Why Education Startups Do Not Succeed - Posts - Quora
Ottway Ducard stashed this in education
So, what has the lack of an education done to the typical AmericanÃ¢s life? ItÃ¢s removed job security, screwed your retirement, and maybe set you up to go bankrupt if you get sick. There are no immediate consequences, there are no immediate consequences for your children, but there is an immediate cost. So the average person thinks of education as an expenditure. If you get sick when youÃ¢re 70, youÃ¢re screwed. Or if you donÃ¢t save in your 401k, you may have to work till youÃ¢re dead. Or maybe your children wonÃ¢t be as competitive in a global workforce 30 years. DonÃ¢t believe me? Only 15% of kids taking the SAT pay for an out of school test prep course like Kaplan. Over 50% of Americans donÃ¢t have beyond a high school degree.
This fundamental investment vs. expenditure mindset changes everything. You think of education as fundamentally a quality problem. The average person thinks of education as fundamentally a cost problem.
What does this mean for education companies?
Educational companies that focus on delivering higher quality solutions to consumers will not scale to the mainstream. Educational companies built around driving down costs to the end consumer will scale. Or a corollary, an enterprise sales or government sales company that taps into government revenue streams will scale but will not have a consumer Internet growth curve.
We'll fix the formatting issue soon.
It's sad that with education, increasing quality does not scale but reducing costs does scale.
It depends upon your definition of quality.
The education system, as we know it, was derived from the Prussian military education system and brought over to this country by Horace Mann and others around the 1830s. The grade system, letter scoring, the regimented class structure, even loco parentis.. all were designed not with learning in mind, but with OBEDIENCE as the primary emphasis and subservience to the established order as it's objective, i.e. turn out "good little citizens".
We call our education system broken because we're taught to believe it was designed to educate us. However, it can't.. because it was never really intended to educate us. Just like you can't polish a turd, you can't add quality to something who's fundamental attributes stand at odds to the stated objective.
I've worked on an education startup and my father has been involved with education reform for a long time and I don't think the problem is this complicated. It's the huge bureaucracy with distributed decision making at the District level where each district has its own problems. And the textbook lobby ensures that only the large textbook companies have "approved" content.
Startups don't have much of a chance for the same reason they have trouble making enterprise sales to large government customers. The same fundamental hurdles are in place.
So do you believe that going direct to teachers is a viable solution?
Not really, because each school district has a different set of issues, so a "sale" isn't necessarily repeatable. There needs to be some buy-in by someone at the bureaucratic level which can "approve" content and mandate distribution.
I suppose it can be done, but it's a very uphill battle.