Edtech · Advisors

How important is it for Teachers to be Edtech Advisors?

Megan May UI Designer at Chicyy

December 7th, 2015

I am currently cultivating an Education startup and am looking for great advisors to help me take off my idea. Considering my company will be catered to improving the experience for teachers & students in the classroom, is it necessary that I find an actual Teacher to be an Advisor? Where can I find teachers to become my advisor and how do I properly explain working for equity to them?

Gaurav Bhatt Software services | Lean Startup Incubation | Speaker

December 7th, 2015

Hi Megan,

I'm an advisor to some Ed tech startups and also a Co-Founder for ProjectPals.com. My Founder is a Teacher who brings her knowledge and expertise about K12, which is key to reaching out to prospective clients (also in your case Teachers). Together, we have attended several conferences like SXSWEdu, COSN.org, CUE that is full of teachers and school reps and we've succeeded in signing up some pilots in different schools too. I have also conducted workshops discussing different Business models in education and Customer Empathy through some Ed tech meetups that I'm a part of like Educelerate. I've found such meetups to be great to connect with teachers who are Entrepreneurial and would be open to working for equity too.
Good luck and feel free to reach out anytime. I'm always happy to connect with fellow UCLA grads!

Jamie Orr Doctoral Physicist, Entrepreneur, Biophysics, Energy & Sustainability Researcher, Instructor

December 7th, 2015

Hi Megan, I think it is *very* important that you have teachers as advisors. They know what's going on in the education world, are trained heavily in pedagogy, know the regulations, the goals of education at each level, etc. It would be unwise not to ask teachers for their expertise if that is your client and I think it is a mistake that too many EdTech companies make. You might try starting with faculty in a university education program. If they aren't the right fit to serve as an advisor, they can point you in the right direction at least. Always use experts in the field! Good luck!

Rob G

December 7th, 2015

Megan; I've not done edtech specifically, but it is always critical to understand the needs of your prospective customers/users. Not sure who will be making purchase decisions in your case, but regardless teachers will have an impact on the success or failure of any tech used in their classrooms. Purchase decisions in an 'enterprise' are rarely made by just oner person at the user level.  In EdTech i would assume that purchase decisions are likely to be made at the school district level and possibly state level - you should cultivate relationships with everyone with input to the purchase decisions from teachers to principals to school district executives to school board members to teacher's unions to PTA members to IT staff if your product will require IT admin support. I would definitely not limit myself to just on 1 teacher advisor. teachers are humans and 1 teacher will give you 1 perspective. If teacher support is a critical success factor then i'd look at putting together a small teacher advisory group - maybe 4-6 members - hard to say without knowing what you are building, how you plan to sell it, who will use it, etc. This group could be separate from your formal advisory board. Depending on what you expect from your teacher advisors you may not need to compensate them with equity. If you have one high-profile teaching advisor on your formal advisory board with a formal agreement and performance commitments then you should offer equity compensation - there are lots of threads here on FD about how much equity, vesting, performance metrics, agreements, etc. You might find teachers in the STEM fields most curious and thus open to helping. As to where to find them - go to where they congregate - schools. If you are a parent this is quite easy. If not, find a school (STEM?) and join the PTA. PTA's are good source for recommendations, connections, feedback. PTAs have a pretty strong voice with individual schools as well as school districts and each state has a state-level PTA/PTO organization plus there is a national PTA org.

Neil HereWeAre Want To find-close Business Online without competition Before They Google Search? We solve this problem 1(508)-481-8567

December 7th, 2015

Remember, people do things for their reason's not yours.( copywrite-neil Licht).  

Do you have a clear researched picture of your different audiences and what they care about? Do you know how to appeal to each based on their reasons not yours so they willingly join in and buy?

How do you know you have a market and more so  large enough market to make this venture worth doing? How do you know who and how many will willingly part with cash for your services and advice?

Start there first. 

That's how you will know what kind and type of advisors you will need and the type of valuable audience appeal credibility they can bring with them into what you offer.

I'd suggest getting detailed here in this discussion on what you are planning so us "advisors" are not guessing what you are doing. We need that insight to offer you solid help and guidance.

It's OK to call me to talk a bit in fact I'd enjoy discussing your venture and how to get it focused and widely used.. I'm in Eastern standard time.

Dawn Umlah Entrepreneur in Residence

December 7th, 2015

I came across this great resource and I suspect it can help you too!