Education is a brilliant market to tap, anywhere in the world. It’s often a market that eager parents are willing to splurge on, in the hope of brightening their child’s future. Education, after all, is everything, right? Right. And that’s why there is so much opportunity in the online teaching and learning software space. Knowledge travels faster today than ever before; across borders, across the internet, at the speed of thought.
Every education technology venture has its own journey and its own captive market that it needs to corner. The market for an open source software for online learning is very different from that of a paid subscription platform, for instance. And while business plans look great on paper, there are very few startups that nail the execution plan. This little article will walk you through 5 pillars that you should consider building your business on, to make it successful. You’ll be surprised to see how well these simple tips work. After all, a little goes a long way!
Understand the Potential
While you may have a unique idea for an online education venture, think about whether it will be relevant in five years’ time. Also, examine whether there are other players in the market who have the clout and capital to expand their offerings to cross-step yours. There are dozens of educational sites that feature professional courses, but how relevant will these be with the advent of live streaming? The cyber world is moving towards real-time consumption.
Ask yourself these questions as you piece your enterprise together. Who is your target segment? In what direction is the market moving? What solution are you providing? When you’ve answered these questions, decide how your solution fits into your target audience’s needs. Students aren’t bothered about what your offerings are, how much funding you’re about to receive or how many users you already have. They’re interested in knowing how you can help them do well in their next unit test, how your online lessons will help them secure a ticket to a good university. Once you’ve linked your product with students’ needs, you’re on your way.
Personalise Your Approach
The reality is that students retain only half of what is taught in school. That means that 50% of learning happens outside the classroom. Of course, for each child, the reason for this may be different. One may be a slow learner, while another may suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. Or perhaps the teaching methods used in the child’s school are subpar. All these reasons point to one solution: a personalised online approach. Marking a child’s individual progress milestones can empower, engage and motivate him.
Knewton, an online teaching and learning platform headquartered in New York City, does just that. The eLearning software is a platform for adaptive learning. The concept is simple, but not as much as you think. Adaptive learning is a technique that has been used by teachers for centuries. It involves modelling a teaching technique on a child’s existing knowledge base. For instance, if a child doesn’t know the answer to a question, the teacher should probe to understand where her teaching fell short, and then fill the gap.
uses the same principle in a complex set of algorithms to pace a student, and fishes out questions that are aligned to his progress. The company is quickly gaining ground in the online learning space and has inked deals with publishing houses such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan to facilitate its adaptive learning offering. Today, Knewton has more than one million students on its platform. It’s a great model to follow, and easy to set up, with technology enablers such as Pinlearn. Pinlearn is a cutting-edge framework that allows entrepreneurs to set up eLearning platforms in just a few days.
Employ Superior Technology
As a new entrant in ed tech, you need your technology game to be strong. If you have the time and the money, you could begin by putting a team together and starting from scratch by developing, coding and designing your platform. The most popular choices in technology for an ed tech video venture are:
- For IT Infrastructure: AWS, Google Cloud, IBM Softlayer, Microsoft Azure.
- For Content Delivery Network (CDN): Amazon CloudFront, Akamai.
- For Online Video Player (OVP): JWPlayer, HTML5 Based players.
- For Security & DRM: Watermark, Screen Capturing, Geo-Blocking, Studio Approved DRM.
Most entrepreneurs prefer to buy a readymade framework to save time and money, and to be assured of a standard quality. There are many technologies in the market, but you’ll likely need to sift through a multitude of options to determine one that suits your budget and your expectations. If you opt for a technology like Pinlearn, you’ll receive a world-class technology stack at a marginal cost. Pinlearn also comes with a gamut of inbuilt features and its responsive design is modeled to give you an uber-luxe appeal. The framework is built on Laravel 5.3 (PHP), Agular JS 1, Mysql, Redis cache, NGINX web server, SSL, JQuery and Boostrap.
Make sure you don’t make a tradeoff between technology and price. Settle on a choice that gives you both.
Market Your Product
The education sector typically has longer lead times than other sectors, because the customer investment is higher. A customer may buy a movie on a streaming site, on a whim, but with education, there is careful consideration that is done before locking in on an online learning platform. Your marketing strategy needs to be tailored to suit your market. It needs to be as authentic as possible because ed tech is largely powered by word of mouth. Try a mixture of testimonials, video interviews, vlogs and social media campaigns to spread the word. Leverage a pull strategy to draw students. Encourage trust.
When your existing students are happy, your user base will multiply and your customer acquisition cost will drop. After a point, your brand will go into autopilot, as it flows through a ring of recommendation from student to student.
Collaborate with Smart Stakeholders
It’s okay not to be equipped with every aspect of business. To be an effective edupreneur, it’s important to embrace stakeholders who are specialised in relevant fields. Establish partnerships that will take your brand forward.
LearnZillion has set a trend in ed tech by embracing collaborations to further its business. Started by a McKinsey consultant in 2011, the company aims to standardise curricula across American states by providing schools with five-minute mini-lessons featuring seasoned teachers. The platform is intended for both teachers and students, where the former can find material and the latter can draw inspiration and teaching techniques. LearnZillion has forged partnerships with a network of school systems in Washington D.C. and Syracuse, New York, to widen its reach.
Inkling used a collaboration strategy to jumpstart its business. The brand, which is known for digitising books into e-books has signed deals with textbook giants like Pearson and Elsevier to produce supremely digitised, academic material. By using its technical expertise with the large libraries of content houses, Inkling has become dizzyingly popular for its differentiated features like live Q&A sessions, tutorial videos and interactive games.
The five tips we’ve mentioned in this article can make a whole lot of difference in your edupreneurship journey. Keep them handy as you set up your business. They’re sure to see you through