Why learners are not buying your EdTech Product?
We have seen the massive growth in the EdTech industry in the last five years. There are thousands of technology solutions flooded in the Ed-Tech market. Thanks to the technology revolution. Investors, entrepreneurs, and employees of EdTech companies feel that the Indian education industry is a hard nut to crack. In my experience of ten years of working in EdTech space across the globe, I have seen so many solutions die within one or two years of entering the market. Even though the Indian education space seems to be very big and lucrative, insider story is somewhat different. The majority of the education system is in the hands of the government and the majority of the decision-makers are not educationists. I have seen so many enthusiastic entrepreneurs or technocrats entering the market but struggle to sustain.
The saddest part in the Education industry is EdTech company receives an award this year for the best solution by a government agency/ by an international agency but next year it struggles to survive in the market. If you are also struggling in the EdTech space then the following may be the reasons for your struggle.
1) You are Tender-preneur
I am sorry. I have not coined this word. Please introspect yourself whether you are an entrepreneur or Tender-preneur?. In the majority of the countries, it is an open secret that tenders are managed and you are working with government systems which you won through tender. I am not saying that your product is not good or not adding value to the customers but sustainability is possible only when people are ready to pay for your solution. Please, remember metrics of measurement of ROI in the government system are different from the private sector. The private sector is more careful about the value addition and outcomes as compared to the government system.
You can not apply the business model of the government sector in the private sector.
2) You have not done any pilot.
You have assumed that technology is the best solution for an Education problem. You have not done any pilot in the field and built your product in your lab. You have not considered the opinion of the users ( schools and students) and you feel that your product is great only because your product is built on cutting edge technology. Now, when you go to the market, you observe that your product features are not attractive to the customers. Market needs are different and your solution has different features.
3) You have swayed away with small success.
In one geography or in the particular market segment you are able to sell your product and you are swayed away with your success. However, please check whether the same business model or pricing model that can be applied to another geography/market segment or not. The same business model may not work in every market segment.
You received an award by any government/ international NGO/ CSR of an MNC that does not mean that you will survive in the market for too long. Your government/CSR project is not a sign of success and assures revenue in the private sector. You will survive until your favorite government officer is in power😊 or your favorite CSR manager supports you. Please check whether the customers who are giving you great feedback for your government-funded/ CSR supported project are ready to pay you for the same services. If they are not ready to pay then you have to think again.
4) Value addition.
Have you ever thought of ‘what problem you are solving?’. ‘ Value addition’ has to be from the perspective of customers not from your perspective. Have you ever really checked in the market how your product is used by the learners? Have you asked the honest feedback and tried to improve your product? Please remember,
“Prodcuts are bought not sold”.
5) The output is not an outcome.
So many companies boost themselves that they are working with so many millions of learners or thousands of schools. I am sorry to say that the numbers are only the numbers you are minting or you can consider as output. The real outcomes are ‘learning outcomes’ which solve pain areas of the education system or the users ( parents/schools/students). Unless there is a measurable outcome, your EdTech solution is not going to be sustainable.
6) You are not listening
You are in love with ‘AI/Virtual Reality/ML/Data Science’ because that is where you have worked but customers are not falling in love with your product😁. Indian learners are very very smart. They agree that you have great technology but unfortunately, they also know that the internet does not work in their area/school and they are not going to buy your product. Please open yourself to market signals. I agree that technology can solve so many problems but think about technology infrastructure; Internet connectivity, availability of laptops, accessibility of computers, and availability of electricity may be obstacles for the users to use your EdTech solution.
Learning is a complex socio-economic process and involves so many factors. We assume that all the students have laptops, everywhere the internet works, every school has computer literate teachers, all the schools have a 24*7 electricity facility and every student knows English. We all agree that EdTech solutions are dependent on these factors and in many cases, our assumptions go for a toss and we end up wondering why our great EdTech solution is not bought by any customers.
Second thing is that technology is only one part of the whole story of the EdTech industry. There are important aspects other than technology like ‘Operation efficiency’ ‘ Customer Education’ ‘ Customer Success’ etc which are important for the success of your product. You have to be open to market feedback and work on improving the technology model and business model of your EdTech product by focussing on other aspects as well.
7) The outcome of your solution is not aligned with the dreams/objectives of the learner.
This is a very important point you need to observe. I completely with you that you have a great product which helps the students in learning. But learning is more complex and general word to understand. It is something longterm and more intellectual in nature. In simple words, tell me how your solution helps the student to get a job?. Tell me how your solution helps the student to get better marks in a competitive exam? If your solution makes me smart after five years, then I am not interested in your solution. Tell me how the technology solution helps me in solving my immediate problems or helps me to achieve my immediate goals now.
Why do not you apply SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) principles to the outcomes of your product?. If you are not getting the perfect answer to this question then your salesperson is beating around the bush. If you find a perfect answer to this question then it is easy to communicate to buyers about the benefits of your EdTech solution clearly and the sales process becomes easy and simple.
8) Understand the Ecosystem
If your EdTech solution is in B2B2C and you are going to work with Educational institutes, then understand the ecosystem carefully and communicate the benefits clearly. In many cases, I have seen that teachers fear that you are replacing them and reducing their importance. Teaching and learning is not an ‘ IT delivery’ and there is a lot of human interaction involves. Unless there is involvement by the teachers and school management, your product will not be used by the students.
9) Litmus test.
Being a parent or being a brother will buy your product for your kid or sister? I have seen the products which can record the ‘teaching process in the classroom’ and value proposition is that school management can monitor the teachers. If so, will you install the same camera at your home to monitor your kid or your wife? Are you going to install it at your office to monitor your employees? Do you want to send your son to study in the school where video lessons ( content is from your company) are played instead of teachers and students can interact with remote call center agents for doubt clearance?. Are you going to send your kid to a school where ‘Alexa’ answers the questions of your son?. Are you going to send your daughter to a school where lessons are played remotely and displayed on a TV?
Are you going to buy your product for your son or daughter? If your honest answer is ‘NO’ then think again about your EdTech product which you are advocating. If you are advocating the same in government systems or affordable schools please think twice.
Published by Sateesh Hegde
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.