EdTech Startup Q&A with Karen Bdoyan, founder of ShowMe

EdTech Times spoke with Karen Bdoyan, founder of ShowMe, a global learning community that aims to connect great teachers and experts to students across the world. Read our interview to find out what ShowMe creates and why they do it.

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ShowMe Founder, Karen Bdoyan

Edtech Startup at a Glance

Company: ShowMe

Company website: showme.com

Founder: Karen Bdoyan

Founded: 2010

Facebook: facebook.com/showmeapp

Company Twitter: @showmeapp

What market segment is your company in?
ShowMe is widely popular in K-12 area. At the same time, our platform is convenient for any kind of educational use.

Who are your core customers and how did you come across the problem you’re addressing? How did you define it, and what was your process in identifying it?
There is a huge demand for personalized learning, as learning styles vary from student to student and curriculum standards vary across states, districts, and individual schools.

A bipartisan council of top education leaders identified personalized learning as one of the top five needs for digital learning…however, this need is not being met. Three publishers control 85% of K-12 market, and teachers lack tools to create personalized and effective learning content.

Because we believe “anyone can teach and learn,” we do not separate one from the other. Therefore, both teachers and students are essentially equal customers for us. We believe it is fundamentally important to improve the way human race absorbs knowledge. ShowMe is our best effort to significantly improve the teaching-learning process.

How did you develop a solution to this particular problem, and what was your process of arriving at it?
One of the most important parts of learning process is handwriting. Before iPad-like tablets, we were working on handwriting technology using personal computers. It was not very natural to draw on attached devices and see the results on a separate screen. iPad changed everything, for the first time ever, it was possible for startups like us to utilize digital handwriting without focusing on hardware, rather focusing on user experience and the educational components.

What it is that you’re doing differently than your competitors? Do you expect to develop other differentiators in the future?

ShowMe makes it easy & fun to create learning content. Here are some citations from the press and blogs:

“Incredibly simple to use” – ReadWriteWeb
“Perhaps the most intuitive and powerful whiteboard app available for the iPad” – Quora
“A glimpse of how the iPad can completely change the way people learn” -TechCrunch

Please describe your product development strategy and product stage. What should we expect to see from your company in the next 12 months? Describe your potential next milestones.

Using classrooms as the entry point, we gather massive content & data from the community to personalize the learning experience for every student. ShowMe creates value on three levels:

Tool: Put ShowMe in every classroom
Content: Collect lessons from teachers
Data: Collect data to filter & organize content

In next 12 months, we expect ShowMe to be available on many more languages and for many more tablet platforms.

Are you a disruptor, and how so? Do you believe you will remain as a disruptor in the near future? Why or why not?
The traditional top-down media model is being disrupted as content creation & distribution is pushed downstream. We’ve seen it with music, video, news, publishing, etc. The $800 billion education industry will be the next domino to fall. Yes, we are here to disrupt and permanently improve the way people learn.

Where do you think the education technology market is going in the next five years, especially in your market segment?
Mobile, tablets, and the social web are priming the education space for a sea of change. This trend is pretty much clear for anyone now. I think the main question is how fast we will meet the critical mass where education “crosses the Rubicon,” and that’s where we will see the tremendous impact.

What advice, if any, do you have for someone thinking about launching a company in the education technology market?
Focus on data, as it is your key to “personalized education.” Being able to collect and store data is nearly not enough in education. The most important part is to be able to analyze and programmatically understand it. Unlike other tech industries, edtech is all about personalization.

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren is the General Manager of EdTech Times. A Texan by birth but a Bostonian at heart, Hannah is an educational writer, AmeriCorps alum, and one-time StartupWeekend EDU (SWEDU) winning team member. She started her career at a Pearson-incubated edtech startup, but has since covered travel, food & culture, and even stonemasonry in addition to education.