Build Mode Logo
Request access to A.Team's member-only platform
I'm looking for high-quality work
Request access to build with teammates you like on meaningful, high-paying work.
I'm looking for top tech talent
Request access to work with high-performing teams of tech’s best builders — to build better, faster.

How A.Team Helped McGraw Hill Build the 'TikTok for Studying'

Sharpen reinvents studying for the social media age with a feed of bite-sized videos, swipeable study tools, and gamified quizzes.

Sharpen, a new study app from McGraw Hill, one of the "big three" textbook giants, provides a continuous feed of bite-sized videos, swipeable study tools, and gamified quizzes that mimics the feel of TikTok and Instagram Reels with the gamified incentives of Duolingo.

It’s addictive. It’s delightful. And in the business world, it’s the rarest thing of all: an example of digital transformation that actually worked.

In our latest episode of Build Different, we explore the story of how a 130-year-old company transformed studying for the 21st century with a little help from A.Team:

The backstory

McGraw Hill had a seemingly impossible task: Make studying fun. A.Team saw their vision and quickly assembled a highly-skilled team of builders to provide McGraw Hill with the support they needed to create their first-ever direct-to-student app that could serve users around the globe. 

A.Team and McGraw Hill started with a small, three-person team to build a prototype to test with students. Following an overwhelmingly positive response, McGraw Hill’s A.Team grew to eight product builders for the MVP, and then expanded again to an A.Team of 27 builders—spanning software architects, product managers, mobile developers, and growth marketers—leading up to Sharpen’s launch in October 2022.

A.Team gave us the agility to quickly scale up and down with the resources needed to get to market sooner.

With A.Team's help, Sharpen was built in record time, giving students access to an extensive library of multimedia next-generation study resources to grow their skills and expand their educational horizons.  Sharpen was quickly adopted amongst thousands of students across the country, splashed across the front page of Forbes (Students Viewed This Type of TikTok 412 Million Times—And It's Not Porn), and led McGraw Hill's latest earnings report as it recorded a 28% growth in its digital billings.

"It’s hard to scale and bring together a team with different capabilities in a short period of time," said Justin Singh, McGraw Hill’s Chief Transformation and Strategy Officer. “From the start, A.Team enabled us to prototype and iterate more efficiently. Then ultimately, at the product development stage, they gave us the agility to quickly scale up and down with the resources needed to get to market sooner.”

For the world-class engineers and product builders that worked on McGraw Hill's A.Team, building something that had such an outsized impact for good was incredibly fulfilling.

“As an independent contractor, I prefer working on missions that I can feel connected to for the long term,” said A.Team iOS developer Lyndsey Scott. “This mission with McGraw Hill has been an exciting opportunity to build something from scratch, take ownership over an innovation that I personally felt inspired by, while working alongside other talented builders.” 

Through Sharpen, McGraw Hill has shown what true digital transformation looks like for enterprise companies—proving that anything is possible when you have the right team.

If you're interested in building transformative products with world-class product and engineering teams, request access to A.Team here.

mission by
For people who want to build things that matter & lead great teams
Check out the latest stories from Mission — A.Team's newsletter for builders designing the future of work.
By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.