startup advice

Startup Advice: Top 9 Tips From EdTech Startup Founders

Are you an entrepreneur hoping to change the face of education? Or are you a teacher looking to bring your lessons beyond the classroom? No matter what your background, when you’re at the helm of an edtech startup, you need all the help you can get.

Fortunately, we’ve had the opportunity to interview a number of founders in the education technology space. Each one has shared their learnings over the years, and their best advice for those following in their footsteps.

Here are a few quotes from our recent interviews that may be helpful for anyone currently running or hoping to start an edtech company in the future.

Startup Advice: Top 9 Tips From EdTech Startup Founders

1. Solve a real problem

“Our advice would be to focus first on creating an outstanding product or service concept that solves a fundamental problem within education. You can leverage existing technology platforms or technology experts to build your unique technology, but the awesome idea should be there first.”

– Matthew and Joseph Moheban, Co-Founders of 220 Youth Leadership (220YL)

“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!”

– Scott Welch, Co-Founder of Edsby

2. Start with a powerful mission

“It all starts with the mission. If the world will not miss you if you disappear, it might be time to take a second look at what you think you bring to the table. From there, you need to have an inspired team in place who shares that passion and drive to make a difference. Today’s education technology landscape is changing rapidly. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all resources and tools. Through smarter technology and empowered educators, today’s learners have new ways to unlock their own potential. It is a very exciting time.”

– John Jorgenson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Kurzweil Education

3. Focus on what matters

“Really think about what your goal is. Many of you are trying to start a lifestyle business—think about your goals, and don’t get carried away trying to build the best thing ever.”

Focus on delivering a product people will pay for. Find someone to pay for it before you build it. And then build it.”

– Jordan Fliegel, Founder of Coachup

“Focus on the human interaction. It has been and always will be the core element of the educational process. Educational technological should aim to enhance the human/social interaction in the learning cycle, rather than replace it.”

– Meir Lebi, CEO of Learni

4. Define your product

“Clearly define your customer’s budget and where the funds would come from to pay for your product, and clearly define how teachers (or families) will use your product in a variety of types of classrooms with a variety of types of students. Build a product that is at last 10 times better than the alternative. And engage teachers and students—they know more about learning than you ever will.”

– Bharani Rajakumar, Founder of LearnBop

5. Understand your learners

“Spend time understanding your market and learner needs. Learners are not the same, so we created personas to better understand our various user groups. Focus on the core product and value you add, which is education. How will people learn? What values and principles will guide you? After the more fundamental questions are answered around vision, values and mission, then you can start addressing the technical and product-related questions.”

– So-Young Kang, Founder of Gnowbe

6. Be Passionate

“Be passionate and have a mission! There are plenty of barriers to overcome, but the passion will push you through them…Embrace change and surround yourself with good people who believe in your vision, add value to your life and are mentors, advisors, and well-wishers. Finally, have fun through it all, as it’s a privilege to be an entrepreneur and follow your own dreams!”

– Anurag Agarwal, Founder of Junior Explorers

7. Listen to feedback

“Listen to the people you serve. Learn from them and solve for them. Get the product in their hands as soon as possible and hear about what they’re doing with it in the classroom. Always ask what could improve their experience and allow them to obtain new learning objectives.”

– Justin Chando, CEO of Chalkup

8. Use your data

“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.”

– Karen Bdoyan, Founder of ShowMe

9. Launch an MVP ASAP

“Launch as soon as you have a minimum viable product (MVP) and continue developing it based on your consumers’ feedback. Only through constant interactions with both educators and students will you be able to achieve a considerable growth.”

– Mark Bruk, Founder of Saundz

For more advice and product information from edtech founders, check out our edtech startup Q&A series