suggestions for possible cooperation.
PS And we also interview people who study abroad and publish them in the appropriate category .
PPS Secret link that will show what the main page of instudies 1.0 looked like :)