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Bold.org solving difficult problems in education and philanthropy, by unlocking opportunities for students and donors

My Role

Lead Designer
Responsible for leading the project end to end: from digging into each facet of the experience to shaping the future of Bold.org brand

Problem space

The average US student today will graduate more than $30,000 in debt and is far less likely to start small businesses, seek the highest impact careers, buy homes, or start families.

Students require to fund their education through exclusive funding opportunities. Existed scholarship lists websites are useless, they store outdated scholarships and just sell users' data. There was no way for a person or a company to create a scholarship.

By enabling students to fund their education through exclusive funding opportunities, Bold.org broadens access to that education in an affordable and sustainable way.

Outcome

We developed a platform with simplicity at the core. For donors, we built a service that allows any person and any company to create a personalized scholarship in a few minutes with 0 background. For students, we built a platform that matches their detailed scholarship profile with the best fit scholarships and helps them win.

Think big, start small

Starting small enables us to ship sooner and get feedback from first users. We saved months by skipping the donor side, and emulate it manually - add the first scholarships funded by the company, co-founders, and their friends as html pages with a fewparams in database. And go with the minimal required pack of features for student sign-up and applying. We’ve launched in a month and start collecting feedback, improving conversation rate and CPA. In a few weeks, we found wrong assumptions and adjusted direction, with improved conversion rate in times, reduced CPA, and great, as for MVP, feedback from users we continue.

Rethinking sign-up process

Bold.org's key feature was applying to scholarships in 1 click, for this, we have to ask students to fill detailed profile that we attach to each application when students apply.

The problem that we request bulk and very personal info: life story, education details, career description, full financial information including tuition costs, loans, family income, and lots more. And no one will share it with a company which they see the first time in their life.

Do you know the main UX rule for the sign-up form? The shorter form - the highest conversation. Well... I broke this rule.

We applied to follow 8 advanced user experience tweaks in a single sign up flow:

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We tested different order for steps, made a bunch of hypotheses and a series of A\B tests, and reduced the bounce rate even more.

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This solution allowed us to get a ~59% conversion rate for 30 mins, 100+ questions sign-up form where we ask every personal detail from student life.

And we turned it into a fun and rewarding experience for students.

Part 2: Monetizing

Starting profitability journey

We believe that by democratizing philanthropy, a social impact business can be built at a venture scale, in a way where everybody wins — from our donors to our investors, to us, and above all, to our recipients.

We got first thousands of students that were writing their essays for donors, so why not match them with some tool like Grammarly and help users check their grammar, especially with Grammarly paying commission for each signup.

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We designed prompts on student profile and application page, launched it, tracked its efficiency, iterated on the copy and additional context around the feature, and with improved performance started making first dollars.

That was a great experiment, but Grammarly has low commissions for sign up and not so interesting for students. So we started looking for more partners and thinking about how to integrate them with the platform.

New homepage

Instead of showing the scholarship list as the entry point, we add a new homepage with a few tasks for users and some gamification mechanics:

- Bold Points

- Unique Bold Points Scholarships

- Daily opportunities

- Quiz with personalised reccomendations engine

We added more partners, build a tasks and rewards system for them and move forward.

Resources

We start adding more and more products on the platform that might be useful with students and we faced a problem, that we need a way how to introduce them to the students.

So we fit a new section into the exciting user experience - Resources.

Categories

Detailed page

Bold.org opinion

Reviews from other bold.org students
(We used tasks on homepage to make users make first reviews)

Partnered Scholarships

We fund a branded no-essays scholarships for our key partners to attract even more attention to products that might be interesting to the students. It’s a win-win situation for Bold.org, partners, and students.

Leaderboards

To encourage users to compete we launched Leaderboards. They show student’s position in their region and in the overall ranking, which motivate them to earn even more Bold Points

K-factor

One of the most important metrics for platforms like Bold.org is the k-factor. By growing the referral program we reducing marketing spends and increasing the growth pace.

Users love Bold.org and winners actively promote the platform through their friends and even schools so made it easy to invite a friend or nominate to the scholarship.

While we’re awarding new applicants every day, it’s not enough volume to become viral. We launched an ambassador program, made a bunch of improvements in UX, and still exploring ways how to get 1.01+ k-factor

Design System

I went the extra mile by designing, documenting, and leading the Bold.org design system, we used Figma and Storybook, which helped us in building consistent experience across variety of screens and features.

Privacy

Bold.org operates a lot of data about users and takes a secure, transparent, values-driven approach to privacy. That means that from a UX perspective we a challenge to everything to give users control about their data.

Results

Just in a few months in the 5-people team we successfully launched Bold.org to the public in October of 2019. With a 56% conversation rate for 100+ question forms, we start our rapidly growing journey. launched monetization in the next month and in 9 months became profitable with more than 150k users. Right now we have 30+ people in the team, 600K+ users (and 100k+ per month pace), 30+ new scholarships every month, and new upcoming tools.

Big thanks to whole amazing Bold.org team ❤️

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