edtech

With graduation ceremonies behind us now, the world is flush with a new crop of bright-eyed hopefuls chomping at the bit to blaze trails. And for some, that will involve coming back to an environment they had only just left behind: Education.

Those with tech ambitions and a burning desire to revolutionize the educational system may find themselves in the edtech category. And why not? It’s a hot field these days, as companies like Udacity, Coursera, and Top Hat Monocle are raking in several millions of dollars in funding. And by all accounts, that niche will only grow. Venture capitalists invested nearly $430 million in educational tech companies in 2011. By 2015, the market size in the U.S. could hit $1.2 trillion.

Unfortunately, breaking into this area isn’t so simple. But MBAonline.com recently completed its guide to success for edtech startups, and there are some useful tidbits in here for budding techpreneurs.

The article identifies three popular areas of the edtech market:

  • digital alternatives to brick-and-mortar educational institutions, like Udacity and Coursera
  • learning management systems that support traditional with online tools for classroom management, tutoring and more
  • products, including hardware and software — both emerging and existing — that can transform the educational experience

These are far-ranging ends of the spectrum, but they do share some similarities — like certain obstacles particular to educational institutions. This sector has a well-deserved reputation for being underfunded, hierarchical and inefficient. In fact, the rules and bureaucracy can stymy even the brightest upstarts. But creative tech founders are discovering that the old rules leave a lot to be desired, and in lieu of starting from the top and going down, they’re taking on a bottom-up approach instead by appealing to guidance counselors, teachers and students. That’s certainly easier than trying to sway tight-fisted administrators, and it may even be more effective. 

Instructure co-founder Brian Whitmer told MBAonline that many traditional systems were developed with administrators in mind, since they’re the ones who make the decisions. “…what really matters,” says Whitmer, “is that end user experience. And if you can build something that can solves peoples’ problems and saves them time and helps them be more successful, then the administrators will love it even more than if it’s easy for (just) them to use.”

Of course, that old Field of Dreams mantra, “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply here. Edtech is a highly competitive market, and like many other tech startups, players in this field have to go out and court users, some of whom have already been burned by lackluster offerings. This is why so many start-ups often wind up going the free or freemium route (where initial cost of entry is gratis, but additional features are paid out per service). This is considered an essential in edtech these days. But once a userbase is established, they’re in the best position to realize the huge potential in this game.

After all, this is a field in sore need of disruption, and there are high stakes for visionaries who can make that happen. Today, the tools and talent exist, which means we’re on the cusp of a genuine transformation in education. Who will be at the forefront of that change? That still remains to be seen, but if you’re interested in being part of it, then hit up the source link for more advice and insights on what it takes to succeed in this fast-moving field.