Validation is key. It’s one thing for entrepreneurs to say that their ed-tech product is great, but it is a whole different level of affirmation when a user–or, better yet, an evangelist–proclaims the effectiveness of the product.
There are two types of validation: user affirmation and independent research studies. Today, we will share information about the importance of cultivating relationships with grassroots, word-of-mouth, in-the-trenches users who would do anything to help your product succeed.
Out of the Mouths of Evangelists
Getting this type of affirmation requires having users who are willing to attach their name and their reputation to the product. They do this by proclaiming, “This works!” or “This saves me time,” and “My students love it.”
Acquiring this type of user requires three things:
- The product needs to solve a real problem in education, one that does not currently have a solution, or (much more likely) has at least one solution, but the solution is flawed;
- Entrepreneurs must already have, or need to, develop relationships with teachers, principals, superintendents of schools; and
- The entrepreneur must have be determined to expand those connections and convert more teachers to evangelists.
The most powerful component of a recent investor pitch party we attended for our startup was when two teachers discussed the ways their students were spontaneously integrating new vocabulary, learned through our vocabulary app, into classroom activities. Investors were impressed by what these teachers had to say.
Our private practices as speech language pathologists enabled us to establish relationships with educators who have become key reviewers of our products. Because the products make so much sense to anyone who works the students struggling to understand complex definitions, there was no “sell” needed.
Instead, these educators put themselves in the position of advocating on our behalf to have their schools participate in beta testing of our vocabulary app. Once one school signed on, it was only weeks before four additional schools signed on.
The number of quotes from teacher-users of our apps is expanding. The number of teachers who have suggested Communication Apptitude would be an awesome place to work is also growing! Stay tuned for our discussion of independent research validation.