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CASE STUDY

Building data into a platform from the start

Keith Elliott

CTO of Encantos

The Challenge

After a false start, Encantos had only a few months to build a data infrastructure for a bilingual education app it was about to launch.

The 5X Solution

5x designed a flexible approach to data infrastructure, installed and connected a stack of tools, and built an initial set of metrics dashboards.

The Result

The work was completed before the launch at a cost of less than 5% of what it would have been with Encantos’ previous consultant.

Industry Educational content Location Culver City, CA Employees 30

The Challenge

Building a “huge, data-driven thing” fast.

When he started as CTO of Encantos in February 2021, Keith Elliott’s assignment was to build a new platform to deliver bilingual educational content. It was an ambitious project, inspired by the company’s success developing characters for preschoolers it used for books, a TV series on Nick Jr., and a mobile app. The new plan would incorporate personalized content for kids up to age 12 from multiple publishers.

“We knew we wanted to build a huge, data-driven thing that would give kids good educational content based on data that would select the next best thing for them to see,” Elliott says. “But we didn’t have any data yet, and we hadn’t figured out what our data platform would be.”

Recovering from a false start

To move fast, Elliott decided to focus his internal team on developing the core platform and apps and to get outside help building the data infrastructure. He first hired a large consulting firm. From the start, it was the wrong fit.

“They were a great team if we were already a big company that wanted to scale to infinity,” Elliott says. “We needed somebody who could work with a company at our stage– building fast even as we are formulating our plan.”
“I needed to find a different solution very fast,” he recalls, “or I was going to be in a lot of trouble. I knew if we screwed up and had the wrong foundation for our data, we would waste a lot of work and miss a lot of opportunities.”

Finding 5X: “They understand”

With months to go before the September launch, Elliott worked his network to find a new partner that could help lay the initial groundwork for what was to become a sophisticated data-driven company.

Introduced to the leaders of 5X through a trusted friend, Elliott says he was impressed they had experience with companies like Encantos. “They have done this kind of work at large startups that were moving very fast in the way I envision our company moving,” he says.

In particular, 5X was secure working with the company’s rapidly evolving plans.
“They asked me a lot of questions about where we want to be in a year and a half,” Elliott says. “When I said, ‘We’re still working on it,’ they said, ‘No worries. We can build the foundation now and adapt as we go.”

The 5x Solution

5X quickly engaged with the Encantos team to assess its needs and plot a three-month roadmap to get the data infrastructure ready for the first app’s launch. “We made a simplified plan to get the data and pipe it to where it needs to be.”

At the same time, 5X helped prioritize the long list of analytics and data elements that the business team at Encantos envisioned using. It focused the initial effort on tracking metrics needed to build user engagement dashboards that could offer useful insights without needing an on-staff data scientist to analyze.

5X worked with Encantos to specify a stack of tools to collect, store, and analyze the data from its apps. 5X was also able to negotiate preferential pricing on these tools saving Encantos thousands of dollars a month. And it showed Encantos a more cost-effective approach to analytics than the expensive tool the company had planned to use.

At the same time, 5X helped prioritize the long list of analytics and data elements that the business team at Encantos envisioned using. It focused the initial effort on tracking metrics needed to build user engagement dashboards that could offer useful insights without needing an on-staff data scientist to analyze.

Encantos Data Stack

Data Collection
Data Collection
Data Ingestion
Data Ingestion
Data Storage
Data Storage
Data Modelling
Data Modelling
Data Reporting
Data Reporting

An offshore engineer who fits right in

As part of the engagement, 5X provided a full-time engineer based in Asia to integrate the data tools with the Encantos systems. “I didn’t have super high expectations for an offshore engineer,” Elliott says. “It can be difficult to integrate people into a team when there are time zone and language differences.”

“It turned out much better than I thought,” he adds. “The engineer was highly skilled and works so well with the team that we are rescheduling meetings to include him in more of them.”

The Results

Checking everything off the list and more Before the end of its initial three-month engagement, 5X completed all its initial projects for Encantos. “The whole process was seamless,” Elliott says. “We went through the plan and checked everything off. Even before the launch, we started working on things I didn’t expect to get to until much later.” Of course, this success brings on new challenges to work on with 5X. “Our chief data officer sees that we are ahead of schedule,” Elliott says, “So he’s pushing us with a new set of questions.”

5x Deliverables

  • Defining the technology roadmap for data in the new platform.
  • Selecting a stack of vendors for data collection and analysis. Arranging for preferential pricing.
  • Integrating data collection by the Encantos backend system, apps under development, and external tools.
  • Designing initial dashboards to track conversion funnel and content usage for the new app and website.

A cost so low the company could hire more engineers

5X completed the data foundation project significantly faster and for vastly less money, Elliott estimates, than the initial consulting firm would have. “We would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for something that wouldn’t have been ready in a year,” Elliott says. “That would be 20 or 25 times more expensive than 5X.”

Winning friends

The work that 5X has done has helped the engineers at Encantos win praise throughout the organization. “When I talk to the finance team, they tell me I really took to heart their mission to try to reduce costs,” Elliott says. “And I can’t tell you how many times the chairman of our board said, ‘You are doing this right by leading with data. A lot of startups wait too long.”

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