Caroline Mensch - YOU++
Caroline Mensch - YOU++
Describe yourself and your project. How did you get the idea?
YOU++ is an online coding education platform aimed at primary school kids aged 9 to 14. We teach children about computer programming with modern courses and lesson plans that are highly aligned with core subjects in the Swedish national curriculum, such as Mathematics and Science. Our modern courses are developed and tested with educators which make them apt for both school and home use, as a cross-curricular school and after-school tutoring tool.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
I hold a double-bachelor degree in International Management with emphasis from both Germany and Spain, and a master degree in Entrepreneurship from Lund University. During internships at Henkel, Deloitte, and Aldi Süd, I have gained solid experiences in Communications, Sales and Business Development. Being part of the Nestlé Marktplatz, a start-up like initiative, I was able to gain my first entrepreneurial experience while managing all processes of a online business within a small interdisciplinary team.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
Throughout these three months, we hope to develop and release two full coding courses after a thorough testing phase with kids, parents and teachers which enables us to constantly improve our solutions to create programming courses that our kids and teachers not only like but love. Most of my time will be spent on the course development, marketing and sales, while customer development will play a major role.
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
We will have two complete coding courses, first parents and schools with purchase intentions and pioneering teachers that would like to further contribute to new course content.
Caroline Mensch - YOU++ #2
With the aim to host a great number of testing workshops with schools and kids in August/ September, we have been working on our first two courses to be tested and contacted more than 70 schools in Lund and Malmö. Therefore, I have created and finalized the sales presentation for schools, principals and teachers, met with our cooperating teacher Maria Nilsson to discuss pedagogical components and added new content to our coding courses for kids. For example, I have further outlined a new YOU++ course aligned with geometry, I have written instructions for our courses and created a first draft of our upcoming marketing campaign.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
For now, we have been able to proceed as it has been planned (apart from my PC’s daily nervous breakdowns ;)). Everything is on time so far, as we are still developing and finalizing the two first courses. Due to summer holidays, I am still awaiting the replies from all the teachers who are willing to take part in our testing workshops which will help us to gain further feedback and further develop our product. Unexpectedly, we have met Victor who develops a robot for educational settings with whom we have assessed the potential of a future cooperation (e.g. online YOU++ courses that can be enhanced with the physical robot in the classroom or at home). Although our core business will be centred on our online courses, the robot would be a nice add-on. Due to several synergies and the ease of integration, we do not expect too much extra work to align the courses with the educational robot.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
Product development and marketing. Generally we will follow our plan, but Victor’s robot opens up new alleys which we try to exploit while developing a first working demo version. With this demo, we will be able to test how our courses can lay the foundation for the robot and make kids interact with the robot while using YOU++.
Caroline Mensch - YOU++ #3
How did you experience the three months?
The three month were highly valuable and a great experience for us
We were finally able to fully concentrate on the product and platform development, and successfully created our first coding course for kids
It was very fulfilling to see what is possible in relatively little time with 100% focus on YOU++
We are now actually having a product at hand that can be tested with real potential customers and we succeeded in setting meetings with schools to showcase it
Working in our office at VentureLab or at the World Trade Center in Malmö set a nice entrepreneurial atmosphere to proceed with our project while exchanging thoughts and advice with other budding and experienced entrepreneurs
We met numerous fellow Leapfroggers as well as other entrepreneurs throughout the summer, which was both motivating and enjoyable.
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
Staying motivated on the days that nothing seems to work
Working inside at the office at the rare hot days that we could have gone to the beach ;)
Seeing the progress that we made every day, it is so much nicer to work on the project that you really care about without being distracted by other things such as university assignments etc.
Seeing what we can make do/work without any external help
Being able to put all the small ideas for our first course into practice
Contact with fellow entrepreneurs
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
Everything worked out quite well, we are really happy with our progress and outcome so far, we will definitely continue working with the project in the future and try to get as many kids as possible to learn programming.
In the coming 2 months, we will be running pilots in several schools in Lund and Malmo, and start to roll out the product to the parent market.
We were again confronted with the big drawback of not being a native speaker in the country you do business in. Sure, Swedes speak English very well, but it still creates a boundary, and since we are working with young children, whom we cannot expect to understand English, this becomes even more of a problem. As a result, in the long run, we will continue our efforts in our home markets.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
Nothing stays ever the same, the things you created or built two weeks ago will seem unprofessional or even obsolete to you (e.g., code you wrote, designs you made). This can be demotivating, but actually it is a sign of fast progress, which we learned to recognise and appreciate.
Also, we learned the value of mono-tasking. In some of the weeks, where both of us were working more than full-time solely on developing the product, we got so much more done than in the months before, where we were constantly shifting between YOU++ and other activities. If at all possible, we should try to schedule our time in blocks. Serial monotasking beats multitasking every day of the week.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
Focus, focus, focus - be persistent and disciplined and celebrate small wins (e.g., getting a button to work, schedule an important meeting).
Get into a rhythm. There is no clock-in time, nobody is going to care if you show up two hours late, or not at all - except for yourself in the long run. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, put the alarm same time every day, eat healthy, work out at least every other day, and don’t forget to mix in some social events every now and then. All of this will greatly improve your efficiency.