What’s a Startup to Do When a Giant Like Google Invades the Market Space?

Founder, CEO & Chief Data Wizard at Schoolrunner

What do you do when a big player in your space starts giving away something of value for free?

We’ve had a textbook example lately with Google launching Classroom as a simple, free Learning Management System (LMS) for K-12 schools. Historically LMS adoption in K-12 has been spotty, as the majority of the offerings have been either drastically underpowered or aimed at the different needs of a higher education environment.

Google was able to come in and suss out a couple of simple use cases that teachers are flocking to:

  1. The need for a simple homepage to post resources for students to access.
  2. The need for a quick way to create an online quiz (using Google Forms) and have it be graded automatically.
  3. The ability o assign an essay to kids and give feedback right in the document.

Take those features, add Google’s existing foothold in K-12 and put a price tag of free on it and you’ve really got something. The challenge of course is that companies have different ways of making money. As a startup you’re likely to be charging directly for your product or service and yet Google can push free apps as sidecars for their G Suite and Chromebook business lines.

As a startup in this space you have to adjust quickly to add value without getting trampled. For Schoolrunner that meant leveraging the things Google’s good at (see above) and integrating their data to enhance our own value proposition (all school data in one place).

There are many ways to handle it when a whale starts splashing around in your space, but for us the clear path was to be #withClassroom–better than trying to go up against Google!

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Image via @GoogleForEdu


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