Recruiting Real Educators: Good or Bad for the Ed-Tech Startup Model?
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca, Roman philosopher
At this juncture, preparation equals recruitment for EdConnective. For a solid year we've been hitting the pavement, stacking up air miles and train tickets to tell people across the country about our strategy helping teachers receive more observation and feedback through video coaching. This summer that hard work is beginning to pay off and new client relationships are forming, partly in response to our outreach efforts and because people are beginning to report positively about our work. To ensure we can serve all our customers, we've transitioned into full recruitment mode this August.
Often, ed-tech companies offer a product that is completely digital, such as Pear Deck and Infiniteach—two great startups. From a business perspective, these digital companies are attractive because they don't require a great amount of human capital to run and scale. Software and apps can be reproduced at relatively low cost with a few people behind the scenes running the show. Ventures like EdConnective and Enriched Schools, on the other hand, ameliorate pain points requiring a significant amount of human capital to solve. Venture capitalists are highly skeptical of businesses that depend on lots of humans. Such ventures are less likely to be funded because it can be inherently difficult to recruit, vet, and actively manage large numbers of employees once a venture begins serving thousands of clients across the nation (which is usually the goal).
A startup founder motivated by income would probably prefer to start a business that sells tech instead of human service. Like others out there, I'm driven more by social impact. Because of that, my product is driven by the impact it can make. To provide teacher support and enhance teacher efficacy through coaching, real humans must observe teachers and provide feedback. VCs would love it if we could have software analyzing video spitting out computerized feedback, but that's not best for teachers.
The Good News: Human Capital Tech Ventures Can Win
Yes, onboarding lots of workers may not be sexy to investors at first glance. Nevertheless, there are human capital ventures that have experienced wild success. Uber, for instance, is disrupting the taxi industry across the nation and internationally. For Uber, every single sale requires a human driver. Uber's business model requires the mobilization of thousands of people and the company has raised nearly $6 billion from some of the most well known investors in the world. What Uber did—and what ventures like EdConnective can imitatie—is leverage 21st century technology to greatly reduce the time, effort, and cost of human capital management. Startups emulating this can position ourselves to grow rapidly while maintaining quality control.
So for EdConnective, it's recruitment time! We are looking for highly effective instructional coaches to add to our team. We want people who can help teachers receive more high quality observation and feedback, especially when school leaders don't have the internal capacity or budget. We are unabashedly a human capital business using technology to amplify our reach. Each of our instructional coaches can reach 30 to 200 teachers a year with observation and feedback partnerships. By successfully leveraging a relatively small cadre of instructional experts, we can prove we are an ed-tech company anchored by human capital that is going places.