Top tips for building a successful Edtech company

Want to start a successful Edtech company? Here's how with advice from six leaders in the field of education innovation

Technology is transforming the way we learn – as students, for professional development or personal fulfillment.

Globally, education is a trillion dollar market. But how easy is it to start your own Edtech company?

The Edspace team asked six members – all accomplished entrepreneurs in the field of education innovation – to share their advice on what it takes to build a successful Edtech company:

Alice Lacey, CEO & co­founder, now>press>play

A social enterprise improving access to learning with educational resources that bring the curriculum to life through sound, story and movement.

“There is no silver bullet for selling into education. Selling to schools is really hard work but on the upside it’s not complicated. It’s just a matter of plugging away and harnessing word of mouth as much as you can.”

Edward Fidoe, director, KP Fox

A strategy company that works with start-ups and clients with a focus on innovation in education.

“Understand how schools work. They are fundamentally different to other organisations. They run to a timetable, tech malfunctions are higher stakes, and if one student’s device fails, the whole class could be held up.

“Teachers want tech that is simple, reliable, and helps them do something they were already going to do.

Don’t pilot with an outlier/innovative school. Work with a ‘standard’ one. You’ll better understand the real life blocks to new tech and develop a more scalable product.

“Think twice before building an end­to­end platform for learning. The successful players tend to be niche, focused on maths or behaviour or university application process.”

Iona Loveridge, operations manager, Emerge Education

A London­-based accelerator programme for start-ups aiming to improve educational outcomes worldwide.

“We place as much weight on team competency and the character of the founder as we do on the idea and business model. A brilliant idea can only go so far without the right team behind it. Building a start-up is hard work, it takes grit and stamina.”

Aldo de Pape, founder, TeachPitch

A platform for teachers to identify the best online resources.

“You don’t need to be a teacher to successfully launch a product that helps teachers.

It helps from a PR level but it isn’t crucial. It is more important to come up with a technology that solves a real problem.

“Many tech solutions do great stuff, but if there isn’t any pain relief for the target group, it will be more difficult to grow. This is especially true in the education market.”

George Burgess, founder & CEO, Gojimo

A UK­-based provider of study assistance applications for students.

“Accept that you won’t get it right first time. Many of us have false starts and no product is ever 100% right the first time you release it. Build in a test­measure­adapt cycle to your product or service design then you are more likely to be successful in the long term.

Get the right people from the beginning, whose skills complement your own. Get it wrong and you’ll be unpicking poor decisions and badly executed work for months.

The good news is that once you’ve worked out who you need to attract and how to go about doing it, your life becomes a whole lot easier.”

Jen Lexmond, CEO & founder, EasyPeasy

A coaching app for parents that improves the home learning environment and ensures children achieve a good level of development by the time they start at school.

“Do your research. There are so many solutions out there in search of a problem. It can be an easy mistake to make when you’ve come up with an exciting idea and get carried away thinking that others have the same needs and motivations as you. But they don’t!

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned, not just from being an entrepreneur, but from years working in user research, is to start with the people you are designing for.

What are their lives like? What do they struggle with? What delights them? These are the types of questions any entrepreneur should be asking themselves when they start out ­­ before the product or service design starts, before the strap line brainstorm, before the social media strategy session.”

Edspace is a community and shared work space for everyone who wants to transform education. Find out more about our range of support, events and classes, networking opportunities and membership packages: www.edspace.io

Thank you to the education pioneers who gave their time and insight.

Adapted from an article written by Edspace and first published on disrupts.co.uk

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