Education technology, or Edtech, focuses on improving learning outcomes for students and enhancing quality teaching. Edtech solutions use connected devices, rich media content, artificial intelligence, gamification and even robots to help teachers create innovative learning environments and personalized experiences that let students learn at their own pace or in their own style and that aren’t constrained by a physical classroom.
The potential for edtech to transform education on a global scale makes it an attractive new space for investors and entrepreneurs alike. Once a niche sector, Edtech venture investment is now 40 times larger than it was in 2010, and has produced 33 unicorns. In 2021, US Edtech companies raised $8.2 billion – nearly four times more than in 2020. Globally, the market is estimated at $254 billion. By 2027, that figure is expected to reach $605.4 B – an absolute growth rate of more than 130%.
92% of teachers believe edtech will have a major impact on the way they educate their students in the near future. [Source]
Big opportunity, but a bigger sales challenge
Selling an edtech solution is not like scaling a viral app. To navigate new markets, companies need to master complex procurement criteria, win over countless layers of decision-makers and clear numerous purchasing hurdles, all while ensuring that their solutions are appropriate for the students they’re looking to serve.
A successful Canadian innovator ready to grow
Canadian edtech company Off2Class faced these exact challenges when looking to scale its innovative solution for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers. Off2Class offers a complete toolkit of curriculum, assessment and lesson plans for teachers working with English Language Learners (ELLs). Starting as a bootstrapped company in 2015, Off2Class has since established a presence in more than 100 US K-12 school districts and with teachers in more than 100 countries.
While Off2Class is profitable, it has bigger ambitions. Over the next three years, the market for solutions serving English Language Learners (ELLs) is estimated to be worth $3.2b – and founders Serdar Cevher, Kris Jagasia and James Heywood want Off2Class to be the dominant player. To get there, they needed a partner to help them understand their target market, clarify their value proposition and navigate complexity.
Partnering to gain new skills and exposure
Off2Class turned to StartED, an edtech-focused accelerator that offers access to expert advice, funding and networks to technology startups. The partnership emerged through the Bi-Coastal Education Technology Accelerator, a joint program of the Consulates General of Canada in New York and Los Angeles whose goal is to help Canadian technologies succeed in global markets.
“StartEd is dedicated to attracting and developing education innovators who use technology to solve the most pressing educational problems for learners and educations,” says Ash Kaluarachchi, CEO of StartEd. Partnering with the Consulate General of Canada allows us to work with brilliant companies like Off2Class to help them accelerate their journey by expediting fundraising, enabling key hires, and navigating their expansion within the US. Our partnership ensures that Canadian innovators can access the support they need to take their solutions and companies to the next level.”
The Off2Class partnership with StartEd is merely one of many within the Accelerator program. Over the past two years, 15 such cohort companies from across Canada have partnered with StartEd, with more than half of them being female-led and/or female-owned.
“We’re incredibly proud of the innovative solutions being developed by Canadian entrepreneurs,” says Khawar Nasim, Consul General of Canada in New York. “They show a sensitivity to market and the vision for how technology can be transformative. I am really proud of our edtech programs at the Consulates General. They provide the skills, access and expertise that founders need to achieve their bold visions.”
Putting plans into action
Now alumni of the Accelerator, Off2Class founders are better-equipped to build a solid plan for growth at scale. March, 2022, saw the company host its first-ever ESLCareerWeek, which offered US K-12 districts struggling with talent shortages the chance to connect with more than 1,000 teachers from across the Off2Class network.
Off2Class’ founders expect this event to help it add new clients in US K-12 schools. In addition the company will continue to grow its direct-to-teacher customer base and roll out new product features – all while preparing for its round of Series A fundraising.
“Participating in the Accelerator was a fantastic opportunity for Off2Class,” says Kris Jagasia, CEO of Off2Class. “We were able to sharpen our go-to-market strategy for the K-12 market in the US, which will take us to our next stage of growth. And as a huge additional bonus, we also hired one of our advisors, Nathan Martin, as our head of Marketing.”
Learn more about Canadian Technology Accelerators.