The Biggest Takeaways From NY EdTech Week 2017

Festivals can be daunting and overwhelming. There are endless booths, swag, and speakers — sometimes, you don’t even know where to begin. We were thrilled with the opportunity to participate in the Global Innovation Education Festival: New York EdTech Week.

Kate with the founders of Weird Enough Productions, an educational organization that teaches students media literacy through memes, comics, and real life case studies.

Kate with the founders of Weird Enough Productions, an educational organization that teaches students media literacy through memes, comics, and real life case studies.

Our CEO, Kate Finnefrock, attended as a “shark” and met many innovative minds all striving to move education forward. She gave one-on-one advice to aspiring edtech entrepreneurs, and some common themes emerged. Here are our biggest takeaways from NY EdTech Week:

1. There are a lot of fantastic ideas in education, but it’s important to figure out who your target audience is — both your users and your buyers.

Creative ideas are endless, but Kate’s common question pushes all of them: who is your target audience? This may seem like a simple enough question, but it is the most critical when speaking to potential investors and making your product stand out from the rest. When you’ve really honed in on your niche audience and done your competitive analysis homework, that’s when an investor will know if your product has the potential to sell.

Check out the video below to hear which questions you should ask yourself when pitching at a startup festival!

2. Don’t go out and do efficacy research until you know what your buyer wants.

Nothing will hurt more when you’ve done all the research, but the potential buyer — well — doesn’t buy it. Go out and ask your potential customer, “If I had research that showed…, would that move you to buy?” Then embed research, especially on efficacy. Try to do this as soon as possible. If you need research later for an RFP or potential customer, you can’t go back and make it up. Not sure where to get started? Don’t hesitate to reach out to people or firms knowledgeable about research in the education space to point you in the right direction. Even with the limited time and budget most startups have, there are ways to make it happen.

NY EdTech Week Panel

Some of our favorite research experts led the important conversation around efficacy this week: Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, Bart Epstein of the Jefferson Education Accelerator, Ruth Neild of the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC), Lauren Henderson of tekMountain, and Elizabeth Rich of Education Week. And, to quote Bart, “Edtech efficacy research is a big problem we all have a stake in.” We couldn’t agree more.

3. Education is for all ages, not just K-12.

The adult learning space is ripe for technology disruption. With the advancement of artificial intelligence, jobs will be quickly disappearing. We need to solve the problem on how to educate workers who may be displaced from rapid technological innovations.

For example, there are 3.1 million truck drivers in the U.S. Many may be replaced by self-driving autonomous vehicles. If they can be trained as truck mechanics, jobs can be saved. They won’t all be able to undergo apprenticeships. To do this efficiently, there needs to be clear understanding of the skills of a good mechanic, a pathway to learn them, and a method of providing credentials that would be easily recognized by future employers.

Field after field is struggling with finding employees with just the right skills, and college degrees aren’t specific enough to meet the need. We expect the popularity of micro credentialing will increase even more in 2018, as it suits the needs of both learner and employer.

NY EdTech Week Panel 2

You can listen to Kate and Jenny wrap up their thoughts on NY EdTech Week below:

Did you attend NY EdTech Week? We’d love to know what you’ve learned and hear your thoughts @_ProjectEd