What is your experience?
I have been investing in high growth private companies for most of my working life, having been a partner in a private equity business, an angel investor, and now Chief Investment Officer at Nesta, a charity that has been one of the UK’s most active ventures and impact investors for 15 years. Education is one of the core areas that Nesta concentrates on and we are one of the leading early stage European edtech investors.
Where do you think the opportunity lies in edtech?
The opportunities for technology to play a role in the fundamental restructuring of the education system are huge. We can be confident that the way we teach, learn and measure educational achievement will be very different in 20 years’ time. However, in the short term, building momentum in a fragmented and politicised industry can be challenging.
I think that the key challenges and therefore opportunities that need to be addressed are:
- using data to improve targeted learning;
- validating high quality educational content;
- building both tools and cultures that value and measure creative and emotional skills; and
- helping manage the scarce resources in the education system much more efficiently.
What is your relationship with Emerge?
I have been involved with Emerge since the beginning of its development as an ed tech specialist. I am on the board and have been an investor in every cohort.
What advice would you give to a budding edtech entrepreneur?
Address a real problem. Build inherent barriers to entry into your business. Raise as much cash as you can to grow quickly: investment markets are cyclical and you never know when the money will disappear. Apply to the Emerge program!