Choosing the Safe Space for You in the Overcrowded Ed Tech Market
Is the Ed-tech market over crowded or is there still space to expand? Originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Short answer, there’s plenty of space in the edtech world for you because there are a million problems that need to be solved.
The challenge: getting your product out there in a system that’s riddled with adoption landmines.
I just answered a question about the reasons edtech isn’t employed effectively. The challenges you’ll have entering edtech are that someone other than your users is generally responsible for permission, adoption, or procurement. Even if you convince an entire district or state to sign on, if nobody on the front lines wants to use your stuff or it doesn’t solve a problem for them, it’s not going to last long, even if the district or principal subscribes.
You want your users to be raving fans of your product because it solves some problem for them, their schools, or their students. You want it to be easy to learn and fun. If you an do that—onboard easily, keep them coming back, and make the product virally amazing because it solves their problem—not someone else’s—then there’s space for you in edtech.
There are a whole lot of things that need solving in education. Some you see a lot are portfolios, testing, remediation, online learning/courses, LMSs, data analysis, gamification, personalized learning… the list is long and growing.
You must choose your space, and then the level at which you’ll attack the problem—student, teacher, schoolwide, district, or systemic levels. The lower you stick to the grassroots level, though, the easier it will be to get your product to the masses.
The higher you go, the more you deal with issues of procurement and permission problems listed in the above post. Trust me, you do not want to be the tech equivalent of the old textbook rep who has to go door to door convincing ten people in each district to purchase. You want something that’ll be “I can’t imagine life before this” word of mouth shared.
EdSurge calculated between $1.9B to over $2.5B (depending on what you’re classifying as edtech) invested in edtech in the first half of 2015, with over 161 investments listed. That’s a small fraction of $58B of venture capital deployed in all of 2015 according to the National Venture Capital Association.
There are currently 11,088 companies that list themselves as education startups on AngelList. It might seem like a lot—it’s number six behind mammoth categories like IT, consumer, enterprise, media, health care, and finance. We’re talking about all markets—K-12, higher-ed, adult, non-traditional, and training. Education isn’t just schools.
Even though there’s a lot out there, there’s room for you.
Why? There are plenty—and I mean plenty—of problems that need solving in eduction today. Solve the right one and find a group of people who can’t live without it, and you’re gold.
It won’t be easy—there’s decidedly more red tape in many spaces of edtech, especially K-12, than other areas—everything from federal laws regarding underage users, permission, data protection, school policies, funding, and infrastructure.
If you study your users well, know their needs and position, and create a solution that makes their world a better place…there is always room for you.
Contributed by Dawn Casey-Rowe, Education, EdTech