Spoon University Chapter Launch Program
Re-thinking the way we launch new chapters on college campuses through service and systems thinking
Timeline: 3 months
Role: Project lead, service designer, researcher
Collaborators: Sarah Adler (CTO)
Spoon University was looking to scale their chapter launch program from 50 to 100+ founders per semester. However, the existing program was too disorganized to scale— it suffered from internal miscommunication, lack of data and an inefficient use of the community managers' time.
A cohort-structured launch program guides founders through weekly objectives leading up to launch. The service re-design included a new strategy-driven marketing system, vetting process, video training tools—all optimized through digital automation and clear user flows.
The Key Results
01. Service Audit
I began my research with an audit of the entire chapter launch process, interviewing 5 student founders and the Spoon community team. The extent of program documentation I began with is pictured below. So I drew from my personal experiences of launching chapters to define major pain points.
02. Identifying the Problem
From my personal experience with chapter launches, the core issue was clear.
Each founder goes through the launch program individually. This overwhelmed the community manager with 50+ conversation lines, while students were limited to weekly conversations with just the community manager.
03. Defining Design Principles
From the numerous pain points, I synthesized the program objectives into 6 design principles. Each principle addresses a student or community manager's core needs.
Brainstorming multiple storyboards of the program structure helped clarify the details.
Namely, it helped define the overall cadence, the user's emotional journey and task list, and the technical product and materials we needed.
Mapping everything against the winter semester calendar ensured the program schedule had key metrics and milestones built in to evaluate risk.
A collaboration-driven cohort program that maximizes digital automation, empowers founders with the right tools and support, and builds a greater sense of community.
We tackled the holistic customer journey, from first awareness of the brand to official launch of a new chapter. The re-design fundamentally changed the launch program in nearly every stage.
Today, I'm going to walk you through some of my work through two parts:
Through new features in our proprietary product, Secret Sauce, and digital tools like Facebook ads and Typeform, we built a smarter, scalable marketing funnel.
Old Service Blueprint
The Problem: Individualized recruitment is inefficient and uninformed
- The entire process is time-consuming.
- (a) There is no significant marketing strategy.
- (b) There is no management system to track lead retention and conversion.
- (c) We waste time on repetitive info sessions that could be grouped. Students don't meet other students.
New Service Blueprint
- Use one digital location to prioritize online marketing, instead of manually recruiting students.
- Gather data to prioritize platforms and test marketing campaigns
- Leads land in one digital location and are led through a pre-set sign-up journey
- Register leads in our back-end system with accurate timestamp
- Can measure drop-off between expressing interest and info session sign up
- Automated email reminders for info sessions take load off community manager
Grouped info sessions:
- Prompt students to sign up for pre-scheduled group info sessions to maximize efficiency.
- Group hangouts provide a preview of the community and helps students feel less intimidated.
The biggest issue we faced while launching chapters was again the individual support we provided to founders. In addition, the program was organized into stages, but there was no methodology or structure for coaching founders through each stage. The entire process was extremely expertise-based.
Switching to a Cohort Structure
Grouping founders together into cohorts or "teams" created a more manageable organizational structure. This way the community manager would spend less time connecting with the same number of people, and founders could connect with other founders.
Stage progress with weekly check-ins:
- Allows each team to go through the chapter launch process together.
- Creates mini support groups who share challenges, successes, and the same timeline.
- Community manager now uses decks to guide the conversation and demo tactics.
Communication through Slack:
- Slack channels for each team and the founder class of Winter 2016.
- Eliminated repeat conversations and sped up communication.
- Plus, it allowed us to...
- Publicly celebrate chapter launches
- Share tips, reminders and questions
- Survey the founders in real-time
What Did I Learn From This Project?
- Lowering the barrier to entry also lowered the quality of founders.
- Because cohorts formed throughout the semester, we needed to understand time as the first variable in our tests. Because we didn't realize the importance of time, we tested for group size and launch requirements.
- I would like to have done much more user research and understood the emotional journey for users. However, I think we made the right decision to prioritize our operations and internal team—this was the foundation we needed before we could tackle anything else.