The London-based Education Technology Start-ups Meetup group hosted an interesting event at BPP Law School on December 8, 2014. The panel described EdTech trends, shared insight about the industry, and offered advice about how to succeed as a education startup in today's competitive landscape.
The panellists included:
Charles Wiles, Co-Founder & CEO of ZZish
Michael Webb, Senior Technology Innovator, JISC
Tim Jackson, Partner at Lean Investments
Ravi Patel, Program Manger at Pearson Catalyst
During the two hour event, a range of great ideas were presented by the participants, but the following innovative concepts were our top 4 takeaways from the event:
1. Identify your 'Earlyvangelists'
Charles from ZZish revealed quite a few tips about the different fundraising options that exist for startups before introducing a memorable phrase 'earlyvangelists.' These particular individuals are those that will "fully believe in the product before you even entirely build it" because they buy into the idea before its available on the market. Charles explained that these people are the 1% of your target market that tried to find a solution but couldn't identify one, so they want your proposed solution instead.
Cultivating relationships with these 'earlyvangelists' is an imperative step for building brand advocates and fostering a solid group of supporters even before your product is officially available to the wider market.
2. Viability of Freemium Models
When discussing whether freeium models are viable for startups, Tim from Lean Investments offered a story about the music streaming service Spotify. He said that sometimes users need to interact with the product first before they realize why its worth paying for. Additionally, its important to think about when and where the service should be free to access; customers will often pay for accessibility and being able to use it when on the go.
Ravi from Pearson cited three examples of EdTech companies that have successfully made the freemium model work as the basis of their business: Class Dojo, EdMoto, and Remind. These startups present to teachers innovative ways to connect with parents and present varied pricing plans; offering a mix of free and paid content.
3. Discover a Growth Hack
The concept of a 'growth hack' is a marketing strategy that always seems like a simple concept, but in reality, is much harder to execute than expected. It is typically defined as a plan that is not necessarily a revenue driver but an alternative way to drive attention to the brand and product. Charles emphasized that despite the challenges associated with identifying an ideal growth hack, it can be an extremely effective method to enable new customers to discover your product.
4. Gathering Teacher Feedback via Social Media
Ravi just spent a few months in San Francisco identifying startup partnerships for Pearson and while there, he was impressed by the way Remind collaborated with teachers to source their feedback. He stated that Twitter is an extremely powerful platform for teachers, they are active participants and often leverage interactions with other users to help them source ideas for the classroom. Remind recognized the potency of Twitter and would tweet at teachers inviting them to come to the Remind offices to share feedback about their product with the team.
Encouraging offline interaction or sourcing input about ideas and services are two fantastic ways to utilize social media channels to engage with the teaching community.
After the roundtable discussion, there was a short time for companies to pitch ideas to attendees; allowing us to hear about interesting companies like Mr. Glue Stories, an interesting startup connecting children's book illustrators and the parents of 4-10 year olds.
The event was a great opportunity for startups to hear insight from leading EdTech innovators during the panel session and then share their company visions. We'd recommend London-based EdTech startups to participate in future events by registering for Meetups here.