Meraat CEI

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  • What was the project?
    • Meraat CEI (Center for Educational Innovations) is a $30 M Education Technology company serving 4,000+ schools (B2B) and 500,000+ students. Meraat is the B2B market leader in Iran’s education industry. (Back in the day operated in 7+ neighbor countries too.)
    • Meraat was famous for its state of the art tech-based services to schools. Most famous and popular, among all services, was Meraat’s centralized countrywide exams that were attended by 300,000+ students of 4,000+ schools from all around the country. (Iran, FYI, has 80 million population).
    • What made those exams so popular was Meraat’s smart performance reports that were invented by this company 20 years ago. These reports would give tons of descriptive, prescriptive, tabular and visual information, insights, analytics, predictions, and perspectives on the performance of students, teachers, and also schools across tens of different courses (like Math, Physics, Geography, etc.) versus themselves and against their counterparts from other schools.
  • When was that?
    • 2010 to 2013
  • What was my role in the project?
    • I was hired as a product manager in the first year. Although I didn’t have on official computer science university degree, I had studied and self-studied several computer science courses and achieved several certificates and degrees.
    • Then I promoted to the  Senior Product Management of the company for the second and third year.
  • What was the challenge/situation?
    • First major project:
      •   The company delivered the schools’ exam results and corresponding smart reports (explained above) to them on paper. It has a massive operations doing this every week to hundreds of thousands of students from 4,000 schools all over the country. My first mission was to digitize and automate this process, using technology to get tremendous savings to the company and also boost the company’s brand and boost customer satisfaction significantly. The revenue model at first was designed to be a transaction-based model, but after receiving several customer feedback, analyzing usage data and other metrics, and running several surveys and interviews, we found that this model doesn’t work for our B2B clients. So, we successfully changed the model into a subscription-based model and the problem was resolved and sales revenue from this stream skyrocketed.
    • Second major project:
      • Inspired by Apple U platform that was developed for students, teachers, and book publishers, I decided to build a platform (similar to an educational App Store) in which we produced and uploaded interactive high quality digital educational content and from which the school students, teachers, and officials could buy, download, and use their favorite contents on their tablets and iPads through our insourced dedicated mobile application (MerPub) that was installed on their devices.
  • Who were the key stakeholders?
    • The company top executives, esp. CEO, Head of Sales, and the deputy CEO
    • The engineering team of 11 (1 CTO, 2 iOS, 1 Android, 3 Backend, 1 Database Admin, 2 Frontend, and 1 Network Admin)
    • The design team of 2
    • Sales and Marketing team
    • Operations team (driver side)
    • Marketing team (passenger side)
    • Content (production) team
    • External stakeholders: school managers, teachers, students, parents, Iran education ministry officials
  • What actions did I take, individually and with my team?
    • Managing the backlog for the whole portfolio
    • Running tons of user research, customer development initiatives, agile experimentation (hypothesis-driven experimentation), one-on-one interviews, and focus groups with all relevant stakeholders, i.e. teachers, students, school managers, and parents.
    • Running several A/B tests to ensure data-driven decision making
    • Developing multiple wireframes, mockups, and prototypes
    • Analysing users data through our built-in local software, called L Application
    • Circulating relevant information on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to corresponding stakeholders, through both written and verbal communication
    • Taking care of the project management-side of the product development (i.e. ensuring deadlines and requirements are met)
  • What tools, techniques, frameworks, methodologies did I make use of?
    • Tools: Excel sheets, Asana, Redmine, Zoho CRM, Zoho Project
    • Frameworks: Agile (Scrum), strategy competitive analysis frameworks (Porter, BCG, CCC, STP, 4P), PMBOK project management methodology
  • What were the results/outputs/outcomes? (at month 18)
    • Serving 300,000 students and 5,000 teachers logging in, performing and downloading tens of simple and complex queries and reports online through our re-designed website and/or mobile applications (iOS and Android), daily and weekly (first project)
    • Serving 1000+ schools (B2B) to download digital educational content (for an average of 100 courses per each school for 1 educational year) from Meraat Education Store to through MerPub (explained above) to their devices on a subscription-based model. (~ 100,000 annual subscription purchases for doing 3,000,000 downloads in 1 educational year, which is approx. 30 weeks)
    • Achieved 98% uptime
  • Lessons learned?
    • Listening to client/customers, understanding their underlying need, and developing what meets those underlying needs can do magic and make a lost project into a money printing machine!
    • Testing/experimenting features and products and observing users while using them in actuality is worth 100 times interviews and focus groups
    • B2C is different from B2B, try to fully and deeply embrace it 🙂

 

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