When I joined Find Your Grind in April 2017, the founders wanted to take Mike Smith's speaking on self- and career-discovery and bottle it up into something to leave behind with eager teachers. Educators were begging Mike for ways to bring the real world into the classroom.
That's where I stepped in: to bring that vision to life.
I interviewed five students and five teachers using Jobs-to-be-done as a rough framework, just poking and prodding around the angst that everyone feels in the "what am I supposed to do with my life" space. For teachers, it was more around "how am I supposed to help these kids figure all this out".
I transcribed each interview and pulled insights into a summary report for the founders, identifying key opportunities I saw in the space. I pulled out choice quotes to support my arguments so they didn't have to read all the transcripts.
Some of the key opportunities I identified for students:
- Inspire with a Breadth of Quality Content
- Provide Real Mentorship
- Motivate Kids to Just Start (and Keep Going)
- Not Another Social Media App
- Maybe an Assessment?
Some of the key opportunities I identified for teachers:
- Simple Ready-to-go Curriculum (plug-and-play resources)
- Awesome, Relevant, Up-To-Date, Accurate Content
- System to Keep Kids Motivated
- Real Connections to Businesses and Mentors
Initial Wireframe Prototype
I used the research to inform an initial prototype that I demoed to the team remotely via video. You can play with the original Marvel prototype here.
Launching the Website
As a team, we decided to focus first on building a website full of quality career content to establish our credibility in the education space. I made typical startup decisions in choosing our technology, landing on Craft CMS to drive the (largely content-based) website while looking to our e-commerce and e-learning future. I got to work designing and coding after gathering some initial brand direction from the CEO. We were able to get the first version of the website up in a couple months.
We next turned our attention to building a digital curriculum product for high schools. I worked closely with a curriculum writer and the leaders at the company to launch the product over the next few months. We gathered a small group of pilot/beta testers to continuously give feedback on the product and publicly launched in early 2018.
In addition to the customer-facing UX, I built a complex ecommerce solution to handle the complicated purchasing flow that schools go through (requesting quotes, sending POs, mailing checks) as well as user and sub-user licensing.
I developed a design system at Find Your Grind to enable us to move quickly while maintaining design cohesiveness. The entire site was built out of versatile, adaptive, and reusable components documented in a living style guide.
While the FYG Curriculum utilized several widely available assessments or personality profiles, we knew from the beginning that we wanted to create our own to match people with our Lifestyles. I worked with our curriculum writer to craft an engaging way for our student users to start their journey on Find Your Grind.
In true startup fashion, I also wore a few other hats for Find Your Grind, including being the defacto IT guy (I wrote my first computer security policy!) and sometimes video producer/editor.
Note: I didn't handle the brand for Find Your Grind. Because we were such a small team, our creative-minded CEO took ownership of the brand, logo, and marketing.