Case Studies

When an idea may fail… – Business Strategy for Schoolio

business strategy

A business without research is like a home without windows. It may work but it’s much better to do a good job right away than to do everything again after a few months. Fortunately, the Schoolio team knows that solid research is the foundation of business, so they came to us with a request to develop a strategy for their product from the education industry.

From the following case study you will learn:

  • Why it is worth doing research;
  • How to validate a business idea;
  • How to validate a proto-persona;
  • Why it is worth analyzing competitors’ activities;
  • What is important when designing a business strategy.
Client
Schoolio; education industry, e-learning
Goal
Development of a simplified business strategy
Cooperation period
July-August 2019
Number of sprints:
2
Number of people in the project:
2

Project context

Schoolio is an educational portal for school children, the core curriculum in the modern form of animated films, quizzes and games. It was founded by Kamil and Krzysztof, two young and ambitious entrepreneurs who have experience in working with children and youth.

The platform design is at the initial stage of development, which is why our task was to develop a simplified business strategy, including validation of the business idea itself.

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    Problems and challenges faced by the client:

    • No validated persona (end user and shopping persona);
    • The need to develop business strategies that will help build the Schoolio brand;
    • The need to establish a business model.

    Cooperation process

    We had 2.5 weeks during which we wanted to conduct:

    business strategy

    Sprint 1: Workshops and research

    Workshops

    We started our cooperation with several hours of workshops with the founders of Schoolio. During such a meeting, we are able to get to know our clients, their goals and their business idea.

    During these kick-off workshops we used 2 tools.

    Team Canvas, thanks to which we obtained knowledge:

    • Of everyone involved in the project, including subcontractors;
    • About goals that accompany the founders in creating Schoolio and the goals of our cooperation;
    • Of values of Kamil and Krzysztof that affect the development of this business.

    Lean Canvas, which allowed us to learn more about such business elements as:

    • Problem-solution fit;
    • Customer segment;
    • Communication channels.

    The biggest challenge was to define the Schoolio persona.

    The case was so complicated that there were at least 3 personas that we had to consider

    business strategy

    We have determined that the above are actually proto-personas because we still need to validate whether they are suitable for this project. Defining these proto-personas was based on assumptions, not knowledge. We took care of this task during the remaining days of sprint 1.

    Research

    During the research stage, we would like to talk to two groups – children and parents, and more specifically mothers. We have designated the most specific proto-personas. Now was the time to validate our hypotheses.

    We conducted in-depth interviews with both groups. We used various methods of conducting interviews.

    In-depth interviews with children

    We conducted research with children using Messenger. Why?

    There are several reasons:

    • Fast written communication, i.e. chat, is more native (than a telephone conversation) for children, especially with the elderly;
    • It is easier for children to write the truth on a messenger than to tell a stranger face to face what they think. The results were more honest and open than in a personal interview;
    • It was also time effective because we simply could write with several people at the same time;
    • We had ready and written notes from each conversation 🙂

    More about research and designing applications for the generation Z, our Joanna Ostafin.

    business strategy

    The research results were very interesting and extremely important for Schoolio. It turned out, among other things, that the group we were studying (children who are engaged in extra-curricular activities outside school, e.g. sports) had a different motivation to learn than we expected. Children focused more on “good grades” and “parental satisfaction” rather than conscious education and self-development.

    business strategy
    The “Antipersona” Schoolio we studied

    In-depth interviews with mothers

    We talked with mothers by phone or video conferencing.

    The most important issue was the problem that mothers struggle with. In fact, which they do not struggle with.

    From the research (with our specific target group) it came to our attention that mothers do not have a problem with learning together with a child who does not go as it should (these were Schoolio hypotheses). It turned out that mothers generally do not study with their children because their children learn on their own.

    The above two negative hypothesis validations were groundbreaking for the whole process. Schoolio did not have a problem-solution fit (for both children and parents).

    In addition to problem-solution fit validation, we have gained knowledge about the media they use, shopping habits, and the use of external educational platforms.

    Sprint 2: Competition analysis

    During the process, we also analyzed the competition of Schoolio, namely 5 different companies / projects that deal with the same or similar topics (e.g. having the same target group). The conclusions of this analysis were as key as the conclusions of the study.

    business strategy
    This is what table with the competition analysis looks like

    After analysis, it turned out that the competition is very strong. They’ve already created a lot of material that is similar to what Schoolio wanted to develop. In addition, creating animations is a relatively expensive undertaking, which means that Schoolio would not only be exposed to high costs, but also would be far behind when it comes to created content.

