We know that the coronavirus has brought unprecedented attention to the edtech market, but now what? What happens when schools are no longer clambering toward an overnight solution? When the surges slow? When our world reopens and there doesn’t need to be a full-suite of at-home solutions for kids and parents?
As the next wave of edtech companies are being built to address these novel use cases, investors are looking for solutions that aren’t simply pandemic-era important. To some, that means skipping the latest videoconferencing platform play and maybe cutting a check to a digital-only university. To others, it means looking for the platform that will educate a diverse range of users, especially the unemployed.
A spree of recent consolidation within the market shows that there is a need for a better plumbing system in the fragmented world of edtech.
We turned to eight investors in the space to understand which subcategories are shaping up to be the future, following up on our first survey last fall when the world was very different, and another in early April when less was understood about the pandemic. Our goal here was to find nonobvious ways innovation is living within the noisier-than-ever sector. The result? Intel on nascent trends, deal-makers and what adaption looks like amid a time of uncertainty.
Today you’ll get a deep dive on the nerdy stuff from the following investors:
- Reach Capital’s Jennifer Carolan, Shauntel Garvey and Chian Gong
- Ian Chiu, Owl Ventures
- Jan Lynn-Matern, Emerge Education
- David Eichler, TCV
- Rebecca Kaden, Union Square Ventures
- Jomayra Herrera, Cowboy Ventures
Investors differed on which subcategories benefitted the most, but it’s clear that the pandemic didn’t lift up the entirety of the edtech space. One investor noted that the pandemic made them even less interested in ISAs, while other venture capitalists noted how valuable the financing instrument is now, more than ever before.
We got into some of the big themes that have risen in the past few months: online learning, reskilling, ISAs, virtual universities and where each investor draws their line around these categories.
A common theme throughout the commentary now is that the opportunity presented by coronavirus is not being met with complacency, but instead a push to grow better. Investors talked about innovation needs to account for childcare, cost, digital infrastructure, and the addressable population, pandemic or not.
I think that’s enough teasing. Now, onto the answers.