Q&A with Scott Welch, Co-founder of Edsby.
EdTech Times had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Scott Welch, Co-founder of Edsby – a developer and provider of LMS tailored for K-12 schools and school districts. Below please read what Mr. Welch had to share with us.
Company at Glance:
Founders: John Myers, Steven Asbury, Jon Asbury, Scott Welch
Category: Learning Management System
Product stage: Market
Company Twitter: @Edsby
ETT: What is the market segment your company is in?
Edsby is a learning management system (LMS) designed specifically for the needs of K-12 schools and school districts and is used to better engage with parents, streamline teacher tasks and help organize every aspect of a student’s education.
ETT: Who are your core customers and how did you come across the problem you’re addressing and how did you define it – what was your process in identifying it?
Edsby serves students, teachers, administrators and parents connected closely to K-12 schools and school districts and provides a variety of cloud-based functions distributing class and student information, as well as simplifying communication among teachers, students and parents. Edsby’s system is implemented at the school and school district level; individual teachers cannot use the program ad hoc because it connects extensively to schools’ systems.
The platform was created with a goal to decrease the number of products that teachers and administrators need to use on a daily basis to track student progress and data, as well as use to communicate with each other and students’ parents. It was also created out of a desire to help districts implement their assessment and reporting policies and standards district-wide. There’s been a recent trend for teachers to download and start using anything they find in the classroom, and that exposes educators and educational administrators if privacy, confidentiality and consistency aren’t adhered to. Districts are increasingly realizing that CIPA, COPPA, FERPA and other regulations are important, and Edsby is a way to stay compliant.
ETT: And how did you develop a solution to this particular problem and what was your process of arriving at it?
Before we even wrote a line of code for Edsby, we spent a year talking with educators about their needs. We’re big believers in extensive market research. And we heard consistently that educators were not happy with solutions available to them. We heard existing solutions were cumbersome, hard to use, expensive and not at all popular with users. We set out to make an application that students, teachers and parents would actually use. And that allowed districts to centralize and standardize.
ETT: What it is that you’re doing differently than your competitors? And do you expect to develop other differentiators in the future?
Unlike other LMSes, Edsby is designed and intended for K-12 district wide use instead of ad hoc technology adoptions made by teachers. The real differentiation is that Edsby utilizes existing legacy platforms and can fully integrate with a district’s Student Information System and directory systems, which is important for district-wide deployments. Additionally this allows for deep customization and easy access and use for all stakeholders. If an LMS platform isn’t tightly tied to the SIS, it’s very difficult to deploy quickly, let alone keep up to date and relevant as students, teachers, parents and classes come and go.
ETT: Please describe your product development strategy and product stage. What we should expect to see from your company in the next 12 months – i.e. describe your potential next milestones?
As a cloud-based software company, we’re able to introduce features and fixes to our customers throughout the year. We generally aim to deliver a comprehensive set of new functionality every summer, tested and documented, just in time for the new school year. Coming this summer will be the capability to schedule parent-teacher meetings in Edsby, workflow around parent approval of field trips and other events, and other features yet to be announced.
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?
Edsby is a modern, new type of LMS. Edsby is challenging the traditional concept of the LMS and turning it into something modern and more relatable within school districts. Based on a familiar Facebook-like social feed metaphor, the platform is transforming how students, teachers, administrators and parents engage with the school and communicate in a secure environment. Teachers no longer need to download their own apps, run their own webpages or make ad hoc decisions for the technology they bring into the classroom because Edsby is an enterprise-wide experience that connects every aspect of a school. Being district wide, every student and parent has immediate access from multiple devices to everything they need from the school and their respective courses.
Most schools and districts today have come to rely on a smattering of unconnected applications. Disrupting this status quo in education is something we’ll be doing for the foreseeable future.
ETT: Could you tell us about other startups or product builds that you have been a part of and what your role was?
The founders of Edsby were the original architects of FirstClass, an email and collaboration system that became popular in the largest school districts in the world for its ease of use, massive scale, innovative group functions and system reliability. Twenty-five years later, FirstClass still powers some of the largest K-12 districts in the U.S. We’re bringing the best qualities of FirstClass to Edsby, and picking up, in a sense, where FirstClass left off.
ETT: Where is education technology market going in the next few years?
Moving forward, we’re going to see a push from administrators and teachers looking for new digital tools that will aid in streamlining their daily tasks, providing that they can be centrally managed and customized to adhere to a district’s policies and assessment and reporting requirements. One-size-fits-all is not proving to be acceptable in K-12, where requirements can be completely different from one district to another. Increasingly students are embracing BYOD policies so they can use their own mobile devices, tablets and laptops in and out of the classroom to enter online and school resources. So it will be increasingly important that the systems they need to access can work as elegantly on their mobile devices as conventional computers.
ETT: What advice, if any, do you have for someone thinking about launching a company in the education technology market?
Solve a compelling need. And have a clear path to revenue. Many companies with only an incremental benefit that are hoping to monetize their products via a freemium model are finding it hard to recognize enough revenue to keep their doors open. Don’t be another one!
EdTEch Times is grateful to Mr. Welch for his time taken to speak with us, and we strongly recommend you learn more about Edsby 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.