We often see how most companies come together to merge or acquire one another to increase their potential services and customer base in the market. However often it happens merging/ acquiring is no cakewalk. What if both the companies’ platforms are developed in different environments? Or what if the two platforms have no common features to connect?
These are some of the many challenges firms might face when they decide to merge or acquire. The same happened with upGrad and CohortPlus. The leading online education platform and a community with more than 30k members wanted to come together and the journey was not easy. See what they went through, how they made it work, and what was our role in this.
Leaving your job to pursue your dream program is not easy. Many working professionals either postpone their post-graduation plan to hold on to their job or leave their job to have their dream education. “Why can’t we have both?” upGrad is the answer to this question.
upGrad is India’s largest online higher education company providing programs in Data Science, Technology, Management, and Law, to students, working professionals, and enterprises.
upGrad is collaborated with some of the top universities like IIT Madras, MICA, NMIMS Global Access, Jindal Global Law School, Duke CE, Deakin University, Liverpool John Moores University, and others to offer great pg programs and other courses. Evidently, many people have taken a huge step in their careers by working and completing post-graduation programs online on upGrad.
What’s with CohortPlus?
CohortPlus is an online community, which brings together like-minded career aspirants on a single community platform. Here, they can network with each other, discuss and clarify doubts. This is a new way to be on top of things and thus helps professionals in ways better than we can think of. The majority of the community belongs to the data science and product management fields.
Founded in 2015 by Srinivasan Narayan, CohortPlus is now a community with 31,100+ global professionals. CohortPlus expands its network to techies working for giant firms like Google, Adobe, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Uber, Amazon, Practo, Zomato, etc.
The Big Acquisition
On 4th July 2019, upGrad announced the acquisition of CohortPlus making the two into one. The CohortPlus CEO expressed his belief that with upGrad’s support, CohortPlus intends to build a proprietary go-to platform for anyone looking for stepping up in their careers. Having grown organically to thousands of community members, CohortPlus claims to be bringing rich consumer insights, which will enable upGrad to enhance its offerings for the learners.
Credibility is the main reason for which this acquisition took place. UpGrad heavily relied on their sales team. It wanted to make new users invest in their courses. So, a sales associate will explain to the new user the benefits of enrolling in a course offered by upGrad. But, by simply doing this, the new users wouldn’t know what relationship upGrad has with its existing customers. They have even helped their alumni to solve problems they had faced in their careers.
So, the stakeholders wanted to make the CohortPlus platform an entry point to upGrad learn the platform. A platform where thousands of techies come together can also showcase how upGrad helps its learners with their careers. This would lessen the load on the sales team as well.
Well, every big move comes with some challenges. So has this acquisition. Both upGrad and Cohortplus are developed on different platforms and are in totally different environments. They had their differences from the very architecture. The platform of CohortPlus is tech-centered since it was designed & developed by developers. The features were added to it in later increments which were not present in the basic design. So, the features are not in the right place.
What did we do?
These problems are to be solved immediately. upGrad’s product team was responsible for it. But the time was less so are the team members. So, they needed more hands. Which is when we, f1studioz came into the frame. Our designers collaborated with the product team of upGrad. The product managers and product designers from upGrad and our firm partnered to revamp the application and make it ready.
The team at f1studioz and upGrad designers were able to make the application scalable and future-ready. We met together, understood the needs and requirements of our users and stakeholders, the targeted features of the application. Then we dismantled the existing CohortPlus application, found what pieces don’t fit well, and designed new features from the core.
We designed a new architecture of the platform. Our collaboration led to the decision of how the new platform should look like. We ensured that it is usable and scalable. We chose Figma as our design tool to provide proper hands-on collaboration and proper real-time visibility of progress to the stakeholders. Regular prototypes were given to the stakeholders and feedback was taken from them multiple times. Since time was a major constraint, Figma really helped as it enabled us to design things that were technically feasible.
After a month and a half of collaborative work, the app was launched. UpGrad had launched its own website, of course with new branding guidelines. So, we ensured that the UI looked and felt as per their design guidelines and requirements.
Finally, the website has come to fruition. This new platform enables users to understand what upGrad does and how it helps its students. The existing users can communicate with each other and help each other. The improved information architecture of the CohortPlus platform also includes new features like videos, links to upGrad courses and provides a glimpse of what upGrad has to offer in their courses. Though the schedule was tightly packed, we still managed to deliver the app in time as requested by our beloved clients. Now, the app is a proud resident of Playstore and Appstore.