Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2014 (Revised May 2015)

Open English

by Jeffrey J. Bussgang and Lisa Mazzanti


Open English, a Miami-based startup offering online English language learning services, had more than 30,000 active students across Latin America in 2012. The company had just closed a $43 million financing round in order to rapidly scale its service to the next level. Nicolette Moreno, Co-founder and Vice President of Product Development, felt that a substantial portion of the new funding was needed to rework Open English's platform to enable the additional growth. She was concerned that the company's learning platform (LP)—the core set of software systems used to deliver online lessons—was beginning to show its age. Although one path would be to shore up the LP's capacity incrementally to allow the company to sustain its momentum with minimal disruption, Nicolette felt it was just a matter of time before they had to tackle a complete rewrite of the platform. Although daunting to undertake, a rewrite would allow the company to grow beyond the current LP's capabilities and position them for future success. Nicolette needed to give the board a full sense of what she saw—was now really the right time for a complete rewrite of the LP? What were the risks? And how should she approach the effort?

Keywords: technology strategy; product management; Startup; entrepreneurship; online learning; Technology Platform; Entrepreneurship; Business Startups; Technology Industry; Miami; Venezuela;


Bussgang, Jeffrey J., and Lisa Mazzanti. "Open English." Harvard Business School Case 814-020, January 2014. (Revised May 2015.)