EdTech Startups Failure: 5 Reasons & Examples To Learn From

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If you're thinking about starting an EdTech startup, there are certainly some factors to keep in mind. We'll walk you through the failure of 5 startups - and the lessons you can learn from them.

The EdTech industry is growing at a rapid pace and it is predicted that its value will rise to $252 billion by 2020. Dozens of innovative startups appear every year, each with a good idea at its core. However, as is always the case in business, a great number of these businesses fail without ever getting a chance to revolutionize the education system. Learning from their mistakes can help others to succeed and push the development of education forward.

5 EdTech Startup Failures & What You Can Learn From Them


KNO, which initially started as Kakai Inc., is a classic example of ‘how not to do business’. Its spectacular failure, from raising over $73 million in capital to being sold for $15 million to Intel, shows exactly why market research is important.

This EdTech startup failed not due to some technical flaw in its product or lack of cash, but because the product it offered was unneeded. There was also the unfortunate matter of the iPad release, which pushed KNO tablets down in the list of priority buys for students.

The startup tried to claw its way back up but was ultimately unable to do so because its target market didn’t need what it had to offer. Thus the first and most important lesson for any EdTech startup which wants to succeed is to first research the market thoroughly. You need to be 100% certain that there will be a receptive audience for your products or services.


The failure of SharpScholar came as a shock to many of its users and those who follow Ed Tech industry developments. This startup seemed to have everything one could dream of in this type of business. It gained recognition fast, became featured in relevant media and won several awards. Most importantly, the product helped thousands of students to get taken on by major universities.

SharpScholar was a highly effective assessment tool, but even its resounding success wasn’t enough for the startup to survive in the long term and the creators of the business themselves admit that there were multiple reasons for this. However, the most important lesson to be learned from this particular story is that the education industry itself might not necessarily be ready to accept your innovative product. Teachers and officials responsible for the current education system regulations are not always receptive to your ideas. The best way to work around this is to launch a major marketing campaign and secure official support from those who will have an influence on the progress of your project.


Colllabo was a lesson plan and collaboration tool for teachers which aimed to boost the efficiency of the teaching community. The idea itself was sound, as today there are several similar platforms which operate with some success. However, this particular tool, which was the first of its kind, failed rapidly due to a lack of dedication.

This was the view expressed by the creator of Colllabo AJ Juliani in his blog. The lesson to take from this is to be prepared to focus on the development, improvement, and promotion of your startup. Have a business plan and ensure that it gets the necessary amount of attention, even if it isn’t your primary project at that moment in time.


The failure of Tutorspree was a bit of a mystery for many because it was hardly the only online tutoring marketplace on the market. Many similar businesses succeeded, although even they didn’t revolutionize the education system.

Tutorspree’s failure occurred due to the inherent weakness in the system within which it was intended to work. Simply put, Tutorspree brought tutors and students together successfully which was why it functioned well for a few years, but once they were connected they often neglected the platform and chose instead to work directly with each other. If your startup plan revolves around an idea which might end up facing the same issues, make sure that the contracts you sign with the platform’s users are ironclad.

Knack for Teachers

Like many startups before it, Knack for Teachers failed because people weren’t using it. The project itself (online grade book) had merit and the success of several similar products demonstrates that it was viable, but this business’ development did not get the attention which it needed.

Never forget that no matter how good your idea is and how well your startup performs at the beginning, you still have to put in a conscious effort into improving and marketing it or else your customers will be swayed to a newer fad.



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