May 21, 2015
Whether you are an investor looking for a new profitable and socially-minded business or an avid entrepreneur focuses on hot new industries where you can have an impact, the educational-technology (ed tech) sector should be at the top of your list.
According to CB Insights, ed tech funding has increased up to 55% last year and hit $1.87 billion. The sector continues to show rapid growth in 2015 and offers an outstanding opportunity for entrepreneurs to drastically change people’s lives and the global economy as well.
The U.S. education system needs changes. As student debt balloons, professors admit that new students often are “less prepared and less motivated for the rigors of college, are more likely to argue about assignments and grades.” Employers point out on the huge gap between the skills employees will need and those new job seekers, raising the rates of graduate unemployment.
Nevertheless, the system is gradually changing. Ivy League colleges now offer free online courses, more educators test new tools and implement new techniques like the flipped classroom or scheduled Skype discussion groups. According to the Center for Digital Education, U.S. public elementary schools, colleges, and universities plan to spend over $20.4 billion on ed tech in 2015, meaning more investment in blended learning – a mixture of face-to-face and online instruction; interactive boards, more PCs, and a fair share of investment in personalized learning – different educational activities tailored to students’ personal needs as determined by frequent assessments.
However, technology could never outperform a real educator. The best ed tech products must assist the educator and help them gain more free time and empower them with new tools to deliver better, up-to-date, practical knowledge.
Before jumping onto the ed tech bandwagon, remember the next few points:
- State governmental regulations in education can create major obstacles for innovation due to the slow pace of the decision making process.
- System-wide purchasing cycles in colleges and schools run for nearly a year. That’s why offering a freemium pricing model can be a smart decision as more individual educators would become early adopters of your tools.
- Mind the fact that standards and policies vary from state to state, making the institutional sales process more complicated and often increasing development costs.
To succeed in ed tech, take into account the following guidelines as well:
- Make sure the technology you are offering is aimed at assisting educators, not replacing them. Offer solutions that can foster innovation, make the educators’ lives simpler, instead of merely digitizing a paper-based system.
- Get to know your audience. If you assume you know how teachers think just because you went to college, you are probably wrong. Take time to understand the educational system’s current needs, problems, trends and policies. Do prior research and spend some time meeting school and university teachers, administration and governmental representatives. Browse around education blogs and communities to hear their voices and understand their needs.
- Have a clear, realistic revenue plan in mind. Make sure you see a clear path how you plan to generate profits with the following factors in mind: sales cycles, institutions’ and educators’ funding sources and budgets, and value added by your product or service.
Last of all – stay authentic and be motivated by mission, not the money. Education deserves innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs, who offer actionable solutions both for students and teachers. Above all, commit yourself and your company to improving education and students’ lives.
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