Designing CornUp- a Masterclass for Startups
This was a personal project as part of a cohort-based design program called 10K designers.
The task was to design an ‘Edutainment’ platform for a given niche (business, arts, finance, etc). The word Edutainment comes from a combination of the words Education and Entertainment.
Specifically, we had to design a ‘Masterclass for X’ (x being our niche).
Project overview 🎯
Since I’ve been working closely with startups for the past 5 years, I believed I was most suited to design around building a platform for startup education. I chose the ‘Business’ niche and designed ‘CornUp- a Masterclass for Startups.’
The word CornUp comes from a combination of the words ‘Startup’ and ‘Unicorn’
As learned so far, I began with Research, followed by IA, Wireframing, Visual Design, and juicing it up with Prototyping.
The most popular resource to learn about startups is the YC Startup School (online videos), which stems from the Y-Combinator accelerator.
I’ve seen a bunch of their material and they are more like guest-sessions, where a successful startup founder would come on and deliver a talk around building a product, fundraising, go-to-market strategy, etc.
The goal here is to teach someone ‘how to build a startup.’
For most people who cannot get into the YC accelerator (physical cohort-based learning in San Francisco, US) or are looking for guidance on how to build their own startup, this seems to be a great resource, it’s free for everyone online.
YC gets over 10,000 application per year and only ~300 are accepted
- In my research, what was lacking in the market was a ‘Masterclass for Startups,’ a structured way of learning, where the best from the world of startups teach you by going in-depth on various topics, not just 1 or 2 videos.
- Also, most of the material today is around building your own startup, which is very different for someone looking to get into one of them. How can we make sure that people get into high growth/successful startups after learning about the industry?
A platform where the best from the world of startups teach you a course, after which you can apply to work at a high-growth / successful startup.
A structured course, designed to go in-depth on a particular topic.
Once you attain a certification, you can browse jobs and apply from within the app.
let's dive in 🤿
Information Architecture 🧮
The image below is a mindmap of the product, it shows how information is organized and how they relate to each other.
One of the most exciting phases for me personally, as we get to try tons of creations without major constraints. I’ve found that iterating is immensely helpful, especially when you create new designs by mixing elements from previous iterations.
Onboarding and Login 🤳
After looking at various onboarding flows from different apps, I decided to add gifs to my onboarding, as I found them to be more catchy than just plain images. Instead of forcing the user to watch all the 3 steps of onboarding,
I just added a single button to ‘Get in.’ The gifs change themselves or the user can swipe to view next/previous.
In terms of login, I followed Hick’s law to help the user make a faster decision. As most people who are passionate about startups have an AngelList account, I decided to display the 3 most popular login options, (Google, FB, and AngelList), while also giving the ability to login via Apple and e-mail from a dropdown.
The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices- Hick’s law
Apart from this, we also have the referral page, where the user can enter a referral code and avail a month of free membership on their chosen plan.
Home screen 📱
This is where users discover new courses, browse different categories, search by filters, and decide the next steps.
The entire premise of the product is built on two categories, called ‘essentials’ and ‘niche.’
Essential courses are the ones that everyone working at a high-growth startup should be aware of. These include topics around building a product, strategy, fundraising, scaling, etc.
This aims to equip the user with a trajectory of where the startup might be headed and how to best get there.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
- Lewis Carroll
Niche courses, on the other hand, aim to dive deep into a particular topic/industry. Here we can browse options like Self-driving cars, crypto, e-commerce, etc.
While designing the homepage, I used a few common tricks out there, like using social proof, upselling at the right time, and nudging the user to take action by showing impactful quotes from successful startup folks.
Social proof- As you can see, while the user is browsing courses, they’d be met with a banner that says “Learners who took these courses are currently working at (insert logo of a successful startup).”
Also, a small logo of the company associated with the instructor is attached next to the instructor’s photo to instill trust.
Upselling- If a user is already registered and they’re browsing courses, they’d be met with a ‘free upgrade’ option, which will lead them to the referral page, where they get a 1-month free membership once they successfully invite at least 2 new users to signup on the platform. If a user has not enrolled in any one of the plans, they’d see the ‘Browse plans’ option from time to time.
Nudging- When a user is browsing products and they come to the end of the page, they’ll see a quote from a person that’s in the ‘Startup Hall-of-Fame’
This is in the hopes of getting the user to take action and go for it.
Course details 📒
On the course details page, users can watch the first introductory video for free, after which they’ll have to buy one of the plans to learn further. A CTA in the form of a FAB is placed on the screen as well.
In addition to the social proofs used earlier, this time I’ve also added the ‘number of students’ currently enrolled in the course.
With filters, apart from showing results for the usual filters selected, the user can also type in a ‘search term’ for precise results. I decided to show these ‘search term’ results based on the keywords typed. These keywords could contain the name of the course, the instructor’s name, and the category itself. The results displayed also contain the search term in them, which helps the user understand what type of results could be expected.
Video portal 📺
When landing on the ‘Portal’ for the first time, the user is met with an animation that aims to comfort the user on their decision making. It displays instructors helping out a student climb further up.
In case the user has already enrolled in a course, they can see their progress- which aims to motivate the user to complete the rest.
After completing the course, the user is provided with a certification of competition. This certificate can be shared and downloaded for credential purposes.
Growth Loop ♾️
The idea of a Growth Loop is that when a new user arrives on the platform, they complete a set of actions in order to get something in return (output). In our case, the key element that drives this growth loop is the ‘Jobs’ feature, where users can apply to work at high growth/successful startups. This also in turn creates an alumni network that can refer new candidates to the platform to get ‘up-to-speed’ on working at a startup.
Picking up from the ‘Growth Loop’ mentioned above, the jobs section is where users can apply for a job after completing a relevant course.
Users cannot apply for jobs they haven’t taken a courses in.
This ensures that the companies are receiving relevant candidates while also driving product growth at CornUp.
Users can browse jobs based on categories, save/bookmark jobs, and apply for jobs from within the app itself.
Further, they can even filter jobs by various categories, like location, type, experience, pay, etc.
The product has 4 plans a user can select from.
Explorer- for people new to startups and just want to explore the field
Passionate- for people who are starting to take startups seriously and want to go deeper
Committed- for people who have decided to get into startups
Believer- for people who have committed long-term to startups and learning more about them with regularly updated content on CornUp.
Checkout flow 💳
Once a user decides to buy one of the plans mentioned above, they are met with this screen, where they can see their payment summary and have the option to ‘Safe pay’ (purchase the plan).
After deciding to buy, they select their mode of payment and enter their details. As you can see, I’ve tried to assure users that their purchase is safe and their payment is protected in case they doubt it or something goes wrong (yellow and grey strips under payment summary).
For users who have not subscribed to a plan, we encourage them to browse plans while comforting them by showing an animation that portrays assistance. For users who are already on a plan, we show them their current plan along with their activity on the platform, like courses taken, achievements, and jobs applied.
We also encourage the user to upgrade to a higher plan (if not on the highest plan already), while also giving them an option to get a free upgrade, which leads to the referral section.
Wrapping up… 🔚
Well well well, that was a lot to digest. Phew…
The world of Startups is constantly changing, with the latest technologies taking over legacy systems and people from all over the world joining in, especially due to the pandemic.
A product like this would be suitable for remote learning, opportunities and making sure it’s inclusive to everyone across borders.
I’d like to thank the team at 10K designers for making this happen and making me a part of their course. Bless up 🙌🔥🌍
For any comments, suggestions, or just to have a casual chat, feel free to reach out to me on email@example.com 🍉