by Gary Hess, Global Marketing Manager, US

The immense influx of edtech businesses should be leading the charge to a new, innovative path of seamless technological integration into the education sector, and in many areas, it is.

However, there’s still the ongoing issue of quality vs. quantity and the question looms as to how many of these businesses are actually realising positive impact in the sector. Market research firm, CB Insights, compiled a report on the Top 20 reasons edtech start-ups fail. The number one reason?

‘No market need’

Globally, over $37.8 billion has been invested in educational technology companies between 1997 and 2017. 62% of that was invested in just the last three years between 2015 and 2017.

Know your audience

Nicole Ponsford, is an education and technology specialist, author, currently a digital leader @WomenEd_Tech, co- founder of TechnoTeachers (a global edtech consultancy) and has worked for more than a decade in schools as an award-winning advanced-skills teacher and school leader. She believes that there’s a real lack of understanding of the true inner workings of the education system in the booming world of edtech. “There’s often a gap between the needs of schools and teachers, and what businesses are offering. It might look good, but are there learning outcomes attached to it that can be integrated into our new curriculums?”

Nicole is from an extensive teaching background and has always been aware of the importance of a tech rich learning environment, but this hybrid skill set isn’t as common as you would have thought. “The key is knowing how your tech will fit into education – having an idea as a parent or business doesn’t mean you always understand the pedagogical approaches needed in the classroom. If you aren’t sure, get into a school and see how it will truly work in practice”.

Understanding the realities of your market

Start-ups also need to navigate the issue around lack of funding and a slower uptake to tech adoption by schools and teachers. Many teachers come from a traditional teaching background Ponsford states, “there is often a disconnect with how technology fits into their teaching”. Also, the challenge of changing the way you’ve always done something can’t be understated– it is a huge investment in time and effort and there are a lot of other demands on teachers and schools today.

Driving clarity and focus

So, what can start-ups do (and investors demand) when looking to innovate and disrupt the sector? Start by following the principles of building a powerful brand. Of course, the nugget of the idea is critical, but using your brand to drive focus and clarity from the outset gives you a greater chance of success. Brands are part of the fabric of modern life. As consumers, we all know a good one when we see and experience it. The world’s most exciting brands connect with us on a deeper level, answering our needs in brilliant, unexpected ways.

They’re authentic, future-facing and have the competitive advantage, long-term.

Your company’s brand is not just a logo; it’s the idea that drives the business, through focused investment – an expression of who you are, and what you stand for.