Moodlepreneur Monday: The ‘VC Gap Problem’ Affects EdTech Too. Here’s How EM Startups Can Overcome It

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Moodlepreneur Monday: The 'VC Gap Problem' Affects EdTech Too. Here's How EM Startups Can Overcome It
“Capital” by Catalan via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

The world’s inequality is a multi-pronged phenomenon whose causes, mechanisms, and repercussions exceed any one person’s scope. Suffice it to say that it is at least possible in the financing available for EdTech entrepreneurs around the world. While Silicon Valley might be enduring a crisis due to “too much money,” other places, most notably the developing world, are full of promising ideas that lack the necessary support to become reality. VC funds are highly concentrated, not just to a few countries but to three cities.

Arguably, the ecosystem —or lack thereof— in some regions makes it harder for investors to evaluate risk and deploy funds —even though the so called “Emerging Markets” (EM) have proven to be solid opportunities for several years now. This means that EdTech EM startups still need to make extra effort to get the world’s top VC companies to pay more attention.

But what kinds of efforts are those? Popular EdTech blogger Matthew Lynch, at The Edvocate, offers some inspiration for the following ideas:

  • Put all your digital eggs in one basket. As the cost of developing software continues to decline, it becomes easier to focus on good ideas and less risky to make them a company’s key value differential. The trade-off here is letting a team pursue a unique path with a measure of risk proportional to its success, rather than just following the technological fads.
  • Quantify your niches. It’s always better to cater a clearly identifiable group of customers (or several) than to try to please them all. But telling them apart is just the beginning. Segments evolve and preferences and needs change over time, especially when we’re talking about the digital consumer. Keep them under constant surveillance.
  • Don’t stop building before the user problem is identified beyond reasonable doubt. And even then, keep iterating. But as Lynch warns, keep in mind that a recurring part of the problem in global education is pricing for access. So make your Minimum Viable Product as humble as possible. Thanks to today’s technology, an open source in particular, it has never been easier to build amazing tools for the classroom under budgetary constraints.
  • Bonus: Try building a Moodle plugin first. The suggestions above can all be applied if you would rather leverage the Moodle platform (by creating a plugin) instead of building from scratch. It is less expensive in terms of infrastructure and user acquisition costs, and you stand to benefit from a particularly vocal community that understands the value of quality feedback. Besides, you can build your plugin using the same technologies as you would for the modern web, so it’s easy to expand your customer base outside Moodle should you ever need to.

Read “Affordable Ways that Edtech Startups Can Develop Apps” at theedadvocate.org.


eThink LogoThis Moodle Practice related post is made possible by: eThink Education, a Certified Moodle Partner that provides a fully-managed Moodle experience including implementation, integration, cloud-hosting, and management services. To learn more about eThink, click here.