Coding education company for kids, codeSpark, used Mixpanel to increase student retention, lesson completion, and paying customers

Pasadena, CA
Consumer Technology
Content Company


codeSpark is a SaaS-based education company teaching young children how to code by turning programming into play. Since launching in 2014, over 20 million kids in 208 countries have learned the ABCs of computer science with codeSpark’s flagship app, codeSpark Academy.


codeSpark needed product analytics to ensure the games and lessons it built kept students engaged and ultimately taught them the basics of programming. Like many subscription-based platforms, codeSpark wanted to track, analyze, and measure how students converted from free in-school users to paying at-home subscribers.

“When my co-founder Joe Shochet and I started codeSpark we preached the importance of understanding customer metrics, engagement metrics, conversion funnels, et cetera,” said Grant Hosford, CEO & Co-founder. “We implemented Mixpanel specifically to analyze user behavior and the overall health of our product.”

codeSpark’s primary business goals were twofold: one, keep students engaged with the product past the one-month mark; and two, encourage free users to convert into paying subscribers.


codeSpark chose Mixpanel in order to understand every student’s journey within its web and mobile platform and get instant insights on how to make improvements to the product. “The app is complex. We could have made a laundry list of things that needed improvement. Before we invested engineering resources in any changes, we wanted to see what changes would have the largest impact,” said Grant. “We needed Mixpanel to accurately assess what in our app was working and what wasn’t.”

It was important for the product team to rely on the data, stay nimble, and be able to make changes on the fly. “When it came to understanding user behavior, it came down to three major priorities: optimizing conversion rates through on-boarding and subscription funnels, improving retention, and increasing engagement over time.”


Increasing paying subscribers by 10%

“You might assume your users are doing one thing, but have you looked at the funnel?” asked Grant. “With Mixpanel, we keep ourselves honest on how people really use the app. When we find something surprising, we dig deeper into the reports to follow their user journey.”

codeSpark looked to Mixpanel to determine the right price point for its new subscription service. When the product team launched the paid version of the app they relied on Funnels to find the “sweet spot” for their pricing. “With Funnels, we do conversion testing for the subscription service. We’re constantly running different offers in order to see what’s the ultimate price point that drives the most signups with our students,” he said.

Improving subscriber retention

Measuring returning users over time is a mission-critical metric, especially for a SaaS education platform like codeSpark. “We look carefully at month-one renewals because that’s a very good indicator if someone will be a recurring user of the platform,” said Grant.

codeSpark used Mixpanel’s Retention reports and People properties to ensure the consumers they were targeting to join the platform were the right audience. Based on successful cohorts in the past, codeSpark used product analytics to hone its ideal student profile.

“We analyze by cohort all the time. We often compare the retention of those who come to us during Hour of Code, versus a school program, versus some other promotional partner.”

In addition, the product team wanted to learn where there were higher or lower drop-off rates. Monitoring and measuring the drop-off rates was a way to ensure that the difficulty levels matched the skill levels of the lessons.

For example, if level three had unusually high drop-off rates, this could indicate that the lessons in one and two didn’t successfully prepare the student for the next challenge.

codeSpark integrated its testing tool TestFlight with Mixpanel to monitor completion rates and session length of students on new levels.

“Before every launch, we beta test with 200 teachers around the country. We do live testing through TestFlight, and we make sure that there’s no unusual drop-off point.” Mixpanel tracking and Funnels allowed the product team to make educated changes and optimize the platform to keep students coming back.

Increasing completion rates of female students by 20%

“Our mission is to bring computer science for all. Every kid, no matter their socioeconomic background or gender should be able to learn how to code with our platform. With this in mind, we make sure our app is inclusive and keeps students engaged.” Grant said, “Through People properties and Insights, we saw that female cohorts were playing our games differently than male students.”

In order to increase overall engagement on the app, codeSpark saw an opportunity to increase the session length with female users, while also making its platform more inclusive.

“Girls were completing puzzles at a lower rate, so we tried some experiments to see what might drive more engagement and interest in the lessons,” Grant said.

Mixpanel People reports gave the team the tools they needed to identify drop-off rates and see where they needed to iterate change so students would stay engaged in their lessons.

“Now that we’ve built a platform that’s fun for all kids, our app is about 50% boys and 50% girls,” said Grant. “One test had a dramatic impact: When we introduced a simple story for each A Lesson, we saw a 20% lift in completion rates amongst our female students.”