Opinion
Education Opinion

The 5 Challenges of an Edtech Entrepreneur

By Matthew Lynch — December 22, 2017 2 min read

Edtech entrepreneurs are optimists, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their share of challenges.

From finding investors to learning flexibility, the path isn’t always easy. Here are five other challenges edtech entrepreneurs face.

1. Conducting Business in an Academic World

Academia marches to the beat of a different drummer than the business world. Even their calendar is different.

Working within the same constraints that schools face means planning an adoption far in advance of your rollout, establishing a summer professional development schedule, and waiting for payment - often not until school budgets open in September.

INSTEAD: Adjust your schedule to the needs of the school.

2. Confidentiality

Student information falls into a variety of confidential arenas, including, HIPAA and FERPA, so you’ll have to address data security. The same people who can stand up to unruly middle school students without batting an eyelash find compromised student data to be one of the scariest things imaginable.

And rightly so.

INSTEAD: State up front that you understand the importance of student confidentially and then prove it.

3. Change

Change is hard for everyone, but it’s hardest for edtech entrepreneurs who live in a fluid, fast-paced world that evolves constantly. Schools do not adapt and change as quickly as you do. You’ll be working with schools that are better at resisting change than Odysseus resisted the Sirens.

Many educators, teachers and administrators alike, are skeptical of edtech, and some are downright fearful that your product will replace them.

INSTEAD: Show how your edtech serves as a tool and solves a problem.

4. Money

Edtech is a booming business - to the tune of $1.36B in 2014 alone. Your business plan needs more than an MVP; it needs a sustainable model. You’ve got to develop a product that addresses a need, solves it, provides continuous support and doesn’t eat all your profits (or your savings).

INSTEAD: Help schools become your customer by showing them how to write grants for funding or formulate payment plans.

5. Marketing

The outdated model of sending a sales force to routinely visit districts may be a thing of the past because of the expense. Social media is an excellent marketing tool for many businesses, but academia is generally slow to engage with products based solely on social media.

The savvy edtech entrepreneur has to be creative in finding academic support.

INSTEAD: Create relationships and provide value.

Edtech entrepreneurs who are ready for these challenges will be the most successful.

The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Clinical Director
Garden Prairie, IL, US
Camelot Education

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read