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BUSINESS

FROM AN IDEA TO A MONEY-MAKING EDTECH WEB-APP

March 19, 2018

SERGEY STUKAN
CMO
Education technology startups pop up every day, though not all of them break even. Today we'll share our take on the main steps to get in on the EdTech action and go from an idea to an MVP to a money-making product.

IS IT TOO LATE TO GET INTO EDTECH?

The educational technology market has exploded over the last couple of years. According to EdTechXGlobal, by 2020 EdTech will turn into $252 billion industry due to a 17% annual growth. Besides Google, Apple, and Microsoft, thousands of startups have joined the race to monetize educational software. To stand out and succeed new products have to address the unmet needs and provide answers to unsolved problems.

There are established leaders, but that should not deter ambitious startups from entering the market. Instead, we should learn from the best and surpass their success.

  • Coursera is the leading MOOC platform with thousands of courses on any subject. It's user-friendly, and most of the content is free unless users wish to get a shareable certificate or attain specializations.
  • Khan Academy provides free, world-class education for everyone and helps learners, their parents, and teachers. There are classes, tutorials, and quizzes for every school subject. The Academy is a non-profit organization that survives on volunteer help and donations.
  • Science360 collects and organizes advanced scientific content from experts and institutions and makes it available for everyone. Learners can watch videos, read the latest scientific news and listen to the radio. The National Scientific Foundation supports the project.
  • Big Think is a knowledge forum of over 2,000 leading thinkers and doers from around the globe. They cover the critical topics that should be the focus of humanity's attention. Articles, videos, and podcasts are available for everyone, while Big Think Edge offers premium content for business owners willing to invest in their team's professional development.
  • Kahoot! is a game-based educational platform for teachers, professors and managers to introduce new knowledge in a fun and engaging way. Intuitive interface helps to create exciting games for classroom and office environments. Most of the features and free while business software solutions are premium.

HOW DO YOU CREATE AN EDTECH STARTUP?

It's not enough to join the fray and create your own app; you need to have a step-by-step plan of your application development. You can't ignore these four milestones:

  1. Identify the client and the user. While you develop an educational application for children, their parents will be the ones to purchase it. The same way, school administrators decide whether to pay for your solution, even if it is aimed at teachers and students. Identify all stakeholders and move onto the next stage.
  2. Understand the user's requirements. You've spent years in classrooms, but that doesn't mean you know what teachers and learners need. Therefore, marketing research is still a must. Talk to your potential clients, research their problems, interview them and create user personas to fulfill customers' needs better.
  3. Create an MVP. Your ideas might seem incredible on paper or in your mind, but only a real-life test can validate them. A minimum viable product can take on a form of a mockup, a crude application or even a landing page. It will help evaluate the size of the potential audience and fine-tune the product before you spend too much time and money on a doomed project.
  4. Select a custom software development company. Choosing an outsourcing development team is a long process of defining and prioritizing requirements, researching the market and gathering information, creating a shortlist of prospective partners and interviewing each company. Still, this step is crucial to your project's success, so you don't want to cut corners.

HOW TO GO FROM ZERO TO AN EDTECH MVP?

Once you have found your web development company, start working on an MVP. You will need to go through four main stages:

  • Research and analysis. Once again you need to concentrate on the target users and their needs. Create an empathy map to identify the client's priorities and motivations quickly. Stakeholder map is another useful tool to concentrate on the people influenced by the project.
  • Scoping. At this stage, you need to focus on the primary benefits your project can provide users as opposed to the main competitors. Elevator pitching and creating storyboards based on target personas developed during the research stage facilitate the initial design efforts.
  • Prototyping. Without wasting valuable time on careful design, start with wireframe prototypes and flow diagrams to get a general idea of the product's look and user interactions that will lead clients to achieve their goals.
  • Usability testing. You don't need an app developer to test usability at the early stages. Instead, use paper prototyping that can emulate clicks and transitions without extra expenses. Introduce the concept to outside observers to ensure the interface is intuitive and user-friendly.
An MVP is not a crippled version of the future project. Instead, it is a finished product with enough customer value and vision to attract first adopters. You can seek them through any available means, like posting guest articles in popular blogs, similar to Hackernoon.com, creating an account at Product hunt and other platforms or directing beta-users to a landing page.

The primary goal of an MVP is to determine whether the concept of the product is worth further development. And to decide, you will need customer feedback. Collecting real user reviews and feedback will guide the project's evolution.

An MVP is not a finished product even if users enjoy it. While early adopters are ready to deal with glitches and faulty features, your EdTech product should be bug-free and fully functional before you market it. Think of an MVP development as an iterative process of implementing incremental improvements that will ultimately lead to the finished product. And using the concept of the minimum viable product, you will reach this goal much sooner and with fewer expenses.

HOW TO GET FROM AN MVP TO A MONEY-MAKING PRODUCT?

After the MVP provides you with enough feedback and user data, engage web development services of your team to go from the proof of concept to a finished product. Use customer reviews and behavior analysis to improve the project and make it easier to use, add the features your customers found lacking. Follow the MVP modernization plan step-by-step until your beta-users are satisfied with the product.

New education web-apps face a lot of opposition and challenges, so plan the launch carefully to increase the chance of success. Outline the marketing strategy before you bring the product to the market and focus on the right promotion channels for your target audience. The whole world might be on Facebook, but not all teachers have accounts and are willing to adopt social media.

There is still time to cash in on EdTech. Though education startup development can be a slow and painful process, the potential revenue is well worth it. Model the best strategies of successful EdTech startups, employ the software development services of a trustworthy company, and enjoy the success of your project!
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