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We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.
Earlier, we have already told you about the history of EduDO and the idea of its creation, how EduDo raised investments, about its first market release and how EduDo won the “Product of the week” award at Product Hunt.
After the new release, which took place on November 15, we contacted Yury Shalaganov, the founder of EduDo, to be the first to tell you about the changes in the project.
“We have always billed ourselves as a platform with developmental content and set ourselves the goal of simplifying the process of self-development. In December 2020, we released an MVP on iOS and since then we have attracted more than 30 thousand users and 100 content creators, raised $500 000 Pre-seed investments, became the mobile app of the year according to Product Hunt, collected feedback from users, product metrics and eventually, we decided to change the direction and make a pivot", — commented Yury.
What is the essence of the update?
The goal of EduDo 2.0 remains the same but the concept will be different. If earlier we created a TikTok-style app with educational content, then now, we are creating a platform for asynchronous discussions in video format.
Why did you decide to change radically?
The growth of any platform where users generate content depends on a clear mechanics of user interaction and an answer to the question: "Why should I publish content here?". For us, it is important that users not only enter our app in search of insights, but also stay, come again and again to learn new things, learn something, share their opinions and get feedback. In other words, the ability to discuss in the most native format gives users more motivation to come to EduDo.
After the first launch, we analyzed our Retention and realized that there is potential: from those users who found value for themselves and showed it at least once with some kind of social action (like, comment, share or subscription), almost 34% remained on the platform after the first month. Such Retention is quite good for Consumer Social platforms. For example, Snapchat and TikTok equal these figures to 26% and 23%, respectively.
However, such users were a little more than 13% of the total number who entered the platform at least once. So we concluded that in order to increase the number of people who will come to us, do something and eventually stay, we need: first of all, to involve users in discussions, and secondly, to shorten the time interval between the moment when the user enters our app and the “a-ha!” moment (finding the content that will create a desire to make a social action).
It could be done in an extensive way: we focus on the user profile of those who quickly find relevant content, attract only them and in the future, stimulate them to create content for each other. However, in this way, we would limit ourselves to the upside or the opportunity for potential growth. Therefore, we chose a different path with the search for clearer mechanics of user interaction, which will not only give them clear rules of the game and more value, but also will not limit our growth.
It was decided to do two things to achieve this: to ensure a constant flow of content from users and to make it as easy as possible for them to find relevant content. In order to cope with the first task, it was necessary to offer users a crystal clear mechanism of interaction on the platform, so we chose discussions in the format of short videos as such mechanics.
Our new concept potentially solves the second problem which is finding the relevant content. Everything is very simple here: the greater the amount of content on the platform, the higher the chance that the user will find it relevant.
Every new idea must be implemented at a specific timing. It doesn't matter what kind of innovative idea you have if the market is not ready to accept it. For example, the first tablets appeared in the early 90s and nobody needed them.
If someone started making a platform based on the concept of video communication two or three years ago, it would definitely fail since people weren’t ready to film themselves every day in a daily rhythm. Now more than a billion people are filming TikToks, stories on Snapchat and Instagram, videos in messengers, thus communication through video is becoming not just a part of our life, but the mainstream. And we can ride this wave.
What is the essence of the new format?
People have always enjoyed discussing things. Now the most common format is texting or when people share opinions and discuss ideas on social networks, forums and platforms such as Reddit, Twitter, or Facebook. But the point is, text is inherently more efficient at conveying data, statistics, or facts, but not emotions. Despite the use of stickers or emoticons in the text, it is impossible to fully convey what the interlocutor feels at the moment and show his intonation.
We believe that video will be more effective for exchanging opinions, as it allows you to create an effect of presence, which generates more trust and, therefore, more fruitful discussions.
Why asynchronous discussions?
We thought about many variations of digital discussions and came to the conclusion that synchronous communication isn’t always convenient in the real world as people have a very fast life pace. Instead of making calls, we often use audio or text messages, which the interlocutor can watch or listen to when they have time. There is even such a concept as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), or syndrome of lost profit, when we constantly think that we have missed something important.
We want to save our users from this feeling and asynchronous communication will allow them to participate in discussions and receive information regardless of where they are and how much time they have. It also gives you extra time to think before answering and this also leads to more fruitful discussions.
I can’t say that we have completely changed the operative principle of the platform; it is rather a cardinal update, since we already have a user base that we really appreciate and don’t want to lose. Eventually, when entering the old version, users will be prompted to update, so that they don’t lose their data and there’s no need to register again.
