Most entrepreneurs (and VCs!) in the edtech space are in it not only as a business opportunity, but also because we care about educational opportunity. As a result, many of us feel the need to balance impact and return. I believe true impact is derived primarily from these two factors: 1. A product that adds real value to your users (QUALITY), and 2. A product that has a far-reaching user base (SCALE)
Starting the PioNears ambassador program was one of our best decisions during the early stages of our growth. Our ambassadors brought classroom experience, a deep understanding of our tool and its use cases, and an enthusiasm to develop and discover best practices for using Nearpod. Let’s take a look at how these programs help both teachers and edtech companies.
For this post I’ll skip the “official” advice, which would involve talking about the right metrics to present, the quality and consistency of your deck, best practices for demonstrating product-market fit, etc. Esteban has already written about a few of these topics, including metrics and TAM. In this post I’ll share some guerrilla strategies from someone who has been fundraising in edtech for the past 5 years.
In many cases, the classroom is ready for virtual reality (VR) and other frontier technologies. Students and teachers deserve the best tools for learning, and these technologies offer promising ways to engage students and improve outcomes in K-12 and beyond.
The caveat is that schools don’t typically have the same need as other industries to chase the “flavor of the month.” Schools aren’t going to adopt something simply because it’s “innovative.” Rather, I have found that schools and districts will massively deploy a new technology only if it fulfills the following four criteria:
In my experience, the best founders and the savviest investors will look at contract churn as a key indicator to determine the health of a business. New sales matter, but churn among your existing paid customers matters even more!
My first piece of advice is to define exactly how you want to measure churn and align everyone in the company around the same metric.
If you want to sell your product to schools, you need to think multi-platform from day one. When we started Nearpod in 2012, our focus was purely on iPads. We were certain that Apple was going to own the K-12 space.
Fast forward to today: Google Chromebooks, Amazon Kindle Fire, Windows, Linux, and various other devices have entered the classroom. While some schools have a 1:1 program with a specific device (e.g. iPads), most schools have diverse hardware ecosystems: a computer lab, bring-your-own-device (“BYOD”) classes, Chromebook carts, etc.
You shouldn’t hire your first salesperson until you know you have a product that sells. That means that as the founder of a product, you are your first salesperson. In fact, if you’re not selling your product from day one, you’re missing out on valuable learning opportunities.
If you want to work in a meaningful industry and make an impact on students’ lives, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s always a good time to start an edtech company.