When the pandemic hit in early 2020 universities and schools across the nation were faced with the challenge of creating and maintaining their communities online. At Novalsys Inc our main product is CampusGroups which is primarily sold to universities around the globe. Our clients overwhelmingly needed a solution to turn their in-person large-scale events like Career Fairs or Student Org Fairs into an online experience.
We chose to tackle this problem as a team, starting with a hall hands brainstorm session. Our globally remote team came together to try to understand the problem that we were facing because of the global shutdown. Putting our heads together we came to the conclusion our current features couldn't be adapted to resolve their problem so we needed to innovate.
After a verbal brainstorm session, it was very clear who were visual thinkers, and who can build visuals in their head from an idea session. Several of my colleagues left the brainstorm session confused, and unsure about what solution we were about to build. This included some of the developers who were tasked to build it, and our sales team who was ready to sell a product that didn't quite exist yet.
I left this meeting with a clear vision of what this new feature might look like for our clients. At this time we didn't yet have a formal process in place for designers and developers to work together to build the product. I had the overwhelming desire to want to help everyone to understand the solution we were about to build so I set out to build a digital sketch of the feature.
My first round of sketches was then used as a starting point for our sales, development, and client teams to begin selling and building this product within a few short weeks.
We were able to secure 3 client deals with only first-round sketches and in the following weeks, the development team was able to push out a beta version. In 2020 we had a total of 96 schools create over 212 fairs. These fairs had over 16k booths for users to visit and 116k fair participants visited booths 618k times. 60% of the booths used our video conferencing feature and sent 128k chat messages.
The virtual fairs feature is now an essential feature of our product that sets us apart from our competitors. As the product evolved we adapted it to use even more of our existing features.