How to Build a Mobile App: Lessons from ClassDojo, a Popular Educational App
ClassDojo ensures that a platform for a classroom-based service comes from the teacher’s guidance, so that it is continually revised based on what works and what doesn’t. While not every classroom may have the same environment, the features that could work in one classroom may not work in another.
It is possible to scale a service that is embedded in a school, with all the functionality already in place, without the need to create and launch an entirely new platform. Trust is built with teachers, which allows them to contribute feedback on an app that has their children’s personal data, which would otherwise be applied to any business.
ClassDojo took years to develop. It has more than 20,000 schools around the world and is being used by over one million teachers and students. The company has been profitable since 2012. However, many startups take off with little evidence of traction, so defining your market and understanding how your customers use your product is crucial to success.
While the educational app was building out the service, it kept reaching out to schools and teachers across the world, asking for feedback on the software and asking whether they needed it. Eventually, the company found that there was overwhelming demand for its services.
ClassDojo began as a small group of teachers who started to experiment with different ways of using technology to build a communication platform for the classroom. They learned through working with their parents and students to incorporate functionality into a mobile platform that would connect students with parents, and parents with teachers. These experiences built confidence in the approach and the design of the product. This helped ClassDojo gain visibility, both in terms of developer community and customer base, as it began to scale.
When the app scaled to teachers at schools, it became obvious that there was a large number of teachers and school districts. When the founders decided to start ClassDojo, they wanted to address a common problem for parents in middle and high school. Kids would do something they shouldn’t, but can’t speak up because of the perceived consequences of blowing up.