Monday, November 4, 2013

Education Success

I recently found EdSurge and subscribed to their newsletter in an attempt to keep up with the incredible numbers of new companies coming into the education sector.  As a consultant team that works to help these companies succeed, I was exceptionally pleased to see this first article by James Byers and Adam Frey from Wikispaces entitled OPINION: How to Succeed in Education Technology -

From the article -
"Yet they are still doomed to fail. While any young company faces risk, most of today's edtech companies will fail because:
  • They're chasing a trendy space without true, lasting passion for education;
  • They lack a business model that works in education and are afraid to charge their customers;
  • Their investors have consumer Internet expectations in a market with completely different dynamics;
  • It's easier to build novel technology than to deeply engage with students and teachers to understand their fundamental needs."
Nailed it. But I would add a few more things that cause failure - 
  • They don't fully understand what it takes to sell in the education market;
  • They underestimate the need for support and implementation at the school/teacher level;
  • They underestimate the cynicism in education - that teachers will wait for it all to blow over. 
Clayton Christenen recently said that education innovation is outstripping teacher and student ability to absorb that innovation.  

Byers and Frey tell aspiring edtech entrepreneurs that they need to first define success.  In their eyes this means sustainability by serving teachers, students and expanding the reach of the institution. I would get a little more granular and also know which critical metric you "own" that is causing educators pain.

To succeed you have to have passion for serving this market which is incredibly difficult to serve (see the list of obstacles they provide), you have to have a real business model and value that creates revenue, great marketing - that reaches through the clutter to this market, a deep connection to your customer that builds a community that cannot live without our product and value.

There are so many new ed tech companies and products that educators are overloaded. I saw at least three new LMS's last week that I had not heard about - each was supposedly the absolute best.  Educators are in overload mode and are basically shutting down because they hear so many pitches each week. 

Read this - and email us when you want to get it done.