How we built an edtech product that sticks

30 August, 2022

Charlotte Trudgill is no stranger to the world of technology; having had stints at Meta and Grab, she was already familiar with working with consumer apps for sizable audiences. 

But when it came to building her own education technology startup, these experiences scarcely prepared her for what was to come. She was effectively moving from working on a known problem, known market, and known customer, to starting everything from scratch.

Fast-forward a year, the company she co-founded at Entrepreneur First with Rachiket Arya, Jackett, has just announced their $1M seed led by Forge Ventures. 

Here we speak with Charlotte to learn about Jackett’s customer development journey, and how she and Rachiket built the company from a hunch, to tens of thousands of users.

Identifying the opportunity

“Education is a sector that has been behind in the distribution and adoption of technology as compared to other industries.

But because of the pandemic, there was an adoption inflection” tells Charlotte.

“This seemed like an “Uber moment” for education with GPS accuracy in smartphones, and smartphones becoming ubiquitous. This adoption inflection in education has led to stakeholders in the system becoming receptive and bought into the idea of utilising digital tools to improve the classroom. Additionally, overnight everyone was using technology for teaching, learning and administration. This inflection created a monumental opportunity in edtech, dramatically larger than ever before, it has changed the rules”

The first thing she did with co-founder, Rachiket, who she met at Entrepreneur First, was focus on doing the one thing that doesn’t scale first: customer discovery and customer development. 

“Our ambition is to go global, but we had to come to a consensus on the specific problem, market and customer to even begin,” recalls Charlotte.

“We wanted to build a product that people love. Given that both of us had never worked in the education space before, that meant we had to learn as quickly as possible from teachers, tutors, parents, students, admi, all stakeholders in the industry.”

Starting from scratch is hard; there’s no connection, no foundation. They cold-messaged through a wide range of automated tools from LinkedIn, Facebook to Reddit threads to connecting, speaking and learning from people in education.

“We were asking everyone we knew to link us up with any teacher, tutor or principal that they knew. The goal was to talk to as many people from education that were willing to speak to us.” 

These conversations formed the basis for them to understand the intricacies within the education sector. With these, they were able to formulate and test hypotheses on problems that could be solved by technology.

“Ultimately, we were after a unique insight that brought to light a problem big and urgent enough to have willing paying customers, and an opportunity big enough to build a decacorn startup.

What really helped us progress through these conversations we were having was our commitment to adopt a data-driven approach. We made it such from the get-go, all decision-making was to be as objective as possible.

Whenever we discussed our findings, we were always asking ourselves questions: how many people have we spoken to, does it align with our vision, how big is the market?”

Both of them decided to start with India’s tutoring market, an emerging market where average class sizes are still very large and where innovation could add a lot of value. Rachiket also had a wide and extensive existing network to propel the way forward.

Testing hunches

To nail down a specific complex problem, they began testing a long list of hypotheses. 

“We designed a scoring mechanism to test all the hypotheses we had. So say, we have five hypotheses about the teacher’s pain point in the tutoring segment. Every time a teacher agrees or disagrees, we would give a score and rank based on that. 

These data points function like signals, indicating whether we were heading in the right direction. We would then make more targeted hypotheses to learn more, and get more and more detailed from there,” shares Charlotte.

They left no stone unturned.

Soon, they found a repeated pattern in the responses: teachers and tutors spend an excruciating amount of time making and marking assessments.

One tuition centre was so frustrated with how time-consuming making and marking assessments were, they’d even tried to hire a developer to build a tech solution. 

“That, for us, was a huge validation of the problem, people are going out of their way to build their own solution because their needs aren’t met by existing ones in the market,” says Charlotte.

Their next priority was to build their minimum viable product to prove that they have the solution for the hair on fire problem that teachers face.

Early adoption

While interest in the solution was high, finding a pool of early adopters was a different matter altogether. A good majority of those that expressed interest expected to get a complete product; some were looking for unique features to solve for their individual needs. 

“It was just the two of us at that time and we had to accept that we can’t build the perfect product from day one,” says Charlotte. “We ended up having to say no to a lot of opportunities.”

They eventually honed in on a small group of users who were willing to work with them, even recommending other colleagues to come on board. The team would spend an hour each week with them to first learn about their biggest challenges around making and marking assessments. They would then follow up by delivering a solution for feedback within a week. 

Through these iterative refinements, they came up with the minimum viable product that they rolled out to their early adopters. 


Over the following months, the team continued to iterate and refine their product into what is now Jackett; an app that empowers educators to create personalised assessments, gain a deeper understanding of students’ performance, and reduce their own administrative burden. Launched earlier this year, Jackett is now live across India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda and the Philippines. 

They’ve so far created over 50,000 assessment questions, and saved an estimated 7,000 hours in administration time.

Just last week, they celebrated yet another milestone with the announcement of their $1M Seed round to grow into new, emerging markets.

Charlotte and Rachiket believe that rigorous customer development is necessary to build a breakthrough product, their first step to create a future in education that’s personalised and scalable. 

“You are not your customer. There’s no other way but to adopt an exhaustive and methodical approach to build something radical that flips everything around.

You have to pull every lever you can get your hands on and test everything with data.” 

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