Designed a Mobile First 1-1 Coaching Platform to Connect Alumni and Students


Product Design


2023-2024 (7 months)


5 designers


Designed a Mobile First 1-1 Coaching Platform to Connect Alumni and Students


Product Design


2023-2024 (7 months)


5 designers


Designed a Mobile First 1-1 Coaching Platform to Connect Alumni and Students


Product Design


2023-2024 (7 months)


5 designers

project overview

Sidekick is a one-on-one coaching app that encounters a challenge common among startups: the Cold Start Problem, characterized by the absence of a specific strategy for launching the product.

As the product designer, I successfully pinpointed a niche market for career coaching between alumni and current students within the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). To address this, I devised a tailored solution that included adding new functions such as an AI chatbot and Single Sign-On (SSO) through the college's official app.

This project increase the user engagement by 30% from surveys of over 200 potential users.


Providing all kinds of mentoring without a niche market

Sidekick is a coaching platform that offers one-on-one mentoring sessions via video chat. Its initial business strategy was centered around the idea that "anyone can be a mentor". However, this approach has made it challenging for Sidekick to attract new users without targeting a niche market. Additionally, building trust between mentors and mentees has proven difficult, as there is no concrete evidence to demonstrate the credibility and trustworthiness of mentors on Sidekick. After 3 months of market research, my team and I found great opportunity in career coaching between alumni and current students. We locate the niche market in career coaching within our school: Savannah College of Art and Design(SCAD), where we can conduct primary research with students, alumni and SCAD career center.

problem statement

How might we help connecting alumni with current students and providing high-quality coaching session to students?

view the final solution

define and track kpi

user research

People are most interested in Career Coaching

Through the initial round of surveys, I found that 76% of respondents were interested in career coaching over other types of 1-on-1 coaching. This insight led me to target Sidekick's niche market specifically within career coaching. Drawing inspiration from LinkedIn's success in establishing a niche market in the Bay Area, I applied a similar strategy at my school, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), to initiate Sidekick's niche focus.

Career Coaching between alumni and current students solve the trust-building issue between mentors and mentees

After defining the niche market, I sent out 2 versions of the survey to collect how students and alumni's perspectives on career coaching. Here are some quick statistics:

94% Alumni

Willing to provide service to current students

70% Students

Soughted help from alumni in the past

63% Alumni

Sense of achievement is major motivation

75% Students

Willing to pay for one on one career consultation

Key insights


School should provide a public platform for alumni and current students.


Feedback and follow up mechanism increase the quality of coaching session.


Match-making system is crucial when connecting students with alumni.


With context, data, and direction – it was time to ideate

I invited the Sidekick's CEO and marketing team to a Co-Creation Workshop to brain storm ideas and align values

Detailed schedule of the co-creation workshop:

Brain storm solutions for user pain points

Clarify ideas using Journey Map

Categorize ideas use Prioritization Metics

We did Idea Development with SCAD Students bringing ideas within "strategic wins" and "high values" category of the prioritization metrics.

Final ideas we want to implement


AI Chatbot

  • Answer the standard-basic question that all students have, leaving tailored specific questions during the coaching session

  • Assist booking and canceling appointment

  • Help students find a suitable mentor

  • Provide session report


Detailed Introduction of Alumni

  • Alumni's major, graduation year, work experience, social media link and portfolio

  • Alumni's completed session and number of connections with alumni

  • Session reviews


Access the App through college's official app

  • Use SSO(single -sign-on) to sign in through college, or sign on through Google or Apple

  • Increase the credibility of mentors with SSO

user testing

With context, data, and direction – it was time to ideate

Round 1: Test the user flow through conversational prototyping

Stage 1: Service Concept Validation

To validate our service concept, we simulated conversations between service providers (our team) and customers(SCAD students and alumni) to explore assumptions about customer needs and goals.

Stage 2: Iterations

Based on insights from stage 1, we refine the conversational interactions.

Stage 3: Designing Multi-Touchpoint Interactions

We use insights from conversatioanl prototype to map out the customer jouney and integrate various channels including AI chatbot along the way.

Round 2: Usability Test with mid-fidelity prototype

We tested the mid-fidelity prototype using a the framework with dividing into four categories: entering the service, matchmaking, and AI chatbot.

We use mid-fidelity app mockup test the first two category, and use a ChatGPT Bot to test the third category. We gathered insights based on participant responses and behavioral obeservations to conclude the following:


Bot personalization

25% has the answer they wanted from the chat bot


AI session feedback

5% were comfortable having AI monitoring during the session


Mentor profile

45% chose the mentor without doubt


Usability, IA & verbosity

80% had a seamless journey free of interaction issues


Mission at a glance

100% understood the mission in under 10 seconds


Trust building between users

100% access the app through college's app

Needs improvement

Area of strength

the solution

Bring awareness of current students

Bring awareness of current students

Enhancing user trust in Sidekick app via integration with college's official platforms

The Sidekick app is accessible to students directly through the SCAD official mobile app, a strategic move designed to inherently foster trust among its users. Moreover, alumni are provided the convenience of Single Sign-On (SSO), enabling them to seamlessly download the app from the App Store. This integration not only simplifies the user journey but significantly contributes to building a reliable and secure user environment.


Streamlining Mentor Selection for Students

Sidekick empowers students to select their mentors by providing access to detailed profiles featuring the mentor's major, comprehensive work experience, session completion records, and reviews. Additionally, links to the mentors' portfolios offer a deeper insight into their professional capabilities.

Operating under a B2B2C model, Sidekick ensures that while the schools purchase the service, students can avail themselves of this mentorship opportunity at no additional cost.

AI Chatbot

AI Chatbot

Before accessing the chatbot

During the user testing phase for our AI chatbot, a notable concern emerged regarding the AI's access to the content of coaching sessions. To address these privacy concerns effectively, we have introduced an option for users hesitant about AI access to opt for a version of the chatbot that excludes the session assistant functionality.

Match making with alumni(mentor)

Students can select the mentor manually, or use Sidekick bot to match make with a alumni.

Coaching scheduling assistant

Students can schedule and reschedule the coaching session

Coaching session assistant

For user who allow AI to access the coaching session, Sidekick bot provides session report and suggestions on communicating. For users who do not feel comfortable with AI access meeting content, the bot will have no such function.

next step

AI Chatbot Implementation

While the foundation has been laid with the scripting for the AI chatbot, the next pivotal step involves its full-scale implementation through advanced technological integration. This phase will focus on transitioning from script to a functional, interactive AI system that seamlessly integrates with the Sidekick app, enhancing user engagement and support.

Expansion Beyond SCAD

Currently, Sidekick’s pilot phase is strategically launched within SCAD. The future roadmap includes broadening our collaboration to encompass more colleges, aiming to bring the unique mentorship and support model of Sidekick to a wider student base.

next step

If you want to know more about the project, please schedule a meeting with me!

© 2024 Xier Che. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Xier Che. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Xier Che. All rights reserved.