With a focus on B2C strategy, this is the second part of a two-part series on how to go about selling your Ed-tech product to schools (the first part focused on B2B is here)
The second group of customers comprise of students, parents and teachers. For convenience sake, I will use parents for both students and parents.
The Consumer group would consume products such as assessments, learning products - mobile, paper or digital, supplemental education products - such as JEE coaching, language improvement, education games etc.
Let us broadly understand the decision makers here - from K through 8, the parent is the decision maker when it comes to choosing a product, however, from K-9 onward the student starts to have an influence over the decisions parents make. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind these factors when devising the strategy for selling your product. Also important to keep in mind is teachers are the most important influencers in the education ecosystem and parents depend on teachers for advice and mentoring their kids.
So, how would you go about selling your product to schools if your product falls in the consumer group category?
1. B2C the best way for entry to B2B2C
Before you go about selling your product directly to school (B2B), it is important that you have good traction in B2C sales in the region you are targeting schools.
I know it is counter intuitive for a company that wants to sell B2B to do B2C sales upfront, however, selling to parents directly helps you in couple of ways - you understand if the product is really delivering value to the parent and secondly, if parents will pay and how much will they pay.
As mentioned earlier in part-1 – to sell to parents via the parent committee or get approval for hike in fees, it is important that parents and student have knowledge of your product and are possible user of your products. Passing the value and price test helps you to quickly get adopted in schools.
An example for argument sake, Byju claims “to have seen an average time of 40 minutes being spent by a student on the app every day, from over 1,700 cities and towns, with annual renewal rates as high as 90 percent.” If this were true and if Byju decides to roll out a B2B learning video product for school on the lines of smartclass by Educomp, that would have amazing adoption as parents are already users in some way and have also displayed the propensity to pay.
So before you think B2B, think B2C! See if you can start with a bottoms-up sales strategy, and then evolve to the more expensive, top-down strategy later?
2. Teachers first philosophy.
A lot of ed-tech companies completely discount the power of teachers and pay the cost in the long term. It is important that start-ups see the value in teachers as they have great network effects and no start-up can build a valuable B2B education company bypassing them. Teachers are also traditionally overworked and underpaid and most importantly not appreciated for the work they put in.
If you look at traditional publishing players, they use teachers as an important tool to sell their books within schools.
In the US, Remind (previously called Remind 101) focused on solving the teacher-student-parent communication problem, however, they worked closely with teachers to iterate their product and made the teachers remind ambassadors. Today, Remind is used in more than 70% of U.S. public schools.
So, start-ups should figure out various ways of engaging with teachers - be it monetarily or emotionally or by solving their pain points mentioned above.
I would urge ed-tech founders to think differently and always think long term when they plan to get into the edtech game. You cannot just wait and hope to graduate from offering a free product to actually monetizing it, you have to think and experiment differently.
“Most startups in the edtech space suffer from a brick-and-mortar hangover and geographical limitations; most are unknown outside their base city. The biggest challenge is marketing,” says T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education Services.
So startups need to understand that there are others fighting for the same piece of pie which makes it all the more important for them to learn how to position their products for maximum brand recognition and sales. You need to interact with end customers and learn how the customers see you.
As Umang Gupta says it, "Positioning your education tech offering is critical to your success. It will dictate who will buy your product, what you can charge for it and how you can best sell it."
What's your take on edtech startup's sales (B2B or B2C) strategy?
Disclaimer : It is strictly an independent opinion of the writer, not representative of Kstart or Kalaari.” in the article.
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Abhishek works at Kstart -Seed initiative of Kalaari Capital. Abhishek has been an entrepreneur and has worked in various product and sales roles at Educomp. He is an Ed-tech enthusiast and is presently developing his own investment thesis on gaming & consumer internet companies. Forever open to coffee meets. Follow him on Twitter @abhishek20