Back in December I wrote about the EdTechup conference and the wonderfully balanced energy in the room among both entrepreneurs and educators. We just celebrated the one-year anniversary of EdTechup here in Boston and it was a huge hit – on a Friday night no less. I was lucky enough to be asked to speak to my experiences in growing a startup in education technology – in Boston.
I essentially captured 3 lessons learned over the last two years in growing iCreate, all focused on how to gain grassroots traction in schools, which is what we’ve been able to do.
1) Freemium is key. There are so many new technological tools out there how is any teacher or school supposed to gauge what works for them? Well, by offering a free version – perhaps it’s limited feature or limited time – then the teachers can actually take the opportunity to try it out! This is huge for teachers that have limited budgets to spend.
2) Focus on just one thing to change. We are all generally frustrated about the purchasing process in schools, but to be honest, if your company is not focused on changing that process, then don’t spend energy trying to change it. Focus the energy on the offering you have and then do whatever you can to accommodate the purchasing process. It will make life less stressful for all involved.
3) Make sure the tech director is happy. If you’re integrating new technology into the schools, it’s obviously important to be sure you have your teachers on board, but you also need to absolutely make sure the tech director is in the know. They are responsible for implementing and supporting all things technical and if you don’t make it easy for them, and/or don’t keep them in the loop, adoption and general support for your tool will be significantly more difficult.
There are countless other tips and best practices for building a small edtech company in K12, but these have been my 3 main take-aways and I hope they are helpful to others beyond the Edtechup gatherings.