The internet is full of countless lessons that educate people on how to run a business. There are books written by founders, there are articles written by business gurus, and there are management classes in business programs. However, despite reading up on all the literature which list Dos and Don’ts, when it comes down to running a startup, owners face a plethora of problems, and in turn, learn some valuable lessons. Henry Ford has rightly said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Like any other industry, edtech is a niche field in itself and has its own nuances that demand close attention. Following are some amazing lessons that would benefit every edtech startup founder and co-founder:
- Understand the role of each stakeholder
When it comes to edtech, startups engage with a variety of stakeholders who are entirely different from one another. There isn’t only the government, the administration, students and teachers, but in some cases, there are parents of students as well. Thus, in an edtech startup, there aren’t just different types of customers, but each kind of customer has different demands and expectations. There is, therefore, a need to form direct relationships with the customers to understand their demands better, for when it comes to making decisions, all these stakeholders are interdependent. For instance, the administration declares policies on how much fee can be charged from the students, teachers follow the education board’s guidelines to set the syllabus for an academic year, and parents make the decisions about which mode of education is best for their children. Thus, an edtech startup cannot effectively function if it focuses on only students, it has to take into consideration all the other factors which influence the student’s education.
- Recognize your customers
Now that we’ve established that there are different stakeholders involved in an edtech startup, it is also important for business owners to recognise who their customers, consumers, and users are, as these are roles which edtech entrepreneurs are likely to get confused with. By definition, a customer is the one who pays for the product, and a consumer is the one who uses the product, while a user can be a combination of both. For instance, if an edtech startup provides online classes for K-12 students, the customer would be the parents, while the consumers would be the students. Similarly, for an edtech startup based on skill-learning courses which are taken up by professionals, the customer and consumers would be the same individual. Thus, depending on the startup model, edtech startup owners will benefit by recognising their customers so that they can target their marketing strategies accordingly.
- Understand why people are hesitant about adopting edtech
Many edtech startups face the initial problem of not being able to convince users about how edtech can help them. Despite its recent growth in the market, the edtech industry still faces scepticism from most of its targeted consumer-base. This demands an understanding of the psyche of the individual, so that the founder can determine why people are hesitant about adopting online education. For instance, it is a common notion among people that online education would not be able to provide teacher-student engagement. Startup owners can provide a solution by offering live web classes which enable one-to-one interaction between the student and teacher, thus proving extremely useful for students who wish to prepare for competitive examinations like JEE, CAT, GATE, GMAT, etc. Hence, founders can convince consumers to eventually make a shift to online education through meaningful solutions.
- Align your goals with teachers
When it comes to running an edtech startup, founders have to closely work with the teachers. What founders need to realise is that teachers have different priorities, and their priorities need not always align with those of business owners. Since education itself is an industry that is very public-oriented, many teachers who choose this as their profession do so with a sense of responsibility. Therefore, when an edtech startup tries to get teachers to adopt an online education app, teachers consider all the factors like set-up time, or whether all students will have access to the necessary equipment. So, while on the one hand teachers would prefer to take their time in integrating an edtech app to the curriculum; on the other hand, the business owners would prioritise other goals instead. Edtech entrepreneurs thus need to realise this gap in objectives and need to come to a common ground that’s acceptable to both.
- Give value adds which set you apart from free service providers
There are countless portals available on the internet that give students free access to educational content, be it normal school curriculum, or course content for competitive exams like JEE, GATE, CAT, CLAT, etc. When there is already a surplus of free education content, consumers are unlikely to pay for educational content which they can otherwise get at no extra cost. Founders of edtech startups thus need to provide value adds to their users that would make them sign up for their course content. For instance, they can provide timed tests with regular progress reports.
No matter how much one prepares, founding and running a successful company is no easy task, particularly in the education industry which is highly centred around the common public. Therefore, it becomes even more important for edtech startup owners to recognize the different factors that influence the education industry, as well as how different roles are interdependent on each other.
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