Leo Zhuolan Zhang
12 weeks
Steve Blank’s Customer Development process,
Lean Start-up, quantitative research, prototyping,
usability testings
A peer-to-peer skills-exchange platform designed to create a more collaborative and conducive learning environment for students by encouraging them to help one another.
Learning & Sharing Goals
During sign-up, students will be prompted to put their learning and sharing goals.
Suggested Peers
Hatch suggests peers to students by aligning their learning goals and interests. Students are able to connect with this pre-selected group of people after.
Connect with peers who have similar learning interests
and goals.
After students have connected with one another, they can converse with their learning peers and get to know one another.
Understanding the learning behaviors of current students
Our team had spent half of the first part of class on a completely different business idea, and so we didn’t have much time left for this one.

So, we had to get scrappy in order to get the most amount of feedback and research to catch up with the class.

We posted huge posters that allowed students to write their responses around campus to gather feedback from students. We asked people what they found to be the most efficient way to learn by encouraging them to respond on the posters.

The responses aligned with our initial hunch: learning is more effective with the help of friends.
Interviews with Students
In addition to that, we also interviewed 8 students to understand their perceptions around helping their peers and the key things we learned are that:
Helping others is also a form of learning.
"Helping others is also a way for me to revise the subject and to learn again." —Tara

A few other students also mentioned that when they're helping and teaching their friends, they get a recap of what they learned, and in turn, know and understand it better.
There is hesitation in asking for help.
"I feel burdensome when I have questions because it might sound silly." —Elijah

People do not want to seem like a burden and usually only ask for help when friends who can help them are physically near them.
Gathering Sign-Ups & Concept Validating
We were also on-site to publicize about our new initiative and garner sign-ups for interested parties. We did this for about three days and 80 people signed up.
We also placed these sign-up forms and boxes around campus to get more people to sign-up. These sign-up boxes were also our way of concept validating because more sign-ups would be an indication that there is a need that we can fulfill.
Prototyping the Experience
We prototyped the whole learning exchange experience to learn what would be vital to make it fruitful for students. Out of 12 experiences that we ran, we noticed that there were 3 different types of learning exchanges going on:
Solution Driven
Students who already have specific questions in mind and just want answers.
Experience Sharing
Students who used the session to share their learning experiences and sharing best practices.
Ideas Sparking
Students who shared about their own individual practices and were inspired by one another’s processes and methods.
Testing our Assumptions
On top of that, before we prototyped the experiences, we had some pre-conceived notions. We weaved our assumptions in to the prototype experiences to find out if they were right or wrong.
Assumption 1: Only complementary interests need to be considered in a connection.
Wrong. There are more factors to consider in a connection because students are not interested in a purely transactional relationship. Other things like shared learning goals were also important for students to have a fruitful and enjoyable learning exchange experience.
Assumption 2: Students will have a more comfortable learning experience if they can choose who to learn from.
Partially true. Students like the flexibility of seeing peers suggested by Hatch, and browsing from a directory.
Assumption 3: Students will be more comfortable if we can help to bridge and break the ice for them.
True. When we started the conversation and introduction for them, students felt more at ease and oriented to continue the learning experience after.

In addition, we also learned a couple of things that were crucial to the success of the experience:
Insights from the Experiences
Coming prepared
In order for learning exchanges to be effective, students should have a basic understanding of what they want to learn and come prepared with questions.
Logistics is hard!
Setting up a time and place that fits both students' schedules can cause hindrance to the meeting.
Mapping the Learning Journey
We mapped out a task flow and wireframes for the Hatch app based on the feedback we gathered from our usability testings. What we didn't include was the 'Endorse Peer' feature at the end of the journey. This is because of very conflicting opinions that we got from students—they either hate it or love it. With the interest of time, we decided to focus on the rest of the features that we knew were more crucial for the MVP.
We also looked at comparators to distinguish how similar or different we are from them, and what value proposition we can offer that might differ from existing services.

Learning and Sharing Goals
Students will be prompted to write their learning and sharing goals during sign-up when they are creating their profile. This is to ensure that we can assess and connect students compatibly through their shared learning/sharing goals and interests.
Suggested Peers
Hatch suggests peers to students that might make compatible learning partners by aligning their learning goals and interests. This is so that students can bond and continue supporting each other throughout their learning journey.
Hatch will then suggest peers with similar learning interests so they can for a learning partnership. Students can connect with one another should they wish to.
After students have connected with one another, they can converse with their learning peers and get to know one another. At the beginning of each conversation, Hatch will help to break the ice by starting the conversation for them. This way, they will be able to orientate and continue the conversation.
Pitch & Demo Day
We had an ask of $520,000 to kickstart our product and achieve our next milestones and pitched this to a group of 11 investors where 9/11 of them invested, totaling the investment to $1,681,500.
View our Final Pitch deck here.
Because of the highly intensive structure of the class, and our numerous pivots, we didn't have enough time to do a lot of things. But if we did, there are several things we would do:

Conduct more user interviews and testings with digital prototype in order to refine the direction and idea further.

Adding simpler ways to schedule time and location with each other.

Ideate ways in which students can adjust their comfort levels in the sharing and learning of a skill.

Talk to more schools and cafeterias for possible partnership opportunities in an attempt to solve the logistics issue.

I also learned and grew so much from this experience as a CEO of a start-up that we created from scratch. From leadership skills, to public speaking to operating a business.

Read more about it here.
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