Role: Co-founder & CEO
What the role actually meant: A mix of product management, UX/UI design, sales, business development, & more (For the context of this piece, we’ll focus on the product and design side of things)
What I did through a product-focused lens:
- Created user journeys, wireframed, created mock-ups, & created a clickable prototype in Figma
- Ran customer interviews to understand pain points and 8+ user tests to gather feedback on the design of the platform
- Defined product requirements for the MVP by prioritizing features based on interviews, user tests, student focus groups, and surveys
- Worked collaboratively with our Lead of Technology to hand-off designs and requirements for development
- Tested the MVP, built strong relationships with potential champions, and gained early interest to begin pilots.
Lumaki Labs is an EdTech startup on a mission to fill the gaps of education through experiences. Started by 3 UWaterloo engineering undergraduates during the peak of the pandemic, Lumaki Labs builds software to help companies engage early talent while levelling the playing field for students through focusing on making the most of remote work.
In it’s most simple form:
Running effective internships in a remote setting is hard.
Companies face challenges in engaging students while students find it difficult to stay connected and informed.
Looking more broadly:
75% of hiring managers do NOT feel confident that students are job-ready.
Even in normal times, employers acknowledged the gap that exists between academia and the workforce. Experiential learning opportunities like internships and co-ops are key to help solve this however, not all students have access to these opportunities and not all companies have the resources and tools to set up internship programs (especially in a remote setting).
Help employers support students in a remote setting and ultimately foster experiences that are mutually beneficial for both parties.
The Lumaki Board is a SaaS platform that enables employers to create a dedicated remote internship workspace. Designed with efficiency and scalability in mind, employers can manage and track the progress of multiple interns in multiple different roles in one space to increase connectivity and decrease ambiguity during remote internships.
Setting the stage for our design process was difficult at first however, this process simplified things as it took a very user-centric approach. This process also made it easy to go back and iterate on the product.
Defining the MVP
What started off as a long laundry list of features and assumptions, evolved into a functioning MVP (minimum viable product). Our team went through multiple customer interviews, user tests, and more to inform our product decisions and positioning. During this time I learned a lot about what an MVP actually is and decided to cut our feature list by more than 50% to ensure what we were building was as simple (yet relevant) as possible for the first version. We were able to roll out our MVP much faster which gave us more time to gather feedback from real users to inform future product decisions.
- 100% of user testers (students and employers) mentioned that the platform was “easy to use” and had a “clean design”
- Gained early interest for the Lumaki Board and landed a pilot project with ~100 users
- Students were “Extremely satisfied” with both the process of getting set up on the platform and completing tasks assigned on the platform
- Employers said they would recommend the platform to other companies and agreed the platform helped them save time while managing their intern(s)
Reflection & Key Learnings
Being able to launch my first product was an invaluable experience that taught me more than what I would have imagined. Being that this was a product for my own company and my first ‘official’ product role, I had to become very good at understanding what I do not know to be able to fill those gaps. Some of the key things I learned:
- How to find a design process that works for my team and I.
- Talk to users every step of the way. User tests and customer interviews never really stop.
- How to distinguish between what a user thinks is “nice-to-have” v.s. what they think is a “need”
- Let go. Don’t get too attached to your design or features and be able to cut down where necessary.
- How to increase communication between my team and evaluate what success looks like in a remote setting.
- How to approach the “chicken and egg” problem when creating a platform that deals with different types of users (e.g. student v.s employer)
- What it means to run a startup and the value of getting out there and creating connections.