Good EdTech investment balances profit and purpose
The tech sector attracts more investment than any other sector. No surprise when you consider that it powers some of the world’s top growing industries; life sciences, online retail and new media to name a few.
Tech has revolutionised many traditional industries, enabling transformative efficiency gains. But EdTech is different.
You could look at the way technology has disrupted other industries and apply those same rules to EdTech but you would be missing an important point. Education requires a unique, values-based approach, and any EdTech company that ignores this, does so at its own risk.
Education affects us all and EdTech can be a great leveller, boosting individual growth, social mobility and progress in society by opening up quality education to more learners, levelling the playing field.
It can help teachers target their efforts to individual student needs and help connect learners, educators and parents to generate better learning outcomes.
EdTech has the potential to revolutionise education exponentially, using tech for good.
However, any EdTech company that doesn’t sufficiently appreciate the roles of the teacher, student and parent, and the challenges they face, will eventually fail. Parents care deeply about the educational mission of education services providers.
So do teachers, the real cogs in the education machinery, most of whom became educators in the first place because of a deeply felt commitment to inspire learners, helping each student realise her or his inherent potential.
In EdTech, a firm commitment to empowering each individual learner is not only rewarding from a karma perspective, it is critical to the long-term commercial success of your business.
We all have experience of education to draw on but, from an investor’s point of view, a company with a deep, first-hand understanding of real-life education has a big advantage, particularly when it comes to content-driven EdTech.
I invested in Studycat, which provides language learning solutions for youngsters with fun, game-based content, for that reason.
As a business, it started out in a brick and mortar format, with a chain of schools run by its three founders. Having created their own content, then optimising it over many years, the company was in the enviable position of really knowing what works.
Great content can take you far and, in EdTech, it’s a crucial factor – if you build your audience and then run out of quality or quantity of content, growth tends to stall.
Companies need a strong content pipeline, and, crucially, a differentiated capability to create more. Ultimately, in education, content wins.
I look for companies with healthy tech savvy, great content creation capabilities and a large user base that can expand rapidly. I look for evidence of impact, a thirst for continuous learning and a company culture that supports innovation.
Lastly, in EdTech, I look for companies with a mission-driven approach, putting education first. When I find all this, then I know my investment has the potential to make a real difference.