December 5th, 2018

Starting an EdTech Firm- What You Need to Know

To be perfectly clear, Education Technology is a term that refers to the idea of utilizing technology in the impartment of technology. It is also commonly referred to as EdTech or EduTech. The existence of EdTech should come as no surprise. Technology has impacted every one of our industries, as well as our day to day activities, and education has been no exception- and why would it be? EdTech can take quality education to every nook and corner, enable educators to scale-up by tapping unexplored territories, and help institutions in making the dissemination of knowledge more efficient and standardized. Over the last 15 or so years, we have seen a number of entrepreneurs develop EdTech solutions. Despite this, the field is still broadly untapped and the coming decade is sure to see many more entrepreneurial attempts to realize the potential of EdTech. If you intend to be one of those entrepreneurs, then there are some factors that you must bear in mind…

What is your niche? 

The education sector is a vast one. No technology solution can cater to all of it and trying to do so will produce a shallow and unsatisfying product. When laying down the groundwork for an EdTech firm, an aspiring entrepreneur must first understand exactly what their niche is. They must, before all else, have a “solution statement”- meaning that they must understand exactly what problem they intend to solve. 

Having your house in order

Even before a firm is formally established, certain topics must be made crystal clear. All of the firm’s cofounders must understand what their role is at the company, their respective equity shares, their degree of involvement, and the core vision of the company. Many entrepreneurs try to avoid talking about these ‘uncomfortable’ topics, only to regret it when things get complicated at crucial stages of the organization’s growth. This is critical advice for all types of startups, not just EdTech one’s. 

The quality of your content

Academic content is a crucial, elemental aspect of any EdTech product that is, nevertheless, often only given a second thought. A significant proportion of EdTech firms face serious difficulty because they are run by tech-entrepreneurs who underestimate the need to have high-quality educational content. It does not matter how fancy the software looks, how cutting edge the features are, and how intuitively the tool works. Unless the firm also has useful academic content, it will not succeed. Content is the lynchpin of an EdTech firm’s offerings. 

The reliability of the technology team

If you are an academician who is looking to take your knowledge to a wider audience, with the help of EdTech, then you need to make securing a technology team a priority. Technology is, obviously, at the core of an EdTech firm’s work. That technology will need constant upgrading and debugging. Whether the technology team is developed in house, taken on as a technology partner that shares equity, or just hired as a vendor, having a strong and stable technology team is essential. 

The nature of your starting product

There is no such thing as a “perfect product”. The final version of a successful product is never the same as the first version and all technology products undergo regular updates and changes. One must not chase ‘perfection’ but rather, be willing to continually make progress on the product. This is why it is better to go-to-market as early as possible, even if the product is simple, rather than trying to make it fancy and delaying the go-live process. 

The beta testing

No matter how reliable or how keen they are, all testing teams miss some bugs. This is why it is very important to put the product through a rigorous round of beta testing, after the internal testing has given it a bug-free result. This will catch all of the bugs and also has the additional benefit of providing broad feedback on the users’ experience with the product. Once the product is declared bug-free, in the beta testing, and gets positive feedback, it will be time to go for the formal launch!

The marketing plan

Every EdTech firm needs a solid marketing plan to go along with its product. This plan must be geared towards achieving ‘critical volume’. Critical volume is the number of licenses sold that will successfully get word of mouth going on the product, and kick off sales. This marketing plan will also need to be carefully budgeted. The budget needs to be spread across multiple avenues, rather than all invested into one. Small milestones must be set, with which to measure progress. One very important aspect of marketing is to, periodically, revisit the sales and adapt to any change in circumstances. 

The response to feedback

First of all, it is important to have multiple avenues for users to submit feedback and report problems. These avenues should be present at all key places in the software. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, it needs to be warmly acknowledged to all users. After all, those users are the ones that will become the product’s brand ambassadors. 

Crucial: The enterprise must be built to be “profitable” not “fundable”

This too is advice that is applicable to all entrepreneurs. No firm should be driven by the noise around “So and so secured this much funding.” A company needs to be built on an inspiration to establish a profitable enterprise, not just one that will be good at securing funds. Remember this, if a firm shows that it can deliver profit, the investors will come to it!

Mayank Srivastava

Mayank Srivastava is the Founder of Experts’ Global, one of the world’s leading EdTech firms in the field of GMAT prep and MBA admission consulting.