The latest in our series asking startups to share the challenges they face and lessons they learn as they grow catches up with George Burgess, founder and c.e.o. of Gojimo.
April is a daunting month for Gojimo and indeed for anyone involved in GCSEs and A Levels. It is the ‘sweaty palms’ moment when students realise the public exams are looming and they need to knuckle down and crack on with their revision.
In some ways we are in the same boat as our customers. As a revision app, the majority of new users come to us during April and May and so this is the moment of truth - have the innovations and enhancements we spent all year working on paid off? Will we manage to attract more new users to the app?
When I presented at BookTech at the FutureBook Conference back in November 2015 we were flying high off the back of last year’s excellent user figures (one in five GCSE students used Gojimo to revise) and we were closing our latest funding round. BookTech provided us with an opportunity for review and a springboard for future development. In putting together our presentation we were able to reflect on what we had done well, and where we felt there was room for improvement. Sometimes as a start-up it is difficult to find the time and the head space to look back and make such analytical assessments, but it is essential in order to continue to drive forward successfully.
It was also around this time that we started work on our latest venture, Gojimo Tutor, which launches in mid April. Gojimo Tutor will enable students to connect with a subject specialist, initially in maths and science, via instant message, to get one-to-one help with their homework and revision. Building Gojimo Tutor has been a huge challenge because, as always, we gave ourselves an impossibly tight deadline (just three months) and there were significant logistical considerations to take account of. Nevertheless, the team pulled through, and we are very proud of the finished product!
As I write, Gojimo Tutor is currently in beta, that twilight zone between creating the minimum viable product and launching the finished article to the world. It’s my favourite part of the process, where we get to have real interaction with users and make the final refinements that we hope will give our product the edge.
User-focused product design is key and it’s at the heart of those apps and other start-ups that we admire and aspire to emulate. Apps such as RefMe and Dualingo are great examples of this, as is instant communication tool Slack which we use for all our team communications. It’s finding that sweet spot between customer need and product design that excites me, and drives us to continue to innovate our approach to mobile learning solutions.