After talking to hundreds or thousands of edtech entrepreneurs, what are some patterns you notice? Either about human beings, about entrepreneurs, or about, signs for success?
Graham Forman of Edovate Capital: So many people that come to education entrepreneurship come from having spent time either with technology or in the classroom as an educator or, or an administrator.
And they have a passion for the work, and they also have some deep insight into a problem that they’re trying to solve. And they’re beginning that journey or they’re well down that journey of building something to support a student, support, a teacher or support an administrator.
In terms of patterns, the things that we talk about that are often the most challenging are around financing. So they have an idea or they have an initial product and they want to scale it. They want to identify funds to be able to get to the next level.
Another big pattern is how do I get this out to people?
They say, now that I’ve built it, and I have some initial users, maybe even some initial schools on board, how do I go from that small first cohort of users to a much bigger, more scaled, set of users? And that’s a big challenge. Raising money is a big challenge. scaling, distribution is a big challenge.
But the great ones are able to accomplish both.
EdTech Entrepreneurs have an idea, or they have taken the first step, and they look to you for the next step, basically, or some sort of advice or guidance or resources.
Graham Forman: That’s right. There’s a certain stage at which I invest, and many entrepreneurs are too early for that. But it’s valuable to get to know each other, and this I think goes for any entrepreneurs who might be interested in engaging investors. There’s a real value from the investor side of being able to develop a relationship with that entrepreneur.
I like to see are they telling me what they’re going to do? And then when they follow up, are they actually doing that? Did they actually meet the milestones to face that for themselves? Am I able to add value as an advisor to what they’re doing? And I think for any entrepreneur, if you’re reaching out to folks and want to engage folks, asking for advice is a marvelous way to do it.
There’s an old adage: if you ask for advice, you might get an investment. And ask for investment, and you’ll probably get advice. So you might as well start by asking me advice and developing an authentic relationship.