The 5 Challenges of an Edtech Entrepreneur
Edtech entrepreneurs are optimists, but that doesn't mean they don't have their share of challenges.
1. Conducting Business in an Academic World
Academia marches to the beat of a different drummer than the business world. Even their calendar is different.
Working within the same constraints that schools face means planning an adoption far in advance of your rollout, establishing a summer professional development schedule, and waiting for payment - often not until school budgets open in September.
INSTEAD: Adjust your schedule to the needs of the school.
Student information falls into a variety of confidential arenas, including, HIPAA and FERPA, so you'll have to address data security. The same people who can stand up to unruly middle school students without batting an eyelash find compromised student data to be one of the scariest things imaginable.
And rightly so.
INSTEAD: State up front that you understand the importance of student confidentially and then prove it.
Change is hard for everyone, but it's hardest for edtech entrepreneurs who live in a fluid, fast-paced world that evolves constantly. Schools do not adapt and change as quickly as you do. You'll be working with schools that are better at resisting change than Odysseus resisted the Sirens.
Many educators, teachers and administrators alike, are skeptical of edtech, and some are downright fearful that your product will replace them.
INSTEAD: Show how your edtech serves as a tool and solves a problem.
Edtech is a booming business - to the tune of $1.36B in 2014 alone. Your business plan needs more than an MVP; it needs a sustainable model. You've got to develop a product that addresses a need, solves it, provides continuous support and doesn't eat all your profits (or your savings).
INSTEAD: Help schools become your customer by showing them how to write grants for funding or formulate payment plans.
The outdated model of sending a sales force to routinely visit districts may be a thing of the past because of the expense. Social media is an excellent marketing tool for many businesses, but academia is generally slow to engage with products based solely on social media.
The savvy edtech entrepreneur has to be creative in finding academic support.
INSTEAD: Create relationships and provide value.