Four important things to consider if you’re new to EdTech
Education can, in some cases, still be a world of fax machines and Gateway computers running Windows 98. Because of this, a lot of technologists are flocking to the EdTech sector, and the investment money is following. Companies in the EdTech sector raised $1.85 billion in 2015, and it looks like that number is going to continue to rise.
Education is a huge market, and you want to be a part of it with your new app or online management SaaS platform. Here are four do’s and don’ts to consider when starting an EdTech Company.
Do Get To Know Education
The biggest mistake that EdTech company founders make by far is not knowing their market. Go to conferences, attend sessions and breakouts and listen to what educators are actually talking about. Arrange for focus groups. Sponsor activities at your local school and hang out there, talk to teacher and principals and administrators. You have to immerse yourself in the world of education.
Being a 6th grade math teacher and being the CEO of your own tech startup are on opposite ends of the experience spectrum. Just because you took 6th grade math doesn’t mean you know what it is like for 6th grade math teachers, so don’t assume that you know what is best for them when developing your products.
Don’t Solve Problems That Don’t Exist
Make sure every product you develop is solving real problems in the daily life of educators and administrators and that it can be made to have practical and accessible pricing.
An EdTech company in Florida developed a prototype real-time classroom management app for the iPad, and the developers (with a combined zero years of education experience) were very excited about how deep and granular the app could go for each student. When they showed it to teachers, the teachers all agreed it was really cool, but when asked if they would use it, every one said, “Not a chance. I can’t be staring at an iPad in front of my class when I should be teaching.”
Before you spend a truckload of your or your investors’ money on the slickest app you can think of, consider what the price is going to have to be in order to be profitable. Then look at pricing standards in education. Budgets are notoriously tight. You don’t want to open a Ferrari dealership in a West Texas ranching town. Everybody will tell you they like your Ferraris, but you won’t get any sales.
Do Choose Your Names Wisely
This is not as important with the name of your company as it is the name of your product(s). Think twice about having your first product be the same name as the company, as it can cause confusion and be limiting when developing new products.
Alternate spellings of words or combining parts of words into a name is popular, but not always a great idea. It’s rarely as cute or clever as you might think, and if someone knows your product name is Fun Academy, but you spell it PhunAkadamee, people won’t find you on a Google search.
Finally, run the name by educators before finalizing it. A startup in Indiana developed a student management system named Homeroom which they thought was a great fit. Then they finally asked working teachers who told them homeroom is an unpleasant place, usually first thing in the morning, where neither the teachers nor the students want to be there. Clearly they didn’t want to name their product something with a negative connotation.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
EdTech is a very crowded industry, and your product or platform is not going to get through the clutter without careful planning and executing of a solid marketing and communications strategy from the beginning. If you don’t have the time or experience to spend on it, find a consultant or marketing and strategy group that specializes in education. The payoff will be worth the investment.