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Do you have any advice for a company that targets schools?
6 points by joshuakarl 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 4 comments
I plan to launch an educational website that will target college classrooms. It is an interactive platform where students can submit works, like Moodle, but for very specific areas of study. What is the best business model in this case? How do payments work? I guess it's not exactly like a B2B or B2C company. Any personal experience? Thank you

From an old patio11 post: https://training.kalzumeus.com/newsletters/archive/enterpris...

> As someone who sold to teachers for six years let me strongly suggest pounding your own hand with a hammer prior to selling to school districts. It is less painful and approximately as lucrative.

HN discussions:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6255431 (227 points | Aug 22, 2013 | 56 comments)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8800727 (295 points | Dec 26, 2014 | 62 comments)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14527620 (111 points | June 10, 2017 | 24 comments)

That's a perfect way to put it. Teachers, students, general school staff don't really have money. Admins don't and won't give you time to pitch.

I worked in an edtech product for years (as an employee) and met a lot of edtech salespeople. It was quite shocking to see how little money these sales people did. Which let me understand that if salespeople ain't making money, nobody else ain't either (in a general sense).

Oh and let me tell you about how labor intensive it was to deal with them. They all wanted pilots. Each pilot required their student population data to be loader. None of the data platforms followed a specific standard. I talked to Clever (YC) and Google classroom engineerscat different trade shows and they confirmed how difficult it was. Ended up doing my own system to import data into...

Anyway, save yourself the grief. Build it if you must, but be very pragmatic. It takes a lot if money and influence to break into this market and sometimes thats not even enough. I know because the founder of the company I used to work with was both very very very rich and very very very connected. Product is currently a zombie (though the company continues with it forward).

It's very hard to get paid by colleges. It's a kind of enterprise sales, with the usual problem that the decision makers have little contact with the end-users of the software. So having better software doesn't help you make sales. The industry gets dominated by companies that are great at sales and not very good at making software.

If your software is so jaw-droppingly awesome that professors will pay out of their own pocket, you can make some money that way. But not a huge amount of money.

You may be better off making the website free, and making money some other way. Charging employers to show job postings can make money, if the students are in high demand.

Answering 'what is the best business model in this case' is impossible without knowing:

- what problem you're aiming to solve

- who cares about having that problem solved (e.g. because they can make more money and/or save a lot of money)

If you haven't already, I suggest you go and talk to the people you expect to pay for your software. They will be able to tell you the answers to some of your existing questions.

You should also talk with the people who will use your software.

If you're unsure how to talk with customers and users, buy the excellent book 'Talking to Humans'.

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