It is not easy for EdTech startups to help customers understand what is possible through their EdTech. The most successful companies will be those that most clearly develop products that solve real, clear, specific problems faced by teachers and students every day, and at a reasonable price point.
For any EdTech tool to work well, the developers must build it with the end users in mind, generally teachers and kids. They need to try out products with those end users in real life to really know what’s working for them and what’s not.
Before selling their technology to schools EdTech startups need to make sure that their solutions are well suited to the technology needs of the school and are also affordable. Sales are not about being the loud speaker for your company and products. It’s about getting through the side decks, power points or agenda and about listening and understanding your customer’s needs.
There are some Dos and Don’ts for EdTech startups before selling to schools. They’re as follows:
Ben Stern who is a Technology Integrationist for a private school and writes for the ‘Because You Asked’ column for edSurge, has offered tips for EdTech startups who want to get their product into schools, in his blog post on edSurge. Here, according to him are some Dos that EdTech startups should consider before selling to schools:
- Before selling your product to a school, you need to sell to the school what you know about education. You need to remember that you’re dealing with an entirely different market. You need to show the school that you understand what education is and that you share the school’s love for it. The school will be predisposed to like the startup’s product once it becomes a trusted member of the school’s inner circle of educators.
- You should use good, real examples of how its product would be used in a school. Entrepreneurs can suggest a lesson plan that might involve their product. Ask your beta testers how they’re using your product and use their stories in your pitches. Bad examples indicate that you might not know education, and it’s hard to bring a school back once it has doubted your credibility.
- Explain exactly how your product works instead of telling what it is going to change so that the school can figure out what aspect of education your product will affect. Since no two schools are identical, you may leave the product’s intended functionality somewhat ambiguous. Once the school understands how your product works and what it can do, the school can work with you to determine who will be using it.
- Only expect slow and careful implementation, as schools adapt to changes at a slow pace. Also, it is very difficult to replace products that have already been implemented. So, instead of taking tools out of teachers’ hands, introduce platforms that will integrate with them.
An EdTech startup Panorama Education recently sold software to over 3,000 US schools in less than a year and generates recurring revenue of $500,000 per year. Its founder Aaron Feuer has the following advice for other EdTech entrepreneurs trying to sell to schools:
- Talk to as many people as possible. The goal should be to identify who feels the most pain from a lack of solution to the problem.
- Explain why your product is the best solution instead of first proposing a solution to the problem.
- Always think about whether your product is solving a real problem, and whether it is best in class, which makes it a lot easier to sell.
- Don’t believe that building a better product will make you successful. Delivering something for cheaper will, even if that cheaper thing is lower quality.
- Don’t target schools in developed, western countries because that’s where large, Internet businesses have been built. Asia is a much better education market if you want to target consumers.
- Don’t make the mistake of making two pitches, by first trying to pitch a solution to the problem, and then pitching why your product is the best solution. Instead, pitch why your product is the best solution.
- Don’t expect a quick growth. Building a large, successful education company will take a number of years. Things will ramp quickly when you identify your core market and built the beginnings of a brand, the education industry is small and people will know if you deliver real value.
EdTech startups, to get through the gate, must understand that schools are dynamic, unique institutions guided by a noble vision. It’s better to know what you are getting into before you start and there are several ways to deal with the education market.
Do you have any suggestions for EdTech startups before they sell to schools? Make your suggestions in the Comment Box below.