Build a quality network to support startup founders in Singapore
In 2017, our client created a platform to encourage the promotion of tech startups in Singapore on local and international levels. With more than 4,000 startups registered, it has become the go-to platform of the startup ecosystem to find grants, investors, partners, talents and mentors in Singapore.The platform has the ambition to provide a reliable and trustworthy support system for startup founders to build successful businesses.
To register as a mentor on the startup platform, the member has to fill up a form, which will be reviewed by an admin. As the current information provided is not complete, the admin has to go through tedious additional checks. In addition, the member is not timely notified of the decision. The Business wanted to improve the process as well as the experience for the member.
I implemented the following process to start with:
1. Discussion with stakeholders to understand the existing flow and pain points (with user flows and wireflows in Miro).
2. Competitive analysis on similar platforms to have an overview of the market standards.
3. Ideation sessions on Miro with the stakeholders and development team on the possible options to improve the curation process.
5. Once everyone is aligned on the flows, handover to the UI Designers for the final high-fidelity wireframes.
6. Validation by the client before the handover to the development team.
As mentioned earlier, I only delivered the mid-fidelity wireframes. However I will comment here on the final UI versions for clarity.
1. Use progressive disclosure to retrieve information about the applicants
2. Inform the applicants about the status of their applications with banners and dashboard
3. Streamline the curation process for the admin team
Other ideas which did not pass the gate
Based on the previous research during the Miro board discussion, I also identified a few features that could add value to the platform for the members I submitted for discussion with the stakeholders.
A rating system for the members, through evaluations or endorsements, would inform the other members of the quality of the mentors and angel investors,
A calendar – Members would be able to know the exact availability of the mentors/angel investors and could book an appointment directly,
Automation of the decisions to accelerate the decision process for the applicants who would meet all defined criteria, leaving only the edge cases to be processed by the admin,
A matching system to recommend mentors/angel investors' profiles based on the members' profiles and interests (this could potentially solve another issue about the completion of the profiles, which is another pain point. But this is another story ;-)
Although the client positively received these propositions, it was impossible to proceed due to budget and time constraints.
I encountered a few challenges along the way:
The main point of contact on the admin side left the project only a few weeks after we started, and as the rest of the team was also new, it took some time to get validations from the stakeholders,
The selection criteria were not as stringent as expected for the mentors. The stakeholders had requirements but they envisioned to study the applications on a case by case basis, "not to miss anyone interesting". Consequently, towards the end of the project, as there was another change in the client organisation, we had an intense discussion about having "verified" mentors and "non-verified" mentors. The verified mentors would be the ones who met all the criteria, while the "non-verified" mentors were those who did not match all the criteria yet. I had to draft another wireflow to show them the consequences if we implemented this solution and how it would be confusing for the members (and cluttered as well on the interface!), before we could align back on the initial solution. As a consequence, we had to descope the dashboard to catch up for the budget.