Q&A With Aldo de Pape, Founder of TeachPitch
EdTech Times had the honor of speaking with Aldo de Pape, founder of TeachPitch, a new edtech company aiming to help teachers identify the best resources online available to help with their teaching in the classrooms. Below please find what Aldo had shared with us.
Company at Glance:
Founder: Aldo de Pape
Founded: October 2014
Product stage: Market
Company twitter: @teachpitch
Founder twitter: @aldodepape
ETT: What is the market segment your company is in?
TeachPitch is a technology that helps teachers identify the best online resources available. We focus on helping K-12 teachers around the world find the best answer to their learning questions in the quickest way possible. Our proposition was originally designed for high-school teachers but educators, instructors and professors from other educational segments are signing up as well.
ETT: Who are your core customers?
They are the teachers, learning companies, and schools.
ETT: How did you come across the problem you’re addressing and how did you define it – what was your process in identifying it?
We focus on making online learning resources highly relevant and accessible to teachers.
Before founding TeachPitch, I had the privilege of working with teachers for over 12 years and was a teacher myself briefly. In their daily lives, teachers can often use help and the Internet is an excellent resource in finding the right support — provided the right tools are found and used correctly.
I noticed that there is a big gap between the abundance of learning resources available and the constraints of time and budget that a teacher is continuously coping with. There is simply too much information available for teachers to find the most relevant content within the limited amount of time available to them.
ETT: And how did you develop a solution to this particular problem and what was your process of arriving at it?
We changed the paradigm by letting teachers decide which online resources are best, not the other way around. Together with researchers from the Institute of Education in London, we developed a teacher’s learning ontology — this is the backbone of TeachPitch.
A lot of players in the market work on a ‘supply’ basis, meaning that they provide you with their content hoping that it might be of use to you.
A concrete example of this is the rapidly increasing amount of MOOCs. Even though I am a big supporter of universities making their courses available, an obvious next step would be to make it relevant and discoverable for a specific target group so people will actually complete such a course. This is not only applicable to MOOCs but also to a lot of other products out there that offer great things for teachers.
TeachPitch starts by helping you define what you really need and then provides you with multiple options available from all of these suppliers. The TeachPitch community takes care of the rest or as one educational blogger put it: “Much like LinkedIn, teachers can follow trusted colleagues and identify new experts via the site, developing a network whose content suggestions and links they can trust.”
ETT: What it is that you’re doing differently than your competitors? And do you expect to develop other differentiators in the future?
Our platform is very collaborative in its nature and we will never be in the business of creating any of the learning resources ourselves.
With our curation team (lead by former teachers) we are continuously identifying the best online resources available. We are fortunate enough to have resources available from amazing learning platforms such as Khan Academy, Edutopia and Discovery Education. In addition we are working with educational publishers such as Pearson who with their Efficacy Team are helping us to become as effective as we can in helping teachers find what is most relevant to them.
We will develop additional distinctive features, making sure that teachers and schools can continue to find the best resources around.
ETT: Please tell us more about your product stage and what we should expect to see from your company in the next 12 months – i.e. describe your potential next milestones.
We will continue to improve and increase our online library functionalities, allowing teachers to do more with the resources they have identified through TeachPitch. In numbers we are currently in the thousands of teachers from over 75 countries — all keen to find the best resources. We owe it to them to become the best technology we can be.
We will continue to work with great platforms and publishers to see how we can make their content most relevant for the teachers and schools that we are currently working with.
We will start working more intensively with schools on how they can use our solution for teacher’s learning and collaboration.
ETT: Are you a disruptor, and why so? Do you believe you will remain as a disruptor in near foreseeable future or become a more mature company? Why is that so?
‘Disruption’ is a tricky word. We are different in the sense that we are basically arching over many educational market pillars. The rise of the Internet and technology has allowed us to focus on gaining access to content, gradually eradicating barriers to access such learning resources. In addition to accessibility, we feel it is time to make sure that such content becomes relevant and can be correctly used by millions of teachers out there.
We feel that there is plenty to do in the relevance business and are keen to grow as a company.
ETT: Could you tell us about other startups or product builds that you have been a part of and what your role was?
Previously I worked for a VC in London called Digital Science, which is part of the Holtzbrinck group and invests in technology that improves the way scientific research is done.
I worked on the corporate development of two start-ups in particular, figshare and Altmetric, and surely learnt a lot on how to build a product and take it to market whilst working with a growing team on making this happen.
ETT: Did you or do you currently have a mentor who is/has been helping you through the startup stages of the company? Who is that mentor?
I am fortunate enough to have many mentors in the growth of TeachPitch, there is not one mentor in particular but many who are helping me in making it a success. Big thanks to all of them!
ETT: Where do you see the education technology market going in the next few years?
I think we will see the further internationalization of education. One of the things we pride ourselves in is that teachers from all over the world are signing up to TeachPitch. With just the click of a button you can share and recommend the best resources to teachers everywhere.
As the adoption of technology becomes easier we will see more connections being made, moving towards an international approach in improving education.
Another thing I think we will see is a lot of consolidation of technologies. 2013 and 2014 have been great years in terms of EdTech investment, giving birth to many great ideas. It remains to be seen whether these ideas will continue to grow as stand-alone products or as features within new or existing solutions out there.
ETT: What advice, if any, do you have for someone thinking about launching a company in the education technology market?
Stay close to your users. It doesn’t make any sense to develop the most advanced applications if nobody is going to use it. Make sure that the educational tools you build have a direct link with the daily reality of those you developed it for, otherwise you will get lost in your product roadmap.
Another advice I would have is not to give up. Starting up is not always easy but definitely worth it once you have got it right.
EdTech Times thanks Aldo de Pape for his generous use of his time to speak to our readers, and we recommend you learn more about TeachPitch at:
Yevgeny Ioffe, or as people call him, Yev, has been working in both the startup world and established companies. His career spans from joining Xplana Learning as it launched to Cengage Learning to MBS Direct when it acquired Xplana in 2009. Yevgeny brings to EdTech Times his passion for start-ups and technology, along with his interest in the ever evolving world of edtech. Yevgeny obtained his BSc and MA from Brandeis University and MBA from Boston College.