A few readers have confronted me on one of the blog’s themes recently. “The education market isn’t devoid of investors and money,” they remark. “Fortunes have been made in the education space. Look at test prep and private tutoring.”
They’re right. Plenty of companies have done very well selling services that will raise your SAT score by 300 points – or your money back. Connecting students with private tutors has also proved a lucrative enterprise, so much so that many web companies have emerged in recent years to lay a stake in the new digital version of this market by facilitating webcam exchanges.
But we’re not interested in these models for the same reason they’ve been successful in the past: they cater to only the wealthiest sliver of students in the world. Don’t get me wrong – we want the wealthiest private schools and students using Lingt. . . right along with every public and disadvantaged classroom that wants to use technology to improve the quality of education.
So when we write about the education market, we are using shorthand for a subset: schools. Charter, public, private, immersion, urban, overseas – we want to benefit as many students as possible, not just the ones who have the luxury of a wealthy background. It’s this challenge that scares investors and entrepreneurs from engaging schools. The bureaucracy and slow purchase cycles associated with selling to schools are intimidating, for sure, but the rewards to our education system that will come if more young ventures feel comfortable working for and with schools are too great to ignore.