How should I balance impact with economic sustainability in edtech?

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)

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What are some unconventional fundraising tips for edtech startups?

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.

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Is the classroom ready for virtual reality?

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:

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How much churn can we tolerate?

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.

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When should I prioritize being multi-platform?

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.

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