To some extent, our platform will be a combination of TikTok and Reddit: after launching the app, you will dive into a feed similar to TikTok, which will offer you various discussions on topics of interest. There, you will be able to create discussions (threads), leave video comments in the threads of other people, vote for the comment or topic you like, make bookmarks, share the content and subscribe to authors.
The thread will remain in the feed while it receives new comments. They will also be sorted by engagement received from users (upvotes, saves, etc.) In order to understand which users are giving others more value, we introduce a karma system. The user receives karma for each upvote on his videos, as well as for each comment in the thread that they started. Here, motivation and a competitive spirit will also work for us since the opportunity to get different levels, ranks and get into the leaderboard will only fuel the interest of users and trigger them to be more active.
Will you lay emphasis on new topics since earlier, you were mainly focused on Wellness, Beauty & Fashion, Health, Soft Skills?
New topics will be a musthave. We analyzed our users’ interests very deeply based on the collected qualitative (user interviews) and quantitative (metrics, questionnaires) data and noticed that content about technology, space and the future involved our users several times more than other topics.
Therefore, we are now focusing on people interested in the tech field. In addition, such an audience is one of the best to attract at the start, since they have a "hunger" for new products, they understand and are ready to endure some of the flaws that are always there at the beginning, and they are also ready to give high-quality feedback.
We plan to attract them through collaboration with influencers and this isn’t only about content creators, but rather about respected personalities from the world of technology venture funds’ partners, successful entrepreneurs, community leaders, and others). We are partnering with competent field experts from major US technology hubs (Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Miami, Austin and Seattle) to accelerate the building of the “backbone” of our community.
Who are your competitors?
There is a certain specificity in the Consumer Social vertical: you are competing with all social networks and with no one at the same time. This is because social media is so complex that it’s very difficult to say what specific problem each of them solves.
The closest existing solutions in spirit and purpose are offered by discussion platforms such as Reddit and Clubhouse, Q&A platforms such as Brainly and Quora, and next-generation social networks such as TikTok and Snapchat.
It is hard to evaluate the precise volume of the market which we’re entering but it is huge for sure. It is proved by a few trends:
the demand for self-development is growing and growing rapidly: the studies show that 87% of social media users follow content authors to learn something new;
there is also a growing demand for digital discussions. Let's skip the rather well-worn example of the explosive growth of Clubhouse, since it was driven not only by the demand for discussions in new formats, but also by the exclusivity strategy, which they skillfully applied, having direct access to the stars of the tech market. The dynamics are best reflected by the growth of Reddit: the 16-year-old platform, in fact an old man in the social media market, grew by 23% in 2020 and entered the Top 3 fastest growing platforms, losing only to TikTok and Snapchat.
Are you planning to develop EduDo 2.0 for Android?
Unfortunately, not yet, since this requires resources that are now focused on more important tasks: testing the main hypothesis and searching for Product/Market Fit. Yes, we understand that the owners of Android devices (and, as a result, our plans to scale in markets where Android prevails) will have to wait a bit, so eventually, we will try to launch our application for them as soon as possible after we find a growth point and understand how to scale.
How many people are there in the EduDo team?
There are 15 people, conditionally divided into 2 areas: product/technical and marketing. The team is a bit scattered around the world, but the two main attraction centers are Minsk, where it all began, and Kyiv, where a significant part of the employees is located.
What are your future plans?
We did the soft launch (a preliminary release of a product or a service for a limited audience, a kind of rehearsal before the full launch — Startup Jedi) and have already begun to receive the first feedback from the market in search of Product/Market Fit. At the same time, we are raising the round by $500 000, which will allow us to attract more than 100 thousand users, find a Product/Market Fit and prepare for raising the big Seed round in the middle of next year.
Despite the fact that we started active fundraising only a couple weeks ago, there are already several dialogues at a fairly advanced stage and a hard commit from one of the early investors who believed in our new vision and made sure that we, as a team, are ready to implement it. Our big goal is to create a global smart community, making the exchange of opinions as intuitive as possible.
Everything is quite simple here: the main difference between a startup and a regular digital business is their goal. The only goal of a startup at early stages is to find and validate a working and scalable business model, the rest is secondary.
In the vast majority of cases, such a model isn’t found right away, so pivots are not just a normal thing, it is almost mandatory for any startup. And being afraid of change and uncertainty when you create a startup is like being afraid of water if you want to learn to swim (most likely you will, but overcoming this fear is critically important, otherwise nothing will work out).