Iterating & Learning: How I Turned a Stepping Stone into a Monetized Destination

Seeking to Solve Prospective Nurses’ Preparation Dilemmas

Before nurses can claim the coveted RN and PN licenses, they must pass the NCLEX exam. It’s known to be incredibly challenging, and many nurses spend hundreds of hours studying and preparing for it. Being connected to several such nurses personally, I was inspired to create a tool (with the help of a developer friend) to make their preparation efforts easier. I named it Flornce (

The Flornce marketing site (Take a look here)

An MVP that wasn’t as viable as we hoped

Our plan was to build a minimum viable product (MVP) and launch to a small number of students that expressed initial interest. This would be our beta group before putting forth additional effort and planning a more significant launch.

After a relatively short time and moderate effort, we had some promising results:

  • A decent product, given the time and effort put into it.
  • A decent amount of web traffic, despite being new to the space.
  • A decent amount of feedback, even though more would have been helpful.
Inside Flornce (Go ahead and poke around)

However, we were missing an important thing: Trust.

Thus, when we launched, especially into an already crowded space, our product fell flat. Given how “green” we were, our price point was not considered competitive enough when compared to bigger players. In addition, our question bank was not as comprehensive, and that’s a significant area of differentiation for these types of exam prep tools.

Lesson: The space was already validated, so we needed to launch with a fully-fledged offering that provided lots of value at an attractive price point and a great user experience.

A few updated designs based on user feedback

Backtracking and Taking a Different Approach

After our first launch, we tried to go back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, life got in the way for my developer partner, which caused us to stall in our progress. Left to my own devices, I reviewed all available data and looked at the product and process from a different perspective to determine how best to proceed.

No stone left unturned

The answer came in the form of a previously neglected stepping stone. While marketing and generating buzz for Flornce, I created a simple funneling offer called Daily NCLEX Challenge (DNC). It was originally meant to get nursing students onto my email list and queue them up for a pitch on Flornce.

I even got to step outside my usual skillset and dove into a bit of SEO, managing to rank the associated landing page for easier keywords the audience used.

The premise was that students would sign up for and receive one NCLEX-style question, along with the answer and rationale, every day.

Given the lack of progress with Flornce, I gamed out monetizing DNC. Before moving forward, I spoke with the nurses I was connected to and posed the idea to get their thoughts and reactions. The overall sentiment was that the concept held merit, would be “useful”, and was worth paying a nominal fee.

From validation to testing

After validating my new product idea, I went into full production mode.

I began by overhauling the design of the landing page. Previously, I hadn’t put as much time or effort into this area since it was not the main attraction. Now I gave it the attention it needed, making sure to convey a friendly but professional tone and that there was minimal friction in the user experience.

Old design on the left, updated design on the right (or view it live)

The new design alone resulted in several percentage upticks in conversion versus the old page, providing strong evidence that I was on the right track. However, to successfully transform this previously free offer into a dual free and paid one, I also needed to revamp the copy to communicate the product’s value. I had to really underscore how the paid version of DNC, while only $5 per month, was worth someone taking out their credit card.

As part of my testing, I implemented a robust web tool called FullStory, which enabled me to thoroughly track visitor sessions. Being able to see where visitors looked, for how long, and more gave me key data points to refine and optimize the landing page. For example, this data informed my decisions to place testimonials near the top of the page and to use a specific type of NCLEX-style question.

Once I iterated the design and copy verbiage and placement on the page, I sent out an email to my entire list announcing the product change. Unsurprisingly, a moderate amount of my list unsubscribed (about 200). Anticipating such a reaction, I offered users who switched to the paid version within 24 hours a 50% discount. I was thrilled to get a surprising stream of payment notifications throughout the day!

Looking Ahead

While my initial product idea didn’t go as planned, part of the groundwork I laid for Flornce wound up being a diamond in the rough. DNC could clearly shine on its own, but I wouldn’t have seen its potential for success without the Flornce setback.

Moving forward, Flornce is shelved for the time being, though it still has lots of potential based on the feedback I received from users. Instead, I will focus on marketing, promoting, and adding value to DNC, as its success continues growing day by day.

Published February 2019