Having worked on edtech apps for various markets and purposes, we’ve learned how many challenges, nuances, and planning it takes to launch a successful product. So, we decided to interview edtech founders we work with to gather their insights, tips, and challenges for any beginner here.


One of our first interviewees was Florian Haussmann, the co-founder of VUC^it, a digital coach for corporate training. The app offers micro-learning enhanced with social media features, gamification, and other elements to strengthen cooperation and motivation in a hybrid working environment.


In our talk with Florian, we discussed the main edtech tendencies and challenges to come, shared insights on launching e-learning platforms, and talked about VUC^it’s next steps. Read our conversation recap below.


On how ‘traditional views’ challenge edtech startups

– Hard-breaking traditional views of users is the main edtech challenge, in my opinion. You see, in education, like in any other industry, when you try to disrupt the way it works with digitalization, you have to deal with the “traditional” mindsets of users. For most of them, studying is limited to attending certain places where tutors explain how the world works in a theoretical, one-directional way. Web platforms offer to change it.


Moreover, we are still in a world where management typically doesn’t trust employees and makes their digital solutions instruments that control the learning process. Such apps often focus on individual tasks, personal feedback, etc. We instead seek to make a transformation by offering a product that enhances communication and cooperation in a hybrid environment. And that’s actually challenging – up to 95% of such transformations fail.


On what to do with low motivation among edtech users

– A crucial issue is that it’s very hard to spark learners’ interest and motivate them to study. For instance, if we speak about corporate e-learning, its users obviously don’t want to spend their time studying stuff about data protection or attending lectures on sexual harassment awareness while they can finish work and go home. To change it, edtech apps transform to be more like YouTube, a platform with interactive engaging features that make people stick around for hours exploring the content.


So, the main question now is how to manage the process from the user’s perspective. Although many tools offer new ways of breaking down and presenting materials, the motivational aspect, which is about making people stick to the learning process, is and will be the biggest challenge.


On competition and investments in edtech

– I don’t think things have changed much since the beginning of the pandemic. The competition in edtech is still very high. So, to find investments, you first need to overcome competitors who share your vision and offer similar products.

Secondly, you have to challenge big players like schools, universities, etc. – the facilities that are state-sponsored and don’t have to worry about generating money. They may have inferior products but don’t need financing to handle the business flow.


On how VUC^it got it all complicated

– My main insight for those looking to create or already developing e-learning platforms would be – always keep your apps simple. In our case, we first overwhelmed VUC^it UI with features, even though we had a strong design background.


We’ve analyzed user feedback from previous versions and included too many components in one of our iterations. Yet, after the release, we noticed that most clients didn’t know about the features even though new implementations were introduced with video instructions during onboarding. We might have done it due to the absence of relevant experience. So, I would suggest having team members with experience in developing edtech projects.


On things to consider while developing an edtech app

If we could start from scratch again with VUC^it, I would establish a clearer way to manage requirements and communicate with the development company. Another thing is focusing more on documentation. When developing prototypes, it is less of a concern. However, sometimes the prototypes live longer than intended, and poor documentation becomes a real issue.


Also, during VUC^it launch, I learned how important it is to have a tech team always by your side (even if it’s one or two developers) to be able to make small adjustments on the go.


On how VUC^it works with its user feedback

– We collect feedback from users throughout the lifecycle. Starting with physical interviews, we are trying to understand user problems. Then, we create a prototype and offer users to try it out. Next, we conduct surveys and interviews again. After receiving feedback, designers come up with ideas to enhance the platform’s flow even more.


We also constantly monitor and track data that the app collects – what features people use, how often they do it, etc. If we notice that people aren’t using some implementations or use them not as intended, we specifically ask them about the issues they may have faced.


The process is carried out by a small team of 11 members – some people, including the content team and me. Previously, we had a separate group for it, but now we don’t. I think everyone who can contact users to collect feedback should do it.


On why it’s OK to still work on product/market fit years after release

– Although we have found a niche product/market fit already, we are still in the discovery process. The current app is its third iteration which includes changes & insights from the previous 2 versions.


It all started from an idea to digitize artsnext, our main product that provides consulting on transformation in corporate settings. So, we wanted to develop a scalable digital app that would assist with what we offer at artsnext.


After receiving feedback on our first VUC^it prototype, we decided to try running B2C campaigns and looked for end users. However, it appeared our local market doesn’t have high demand in edtech solutions, so after some time, we pivoted back to the B2B model with artsnext as the main client.


On VUC^it’s next steps & vision

– We have a general vision and are now working out possible approaches, features, and steps. One of these is, for example, a fundamental decision on how we will manage VUC^it content production.


On the one hand, we can turn to a costly approach with high uniqueness & independence provided by our writing people. Another option is to partner and open the platform for others to offer their content. In that case, we must reassess the roadmap and implement a new content management system that includes access levels, roles, and security infrastructure.


On simplicity and gamification in e-learning

– Nothing’s going to change, if people don’t get one thing. E-learning is not about taking paper materials and turning them into PDFs, it’s about making the process enjoyable and fun.


Besides, the social aspect will be another crucial dimension for edtech apps. Working in groups, reflecting, and even starting healthy competition contribute to the motivation and, in the end, better results.


Finally, people can access plenty of theoretical stuff for free today, but the information they get is usually hard to digest and apply in real-life scenarios. Thus, one more focus point for edtech platforms will be providing well-structured engaging micro-learning units, which take a lot of work or money to produce.


On VUC^it outsourcing development to a Ukrainian team

We looked for an offshore team because we needed qualified personnel at short notice for a fair price. Thus, we placed a request on some platforms and got a list of about 20 companies. We chose Fulcrum because, among other companies, they were the only ones who didn’t cover us with empty promises as soon as we started the conversation. Instead, we were offered to conduct discovery to get the answers and create productive cooperation. I thought then, let’s try it – these guys are honest with us. So, yes, our choice was based on personal communication.


When the war in Ukraine started, I was shocked. Less than a week before, I talked to the Fulcrum team, and the guys assured me they had ways to retreat in case things got more dangerous. And then, it happened. So, the team resorted to the mountain area in the country’s western regions, and our cooperation continued.