Guest post by Monica Brady-Myerov, founder and CEO of Listen Current
New marketplaces have popped up allowing K-12 district administrators and teachers to purchase content, creating new entry points for ed-tech startups to sell their tools.
Recently, publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced the creation of HMH Marketplace, an online selling market for peer educators and commercial providers. These new marketplaces are meant to make it easier for teachers and administrators to find useful tools.
They can also help companies like mine, Listen Current, get into school budgets. But it’s not that easy for a number of reasons.
Which Site Do you Trust to Share Your Product?
With so many marketplaces sprouting up, it’s hard to know which one to trust and which ones are really going to take off. From a company perspective, we consider where we can get the most exposure and bring in revenue, or at least not hurt our sales model of selling subscriptions to schools and districts. It can be very hard to navigate.
Most marketplaces require you to add your content to their format, make it interactive on their platform and control purchasing. That means your company only gets a percentage of the revenue and doesn’t form a relationship with the customer.
On the upside, these marketplaces can bring millions of eyeballs to your resources very quickly, broadening your audience scope and boosting revenue.
ShareMyLesson, supported by the American Federation of Teachers is visited by more than 3 million users a month and offers free lessons. We’ve posted free lessons on there and seen good traffic. But it’s not helping our bottom line.
Teachers Pay Teachers has been very successful and gives teachers an outlet for their work. But it’s not designed to allow district leaders to make large purchases. And it’s not geared toward publishers to add content or sell subscriptions instead of individual lessons.
For districts, marketplaces like NoodleMarkets are attractive because the company is building a platform to make district purchasing easier. But how will a subscription-based supplemental materials company like mine fit in?
We are looking at joining Learn Trials, a marketplace supported by the University of North Carolina. Learn Trials says it’s the first and only research-based education technology management system. It’s building an app store for ed tech that will allow companies to publish their pricing and get reviewed and recommended by educators.
Call the Concierge!
All these marketplaces can give ed-tech companies and district administrators a headache so it’s no surprise that a few premium services have cropped up to navigate the Wild West of marketplaces.
EdSurge Concierge promises to help districts quickly find tailored resources for their schools. It’s more of a consultant process. Akin to getting a good recommendation for a restaurant from the hotel concierge when you are traveling, EdSurge Concierge promises to assemble a list of the best edtech options based on district needs. But how does an edtech start-up like ours get on the list? When you are the new restaurant in town, it can take a while to get noticed.
Placing Our Bet on Ed-Tech Futures
Nobody knows how all these companies and this space will shake out in five years. Will two companies emerge as the iTunes and Netflix of education? Will the upstarts be successful, or the traditional publishing companies that are getting into the marketplace game?
I’m confident marketplaces will be an important sales distribution channel in the future of ed tech. That’s why we are taking a good look now to determine where we should place our bets and our content.
- The Risks of Ed-Tech Entrepreneurship
- Finding the Technical Know-How to Build Your Great Startup Idea
- What’s in a Startup Name? How to Choose One That Fits Your Company
For more information, visit @ListenCurrent on Twitter.