So, you find a need in the marketplace. People need to speak in English, right? And you find out that the need is not met. English tutors are costly, or there are simply not enough of them in certain areas of the world. You start to develop a neat product that you think will fill the need. You do thought experiments. What are the trends? Well, mobile penetration in the marketplace is an obvious one. What do people want? To learn quickly. What’s attractive? Video, interaction, humor, engagement. And then you sum it all up: “Let’s use the mobile and create a simulation of an English tutor where a learner can talk to a video character and get instant feedback!”
Sounds great, and it is a really good idea. But then you have to define the product, and the target market. And here is where real life comes into play. We can’t always predict what is really out there. So, the real question was this: Who will use it? We thought that we should target intermediate to advanced learners of English who have good English reading or other skills, but poor speaking skills. And so, the product was targeted to this segment.
But when we went live, we found that an awful lot of our users were at English levels that were much lower. I wouldn’t say newbie beginners, but almost! What’s the lesson? “You never know what’s out there until you find out what’s out there!”
The really important lesson is to learn – and then move quickly when you learn something. So, we developed another product aimed for those who want to learn basic English. Still the same clever idea – just for a different target market. And so we say this: “You can’t always know everything at the beginning. Not even the target. But then, isn’t that what makes life interesting?”