User Persona & Empathy Mapping

The 1 Line Description

A powerful tool to help you better understand your target audience.

When to use it

In the early stages of customer discovery, while still getting to know the problem space you’re tackling.

Key Ideas

* This content is primarily targeted at early-stage EdTech Entrepreneurs, but should be useful for other early-stage entrepreneurs as well. 

Before we dive into the content on how to develop and test a prototype, it is important that you think a little bit about what your potential user looks like and what will convince them to use your product. 

We will be giving you some background information to help you understand what a user persona is and how empathy mapping can support the process of understanding your users. The aim of the exercise that follows is to build a solid understanding of the different user segments you may ultimately service with your solution.


A fictional, “best guess” representation of your ideal user


  • To help you understand who will be using the product
  • To build empathy with your target users by identifying exactly what they need from the product you’re designing
  • A persona is generally based on user research and incorporates the needs, goals, and observed behaviour patterns of your target audience
  • A persona also highlights the issues and pain points your users currently face in their day to day lives


A quick effective way to develop and elaborate on your solution’s user personas is through a process called empathy mapping


An empathy map is a very quick, rough persona template


  • To identify target users to make effective design decisions
  • To draw out unexpected insights about user’s needs

Main points:

  • Thinking and Feeling, Seeing, Saying, Hearing
  • These points are meant to help you develop a user persona with details that will be helpful for your team to better understand their perspectives

Below is an example of an empathy map from one of our alumni companies called Uthini.

Example Case Study - Uthini

  • Uthini is a South African EdTech startup and one of Injini’s alumni, having participated in Cohort 1 in 2017
  • They created a solution that facilitates language learning via a chatbot and a native speaker
  • In 2017, they were planning to work with WITS University in South Africa to help upskill their medical students in two of the main local languages; isiZulu and isiXhosa
  • They were able to secure this partnership and work with university students, to help them acquire this skill that is a requirement for their degree, but would help them in their profession as well
  • See an example user persona for Uthini: Nikita, who is a 3rd-year medical student at WITS
  • Nikita serves as a good example of a potential user for Uthini’s product




Work together as a team to put together 3-4 different user personas that you think your business can serve. Try your best to think like the user and not like the developer of the product.