On-demand business coaching platform

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Challenge

We met Ed in February 2017. Having huge experience in product management Ed decided to run an experiment and implement an MVP solution for one of his ideas.

Every entrepreneur knows that the best way to obtain good advice is to ask an expert in that area who has already done what you are looking for. And these days the best way to reach out to such people is through common friends. Usually, you need to ask a common friend to introduce you and then feeling a little bit awkward ask that person to allocate 30 minutes of their time to talk with you. What if that person is not interested in helping you? Would you feel like you owe something to that person if they agree to help you?

The idea was to connect entrepreneurs that are looking for advice with experienced individuals from different areas. The goal of the project was to eliminate any friction and awkward moments when asking for help. Ed assumed that if entrepreneurs knew beforehand that the person they are trying to reach is interested in helping others, they would pay for the person’s time. From another hand, there could be many experienced in specific areas individuals that could allocate their time to share their knowledge and earn some money in exchange.

Approach

To validate the idea, Ed decided to implement a web application. For the first version, we decided to focus heavily on startups and IT businesses in Toronto. The reason was pretty simple: Ed had an extensive background in product management and developed a professional network in Toronto.

We made an assumption, that entrepreneurs would be looking for different types of advice depending on their current stage. A typical startup evolution looks like the following: Idea -> Design phase -> Prototype -> MVP, so Ed decided to visualize it when listing available experts:

Users are able to see the background of consultants listed as well as a symbolic price for their time. It is pretty easy to send a booking request:

Toronto experts - book an expert

We created a simple admin panel to manage booking requests:

As soon as a booking request gets approved the user receives an email notification with a link for payment:

Toronto experts - emal notification

After the user pays, they receive a calendar invitation with a link to join into a video call with the consultant they requested advice from. We use Google Calendar in order to visualize all the events created by the application for both the admin user and participants.

For video calls, we decided to use Google Hangouts because it doesn’t require to install 3rd-party software and it’s free to use.

Results

The application is up and running on torontostartup.ca.

After the concept testing the idea didn’t get expected traction and had been put on hold for a while. We work closely with Ed to evaluate alternative ways to develop the product further.

Tech stack

  • Ruby on Rails
  • React.js
  • Postgres
  • Stripe
  • Google Hangouts API
  • Google Calendar API

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