When Zach Sims first started pitching his coding startup, Codecademy, he framed it to investors as a corporate tutoring company. That was intentional, despite the fact that edtech is a $5 trillion business.
“It was much easier for investors to understand instead of an education company,” he said, noting that the industry has long been defined by tight budgets and slow sales cycles.
But, as millions adopt remote learning overnight, edtech’s reputation is changing — and investors are scrambling accordingly. The revitalization means that a new wave of edtech startups is upon us. We asked four entrepreneurs who have been working in this space to share what they think the next billion-dollar business will look like. While we’ve covered the investor side of edtech quite a bit, it was refreshing to hear from founders and executives who are on the ground making decisions:
- Matthew Glotzbach, CEO, Quizlet
- Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO and president, DreamBox Learning
- Darren Shimkus, general manager, Udemy for Business
- Zach Sims, co-founder and CEO, Codecademy
How to sell: Classroom and outside the box
According to Matthew Glotzbach, CEO of Quizlet, “any edtech solution tailored toward schools and classrooms may find a significant headwind,” such as games or VR/AR headsets that need to be used within classroom settings. “Not because physical spaces are going away, but in this limited time, limited budget environment, teachers and administrators are going to spend their money on solutions that are more tailored toward distance.”
Startups should plan to be useful in both a pre-coronavirus and post-coronavirus world, likely hybridizing tech solutions that are useful for day-to-day classroom operations as well as remote learning.