    In addition to resources in the form of educational materials, it turned out that competition projects also have a large crowd of followers. Large enough that it would be hard to break through.

    Not only the problem-solution fit was missing, but also UVP (Unique Value Proposition).

    Competitive companies also had large capital – most often in the form of funding from investors or mother companies, many times from abroad. This means as much as the large budgets they spent on promotion, even as costly and “quantitative” as TV commercials. This is another large wall on Schoolio’s path to a favorable market position.

    Additional activities

    We faced a big challenge. We were initially to develop a business strategy for a product from the education industry. It turned out that the business idea in this particular form did not have a business impact on the market. The Schoolio project may just not have work out.

    We decided that we will not continue the process of developing a business strategy – it would only be an additional cost for the customer.. To provide as much value as possible, we talked with the founders of Schoolio and agreed that instead of a business strategy, we will pre-analyze and propose several other solutions that:

    • Are tailored to the audience that Schoolio assumed;
    • Have business potential, match the vision of Schoolio, but have a different target group.

    That’s what we did 🙂 We’ve developed 6 specific business ideas that Schoolio can start implementing.

    Summary of activities

    3

    channels used to conduct in-depth interviews

    5

    competitive projects analyzed

    6

    recommended business ideas

    What’s next

    After our actions, the owners of Schoolio stopped the process of creating costly animations. They thought again the whole project and its future through.

    From November 2019, Kamil and Krzysztof resumed activity of Schoolio, in a new educational format – YouTube channel (to which we kindly invite you!). In a form accessible to the viewer, Schoolio educates, e.g, in topics related to mathematics.

    Schoolio founders deserve big congratulations and thanks from us. We very much appreciate the business maturity of both men, openness to changes and willingness to test new solutions. May there be more entrepreneurs such as Krzysztof and Kamil!

    Recommendation

    The best about the effects of our actions can be commented by client himself 🙂

    We worked with Project: People at the very beginning of our project Schoolio – educational portal. We went a very nice way, thanks to which we saved a lot of money and time on things that were not effective for our business. Grzegorz and Beata were deeply committed to squeezing the maximum potential out of our business. First of all, they made us aware of key mistakes for business, thanks to which we changed the form of our company and based on many of their guidelines we are building Schoolio in a new and better formula. Thank you.

    Kamil Stepaniak, Co-Founder, Schoolio

    Tools, methods and techniques used in the project

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    Project team, i.e. who was responsible for what

    Author of the Case Study

    Grzegorz Górzyński Senior Strategist w Project: People
    Creates and helps clients develop marketing and business strategies.

    He gained experience in NGOs, corporations, startups, SMEs and agencies which gives him a holistic view of the business.. He also worked with Facebook Inc. on the Global Developer Circles project.

    He has led or participated in dozens of strategic projects.

    He provides training in marketing, social media and business idea validation. He was a speaker at Social Media Week Warsaw, BOSS Festival, PR Camp, or Crash Mondays.

    Enthusiast of Lean Startup approach, traveling and good food.

    Other members of the team

    Beata Mosór-Szyszka Co-Owner & Managing Partner w Project: People
    Beata is a serial entrepreneur, co-founder & managing partner at Project: People and Project: Values, and CEO of Hermes & Partner cooperatives. She is also an investor at ProEco Leaders foundation, co-author of The LiGHT Book (together with et al. Phillip Zimbardo, Robert Cialdini), and the author of diverse business tools (e.g. Values Poker, Lean Marketing Sprint).

    Beata is a strategist, marketer and lean consultant with over 14 years of experience in the international market. She has cooperated with companies such as Sabre, T-Mobile and Google. She shares her knowledge and experience as a mentor in acceleration programs (like EIT Digital, Google LaunchPad), and as a lecturer at Tischner European University & WSB University in Gdańsk.

    Project: People is a lean strategy agency that Beata established together with Joanna Ostafin in 2016. The company gained more than 160 clients from 16 countries in just 4 years (2016-2020), has 18 people on board, and achieves impressive growth of 200% Y2Y.

    Beata built the females-first organizations, where ~60-75% of team members are women. She is also open to investing in the female businesses with a vision.

    As a speaker, Beata performs at Polish and international conferences (e.g. Lean Startup Days Paris, VC night by Viva Technology, Open Living Lab, Product Marketing Summit London).