Maria Ranier is a freelance writer and blogger whose particular writing focus is trends in higher education. Maria also enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, small business strategies, technology, and more. You can find more of Maria’s work at www.onlinedegrees.org. Maria welcomes your comments below!
The Rise of the Teacherpreneur
As soon as you read this title, you may be thinking, “What in the world is a teacherpreneur?” Rest assured; I did not coin this term. Teacherpreneurs have been, over the past year, so often featured in the media as to suggest that they’re a real, possibly enduring phenomenon. Teacherpreneurs, as the name suggests, are educators who’ve taken a swing at entrepreneurship, many having met with startling success. What makes these teachers such good entrepreneurs? As an edSurge article notes, teachers have the same qualities that successful entrepreneurs have, like passion, creativity, empathy, and persistence. Teachers often have a solid background in fundraising, and they have a strong desire to inspire real change in the world.
More than anything, however, teachers-cum-entrepreneurs have seized the moment by creating and driving innovations in a market that’s grown exponentially along with the Web 2.0—education technology. A Chronicle of Higher Education article entitled, “A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups,” investigates how this particular market growth has accelerated, noting:
“Investments in education-technology companies nationwide tripled in the last decade, shooting up to $429-million in 2011 from $146-million in 2002, according to the Na¬tional Venture Capital Association. The boom really took off in 2009, when venture capitalists pushed $150-million more into education-technology firms than they did in the previous year, even as the economy sank into recession.”
There are various reasons why education technology is now a hot commodity. Politics aside, education is a lot like healthcare in that the big goal that most would agree with, at least philosophically, is enabling access to as many people as possible around the globe. Education becomes that much more powerful the more people we have on board. Education technology is precisely what enables this type of global access. Now that the Internet is ubiquitous enough to spread access, education technology finally has a platform that can turn small ideas into hugely successful start-ups. Some examples noted in the Chronicle article include Udacity, Udemy, and UniversityNow.
Especially interesting is that crowdfunding seems to be a natural match for the ed-tech sector. A Big Think editorial explains how teacherpreneur ventures are particularly suited to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. For one, teacherpreneurs can receive funding much more quickly than traditional education innovation funding through grants, which can take years to go through. Another point is that teachers are very involved with state, national, and international communities on and offline. Successful crowdfunding requires those seeking funds to be able to galvanize a community, a skill that most teachers already have.
If you are considering founding a start-up in the education technology sector, welcome to something that’s going to affect us all in a very big way as technology accelerates. It’s time to open up education to the marketplace of innovation, to revolutionize arguably the most important investment in future generations.
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