The competition for learning management platforms is BIG!
Knowing the exact pain points and use case, and testing it out with institutions is not what all startups achieve with a small team and minimal budget, but you do have passionate edtech entrepreneurs making efforts to achieve this.
With the aim to keep and eye on the progress any edtech startup is making, we got to know about recent funding by Byndr and got hold of Co-Founder and CEO, Byndr, Joseph Freed to answer few questions regarding his company and its expansion plans for the EdTechReview Community.
1. What would be an elevator pitch for someone who does not know about your product?
Byndr is a mobile-first learning management platform that helps colleges collaborate with their students, administer their coursework, and connect their students to the educational resources they need to succeed.
2. What is your company's core value proposition? What problem are you solving and for whom?
Our global mission is to help colleges provide students the ultimate accessibility in educational resources right from their smartphones, and thus, help them to take the next step in life with graduate school or employment. The problem we see is many students in mobile-dependent markets, like India, do not have access to mobile-based educational content. We also see many students not even connected to their college on a learning platform. With projected 80% of internet users in India in 2017 being mobile (and many other markets are similar), the only way to provide this single point of educational access for higher education students is with a really great mobile product. That is the Byndr value proposition.
3. How do you plan to check on the user satisfaction?
We have a few different touch points with our users to understand their satisfaction. First, our app is live in Google Play here so we get many reviews from students and teachers about our app which gives us some insight.
We also have a college relations team that spends many hours at each college on our platform. We offer our colleges unlimited support. We will come out and help them use Byndr as often as they wish. We stay very close to our colleges to understand how they are using Byndr and what additional features they request.
4. What is the driving passion, why are you passionate about this product? What is your vision?
Our passion is really driven by our diverse team. We have co-founders that are tech startup enthusiasts, really passionate about great mobile tech. We have co-founders who were former teachers and really passionate about teaching. Together we all have the same vision, which is that really great mobile tech can unlock access to every student in the world to educational content. Just because a student doesn't have a laptop, or lives in part of the world with poor broadband connection, doesn't mean they need to be at a disadvantage.
5. What is the stage of the product? Where do you see your company in 12 or 18 months from now?
Our platform right now is live in 55 colleges in India. We are on pace to have over 100 colleges on our platform in India by end of the year. In 2017, we plan to expand throughout India and to other emerging edtech markets.
6. What is the biggest need for your startup?
Our biggest need as a startup is the resources to help us scale. We are on the look for ways to increase our market awareness, publicity and partnerships that can help us get our innovative product into as many colleges as possible.
7. What are your views about the growth of Education Technology industry in the US? Where is it heading?
Higher Education in particular will continue to grow in both the U.S. and India. It is a proven means to get ahead in life. However, the way the higher education will be consumed will be changing rapidly. The two big issues we see impeding this rapid change is credentialing and curation.
The cost of tuition to traditional higher education institutions continues to rise and thus, there are an abundance of new content providers attempting to supplement or replace the traditional degree. Such as MOOCs and companies like General Assembly. However, it still remains to be seen if these non-traditional paths will hold weight with employers. Will they provide the same means to get ahead? This is the credentialing problem, and we think there will be a new innovative way to credential that arises out of this need.
The second issue is curation. With the rise of OER and a magnitude of content online (some paid, some free), how does a student know what to take? There needs to be a way to curate content for the higher education student that allows them to streamline their content intake to what is relevant to them. We think there will be developments in this area, maybe with startups, that will focus on this issue.
8. Tell us about your team, who do you have supporting you? How did this start?
The founding team is a great family. We have 3 co-founders in the U.S. and 2 co-founders in India (Hyderabad). 2 of the co-founders are bother and sister, and the 3 co-founders in the U.S. spent the last 4 years building tech products together for a U.S based e-commerce startup. So we have all known or worked with each other for a long time. Byndr started as a side project between the founders to help a single college in India and turned into a platform that is now being used by over 50 colleges in its first year.
We have a diverse set of skills and experiences that provides a solid foundation for building a global tech product. We were also part of the Education Design Studio, which is the edtech accelerator at the University of Pennsylvania. Here is some recent funding news.
9. What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader or companies with innovation which you follow for success? Whether in the EdTech space or in general?
We are motivated by trying to build a platform that can be used by everybody in the world to access educational content. Some great platforms that we use at Byndr and/or admire are Slack, Facebook Lite, Spotify, Whatsapp.
10. Who would you call your competitors? And how are you different?
Our competitors would probably be the traditional LMS players that dominate the U.S. market. However, they don't have a large presence in India and other mobile-dependent markets. The reason is their platforms are desktop based, don't work well in markets with poor internet connectivity, and usually require resources to setup, host and maintain. Byndr was built to reduce all these friction points of why colleges in emerging edtech markets don't adopt a legacy or desktop based LMS or ERP system. Our lightweight, mobile-first platform can go where these legacy platforms can't.
11. What are the biggest challenges of your edtech startup?
Our biggest challenge for our startup at this stage is scaling up. Our platform is live and we have some good early product/market fit. To grow, learn, and make Byndr better, we now need to get our product into the hands of as many students as possible.
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