EdTech Startups: Discovering Your First Route-To-Market

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Got a great idea to revolutionize education? Already begun developing your new education app? Well, here are some tips on how to choose your business direction.

UK-based investors are notorious for scrutinizing every little detail regarding the monetization of a new product or service; rarely do they only fund a vision. They want to see realistic numbers, and proof that they will materialize. The biggest question being asked by EdTech startups in the UK is therefore this:

“How do we make money, and fast?”

With educational institutions steeped in bureaucracy and tightly-controlled budgets, surviving the first couple of years as an early-stage EdTech company selling to schools in the UK is certainly no easy task. Similarly, creating a new consumer product that stands out from the crowd is incredibly challenging and often involves a lengthy period of development. As an EdTech startup in the UK, it can frequently feel like you are playing a game of chicken-and-the-egg: The investor needs to see school partnership deals and generated revenue before putting in their money, but the co-founder needs the investment first to give themselves enough time to secure those deals and revenue.

Seeking Guidance

For school-focused startups, UK-based accelerator programs such as Emerge Education exist to help with the daunting and hazy minefield of publishing deals, selling directly to schools, and distribution agreements. For consumer-focused companies, there are non-education-centred programs, such as the Ignite accelerator program in Newcastle (and soon in London), which can do a lot to steer you in the right direction and help you land that first round of funding. These programs are a fantastic starting point to help shape your route-to-market, your business model, and your product development.

Deciding On Your First Route-To-Market

If, however, you wish to brave the educational expanse alone, understanding your options at the start of your entrepreneurial journey is key to ensuring that you waste no time scuttling down an interminable rabbit hole of ineffective business models and deals that never materialize.

Before deciding on your chosen model for generating revenue, you need to understand the internal workings and capabilities of your company. This is something that Wibbu continually assess all throughout the development process, but it is especially vital at the start.

I like to split up these capabilities as follows:

  • Financial resources
  • Technical resources
  • Sales resources
  • Market receptiveness
  • Time

As you begin to analyze these categories, you will start to see that they all influence one another. A lack of money will mean less technical and development resources, which in turn may increase production time or create a lower quality product. On the other hand, a school market that is ready and waiting for your product, mixed with a sales team that is experienced in selling to schools will likely lead to faster revenue generation at launch.

Remember Your Vision

Once you understand these five areas of your company, you are ready to make a better judgement on which route-to-market to follow first. The goal is to create a product or service of value, to begin generating revenue, and to prove that it can scale. If this means starting out with a consumer product for two years before you set out to accomplish your dream of selling to primary schools then this may be a necessary compromise.

Education is an incredibly exciting industry for startups. It is, however, a tough industry. As entrepreneurs, it is in our nature to create products and services that help people improve their lives. Keep this at the heart of your vision and start by finding the right business model to lay the foundations for a solid, sustainable business.



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