Education · K-12 education

Is a startup in Education Technology viable as a business?

Igor Fridman Science & commercialization expert, VP Research. Quantum, Sensors, Electronics, Education, SBIR, R&D

Last updated on August 2nd, 2018

I am working to disrupt how schools (grades 8-12; early Undergrad) teach science by innovating the technology available for hands-on demonstrations in the classroom. Although the technology is novel and there is some demand from kids/teachers, I am learning some hard facts about the Ed. Tech. business:

  1. Schools spend ~$30 per student per year on classroom tech (the cost of my product would be on the order of $500 each, with 5-6 pieces needed to outfit a classroom)
  2. It takes years to get tech into a classroom, with multiple decision makers and buyers involved in purchasing decisions
  3. The product is not an off-the-shelf toy from Best Buy -- it is a state-of-the-art piece of scientific equipment. Teachers require a high level of training and support to use the product, which will drive the high product costs.

I wrong in any of these findings? Is this a viable business, or should I consider doing this as a non-profit driven by the social mission? There's always the possibility of crowdfunding, gov't grants or Angel funding, but I would rather sell & massively scale in order to get the prices down so that it's affordable for everyone.

David M

August 5th, 2018

What does your business plan dictate?

Vishal Samuel Ceo & Founder @ Purple Artech Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Last updated on November 19th, 2018

Edtech is really consuming.if your model can be arranged to make a meaningful impact in the manufacturing sector it would be really great.I'm working on one in the recruitment industry.

Bryan Riester Operations

August 28th, 2018

Are you familiar with and other meal-kit deliveries? I'd love to code out a business for you that delivers science kits wherever they're needed :D

I think it'd save cost to share equipment between schools with a social scheduling module that allows science teachers to follow round-robin equipment shares - 5 modules and 5 teachers = 20% cost for each! Hit me in PMs for the tech-stack, I've done things like this before in other industries and would love to accommodate your idea :D I have a number of marketing professionals in my rolodex who'd love to take on the social aspect as well.

We can fund this with education grants, yes. Partnering with an actual education organization would give us access to STEM grants - that money is desperate for good use. Lots of startup capital available. (But doesn't sound so necessary to be honest!)

Alexandre Azevedo Founder of The Traction Stage Blog & Podcast

August 14th, 2018

Hello, Igor! Nice to meet you.

EdTechs are on the spot and your question is very interesting.

Of course, it's hard to say yes or no to this question, without fully understanding what your technology is about.

However, I would take ask you:

- Are you able to deliver a higher value to the school (for the higher price you ask)? In other words, is your product somehow: differentiating students education in a much higher (and visible) level? OR is it bringing more students to the school (in a rate that offset school's costs)?

- Are you able to arrange your business model elements to reconsider your revenue streams? For instance, you could partially or totally transfer the costs to advertisers or other stakeholder...

If you can't do any of those things and you can't justify your prices to schools, I would still think about other markets that need this kind of technology to educate (workers training, industry events, etc).

Once technology prices tend to fall as the time goes by, if your prices are too high now for schools, you could try to disrupt education in other industries until the prices for schools get low enough to make the business viable.

Good luck and success!!!


Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

August 28th, 2018

My closest friend is the Vice Board Chair of a large school district in a state with two incredibly innovative universities. His advice is "if your business model is built on selling to public schools, you need a new business model". Contrary to popular theory, particularly in a localized financial crises caused by loss of Federal funding masked as "tax reform", they juggle so many agendas that this is not one they would push to the top of the list. You are better off driving into the Charter and Private schools alone, and let the public schools "discover" you at some point in the future.

Tina Wefer Product, Growth, Scalability & Execution in Software & Services, Kellogg MBA, Pragmatic Certified

August 28th, 2018

All of those things are true but schools do find money for products and services they see as valuable (beneficial at a price point they can get approved).

Are there other opportunities to place your product first? Without knowing more about it, can they initially be placed in science museums where someone works it and visitors can interact with it? Or schools could schedule time each week to take students to interact with it. Or, even better, will the technology be small/lightweight enough that it could travel and the same person takes the product and uses it at different schools, so that teachers don't need the training and support? Is this something the schools would use a few hours a week or every day?