It’s already been three months into my tech journey at MEST Africa. These three months have been challenging, fun, and inspiring. I have learned and experienced a whole new world. I wrote my first line of code in Dart and set up Python on my MacBook. I designed my first mobile and web experience, among others, but the key highlight for me was teaming up for our Capstone project.
At MEST Africa, Capstone projects are simulation projects where EITs team up in groups of three or four, find a real-life problem, validate it and build a solution that works all in six weeks.
I teamed up with two amazing teammates; Somto Chike-Nwaka who leads Business Development and Operations and Shulammite Joyful John who leads Technology and Finance. I served as the Product and Team lead.
We identified a problem in the education sector in Sub-Saharan Africa and built our solution around that prpblem. According to available data, out of the 98% of students who study in primary schools, only 9% make it into the tertiary level and only 6% graduate. Tellingly, people with senior high school education have the highest rate of unemployment in Ghana.
To reduce unemployment, every senior high school graduate must be employable at the very least. To ensure this, we built a digital education platform called Egaloe that distributes courses/programs from accredited institutions and industry-leading companies in English and native languages to equip secondary school students with employable skills.
I plan to write a four-part series that breaks down the whole Capstone experience from idea to pitch. In the first part which you are reading now, I will highlight 25 tools we used in the process of building our MVP and after this I will write about the following;
- Team formation & finding a worthy problem
- Validating solution and market research
- Building the product and pitching the idea
In the process of building our MVP, Egaloe we used 25 tools generally to take care of communication & collaboration, market research, business development, design, and finally product development.
In this note, I will elaborate on how my team and I found these tools useful.
To start, let’s look at how we ensured effective communication and collaboration among teammates, stakeholders, partners, mentors, and potential users.
Communication & Collaboration
Most of our internal communication was in a WhatsApp group which we created. Initially, we planned to use Asana but later found the WhatsApp group effective since we are always on WhatsApp. Because of the nature of the project and the demands from MEST Africa, it was very important for us to collaborate on every single document we created, and in most cases we found ourselves editing one single document at the same time which was made possible with Google Docs & Sheets.
Additionally, we needed a central home for all documents and assets related to our project. Google Drive was our best option. We had about 18 folders on there for various aspects of our project. Assets were neatly organized and easily accessible by each team member.
During our market research, we spoke to about 45 persons including senior high school students, school administrators, management, mid and junior level employees, employers, university students, and CEOs of industry-leading companies.
Some of these interviews were conducted on virtual platforms like Google Meet or Zoom but mostly on Google Meet. We conducted a survey among business professionals, university and senior high school students using Google Forms. We also went to Ideal College near UPSA using an Uber, for on-site interviews which we recorded with our Phone recorders. Most follow up interviews were done via Phone Call.
A section of the market research was also done online where we found Google Search highly useful.
With business development, a unit Somto led, we found LinkedIn very useful when we used it to research our potential competitors and partners. We found our first partner in the person of Eyram Tawia, CEO of Leti Arts, through LinkedIn and he was instrumental in the development of Egaloe.
We used Strategyzer.com to flesh out our Business Model Canvas; it was very effective with the already made columns into which we only had to enter our input. We used Miro in the Business Development Canvas as well.
We used Adobe Illustrator to develop our brand identity and to design several creative elements in Adobe Photoshop. We used Google Fonts for the selection of our primary and secondary fonts, used the Material Design Type Scale Generator to define our typestyle, and also adopted icons from Google Fonts.
Most of the images we used were licensed for free use by Unsplash and Freepik.
Before we began to design our user experience we developed a user flow and information architecture in FigJam.
We designed the user interface and experience in Figma which also promotes collaboration and enabled all team members to contribute to designing our MVP. We used Canva to design our pitch deck and found it useful because it fostered collaboration and has a lot of assets as well.
In the development of the product which was led by Shula, we used Bootstrap as a framework for our MVP; the code was written in VsCode, we stored our code on Github (which also fosters collaboration) and hosted it on Netlify.
We purchased our domain name, www.egaloe.com on NameCheap and the videos used in the MVP for our digital education platform were hosted on our channel on YouTube. We used Google Analytics to track people who visited our platform and used Hotjar to see how they navigated our platform – Egaloe.
A bunch of tools right?
I didn’t realize how many until I decided to list them for this article. This brings me to the end of the first part of our four-part series about my first Capstone experience at MEST Africa.
If you read this far, I want to say thank you. As I said in my last note, I plan to write a lot more this year and hopefully, it will be more about what I have learned, not just my experience.
You can get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org or [+233] 020 8158 864