Adaobi Okonkwo
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Welcome to MentorTown!

Welcome to MentorTown!

Adaobi Okonkwo's photo
Adaobi Okonkwo
·Mar 1, 2022·

8 min read

Table of contents

  • Problem Statement
  • Idea Inspiration
  • Solution
  • Key Features
  • Potential Features
  • Product-Market Fit
  • Design Process
  • Code Process
  • What We Learned
  • What's Next For MentorTown?

Hi there! 👋

My name is Adaobi and I am a Product Manager who served as the main point of contact between myself and a team of three on this project.

My role entailed proposing the idea, product thinking, project timeline, scoping out the technical approach and design requirements for this project, and finally, organizing resources and ensuring documentation from all team members.

Enough about me for now, let’s jump right to why you’re really here… my submission for the Netlify x Hashnode Hackathon.

Project Workflow (Agile): Empathize > Ideate > Evaluate > Design > Code > Test > Feedback > Iterate

Problem Statement

It is often unclear what a mentorship program entails, how to find the right mentor/mentee fit, and how both parties can best help each other. This makes it difficult to form professional relationships and even more difficult to achieve career goals.

Idea Inspiration

The ideation phase began with every team member generating ideas based on our own personal experiences and evaluating viable standout features within these ideas.

We went down memory lane remembering the difficulty of having to attend career fairs as students in search of mentorships, internships and job opportunities. Taking into consideration, the amount of time and effort it took to physically network and position ourselves for these opportunities in such a limited pool.

So we thought, what if we had a digital social connection platform that swiftly and seamlessly connects mentees and mentors from different fields and communities around the world?

Solution

We created a prototype web app that helps solve one or multiple parts of the above stated problem in order to improve the efficiency and quality of connections between those who need help and those who are looking to help.

Those who need help

Mentees - students, early career professionals, and;

Those who are looking to help

Mentors - advanced or more experienced career professionals

Welcome to, MentorTown!

A global platform that helps students, young professionals, and career experts make the connections they need to drive professional development, career progression, and leadership skills.

Key Features

For our current features, we focused on executing and delivering on the minimum functionality that a product needs to achieve viability in the market - the MVP.

The goal was to deliver the minimum to first earn a customer's love from the very first use of our product, providing real solutions and a differentiated value. But we seek to improve on our solution over time based on our vision and feedback we receive from customers.

Intelligent Auto Matching

This is the heart and differentiating factor of our platform. Auto-Match pairs mentors to mentees and vice versa in a matter of seconds, using a Smart API and Algorithm to review and sync similar biodata retrieved from the database.

Virtual Meetings

These are weekly video call sessions that are automatically scheduled and saved on a calendar for both parties as soon as they indicate their preference in the biodata forms and get a match.

Participants will connect at their preferred aligned day and time using video conferencing softwares such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom.

Performance Tab

The earlier mentioned weekly virtual meetings are made mandatory for mentees to attend to help them achieve their goals with mentor guidance, peer coaching, and other learnings in ample time.

The Performance Tab will reflect a mentees attendance rate for all scheduled virtual meetings in a complete streak, with special badges awarded at the end of each month to serve as motivation.

NB: Features are located within the mentee/mentor dashboard.

Potential Features

We considered some potential features to be tested and implemented following our first iteration on MentorTown. These features will be prioritized in the MTP stage to help scale and provide more value to our end users when launched to market.

Membership Options

These will include different level mentorship plans that will help retain users through offerings such as Peer Mock Interviews, Exclusive Virtual Events, Short Form Courses, Community Access and Job Opportunities. etc.

Dynamic and Interactive Pages

Addition of functional pages using advanced programming and databases to help our users interact with more helpful content on the platform.

1-on-1 Calls

Short 30-minute calls with professional mentors on standby, ready to help with urgent situations like next-day job interview prep, interview project guidance and other related career development emergencies.

Refined Searches

Addition of a search feature and specialized filters in the home page to find matches through more specific and important mentor/mentee qualities and interests.

Results Tracking/Reporting

Both mentors/mentees will be able to follow the progress of their overall impact/learning and receive direct feedback from platform admins and peers with high ratings. Positive feedback reinforces output and negative feedback reinforces change.

Chat Function

Unlimited personal messaging with professional mentors on standby, ready to help with answering quick questions, daily progress check-ins, and insight on new ideas. etc.

Virtual Shadowing

This eliminates barriers such as location to help mentees virtually experience a mentors ‘day in the life.’ Companies could also promote themselves through this feature as mentees would be able to see how they operate behind the scenes and learn about their culture.

Product-Market Fit

Here, we considered how well MentorTown matches its target market and a users need for it by combining metrics to holistically understand the way customers use and desire the platform, down to market demand.

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To accurately measure product-market fit, we carried out a survey that identified a percentage of users who find MentorTown to be desirable. In doing so, we were able to get an in-depth and tangible understanding of who potential MentorTown users would be and how they would feel about the product.

Our survey created a sounding board or a customer advisory board that will be very essential for organic growth to occur once we build a marketing engine to scale user acquisition and launch to market.

95% of users who filled out the survey showed:

• An excitement to spread the word about MentorTown without sway and incentives

• A willingness to pay for MentorTown services and/or features

MentorTown was built based on an established understanding of what the market would look like for the product, meeting the immediate needs of a core group of users first with considerations to expand over time.

Design Process

Taking into consideration that there are two different users for the MentorTown platform, we knew we needed to make the user flow seamless and accessible to both parties.

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Our brand identity constitutes a fun, attractive, but formal color palette due to our target audience comprising young individuals and career professionals. We also made sure that our font type choice and copy were legible enough for a better UX experience.

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To execute on our objective, the Product Designer first utilized Wireframe.cc to sketch out a layout to support the visual components of MentorTowns interface, then moved on to Figma.com to create the high-fidelity wireframe and prototype to better communicate form and functions.

Relevant Links:

Figma File - bit.ly/3t91FXE

Design Prototype - bit.ly/3srkx51

Code Process

Our intelligent auto-match feature was built majorly using a server-side scripting language known as PHP. Other technologies used include HTML, CSS5, Vanilla Javascript, and the Bootstrap Framework - all used to develop the client-side.

A RESTful API was developed in JS to provide a well-documented feature and communicate between our database and the user interface. We also used a NodePackage manager as the 3rd party library management system.

Git was used for version control and Github was used as the online repository storage. The frontend and backend codes were deployed on two separate Github repositories for better documentation and hosted on Netlify.

This is an open-source project and as such, all contributions to improve and build on the value of MentorTown are welcomed.

Relevant Links:

Frontend Repo - bit.ly/33WhnwE

Backend Repo - bit.ly/3smOinA

Backend API Documentation - bit.ly/3HrkZ7u

Netlify Demo - bit.ly/3JXcPWg

What We Learned

By acknowledging our individual personal experiences, we were able to ideate successfully. We discussed past experiences and trends uniquely familiar to us and in doing so, we learned to build off of each other's ideas.

We learned to love the problem first and our solution second. By this I mean, in order for us to better understand the needs of our target customers, we first had to embrace the problem space.

We also learned that although solving a problem may seem worse while in the midst of it, the solution is often simpler than it seems. An example here is when we had to incorporate research data into validating our ideas and developing our prototype features.

And finally, we learned about Web App Monetization to generate funds. We debated if and how MentorTown could have a bigger impact if monetized while still bringing usable solutions to market.

What's Next For MentorTown?

Sadly, a set project timeline of two weeks was only enough for us to build on the proof of concept (POC), prototype, and MVP to enable checks on the viability of the idea.

The next step for MentorTown would be to build on the MTP. This is simply the phase where we break down our MVP further and test more features. With the potential features earlier mentioned, we would track and analyze customer feedback and then build out the features based on customer receptiveness.

As we scale, we expect to receive a number of feature requests from our customers. In light of this, we will be certain to have a roadmap in place and make sure our customers fit into this roadmap. We would then prioritize based on how many people it will affect (impact) and how long it will take for us to deliver (effort).

Our vision for MentorTown is ultimately to become a global solution that helps students and early career professionals work with companies and mentors on a smaller, less demanding scale — allowing them to build on their confidence, upskill, and network at the highest level imaginable.

#NoteToSelf: Building a product is an opportunity to do something meaningful. It helps to stay positive as you fix the hardest problems with your solutions. Your work is needed much more than you think - keep building! 💫

 
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