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Key takeaways - "How To Scale An EdTech Startup In The U.S.?"

Updated: Dec 12, 2019


We spend a lot of time talking to European edtech startup founders, many of whom view the United States as their primary expansion market and are curious about how to make the transition.

To help, Brighteye organized a panel recently hosted at Liberté Living Lab in Paris featuring Nearpod founder Felipe Sommer, Kahoot! founder Jamie Brooker and GSV partner Luben Pampoulov (thanks again guys!) Collectively they have created and/or backed some of the most successful edtech companies in the US and we were pleased to see that the venue was packed and full of enthusiasm.

We highlight specific insights and have embedded Felipe & Jaime's presentations below. Our own takeaways were:

1) Plan on spending time in the US market, to understand the market you need to be in it, at least at first. Interestingly, having completed an accelerator in the US after being founded, Kahoot! is now mainly based in Norway and has managed to grow it's user base successfully from there.

2) Broadband and device penetration in classrooms are key to growth of edtech Nearpod went from having to bring devices to classrooms to having teachers market their product to each other when broadband availability grew from 25% to 90% from 2013 to 2017.

3) Distribution can start bottom-up, but eventually needs to include enterprise sales Both Kahoot! and Nearpod started with teacher driven distribution and leveraged that to drive sales in schools and districts (for Nearpod) and in corporates (for Kahoot!)

4) Keep an eye on the exits, big buyers are out there, as highlighted by Luben, who invested in edtech pioneer General Assembly which recently sold for $400M+ (4X TTM revenues) to Swiss HR firm Adecco Group

Felipe Sommer - Co-founder of Nearpod

What is Nearpod: Nearpod is a mobile presentation tool that teachers use to create, find and share interactive lessons with students and each other. It is being used in over 15% of K-12 schools in the US. Based in Miami, Nearpod has raised $35M to date from US based funds including Insight Venture Partners and Reach Capital.

Key takeaways from Felipe:

1. Find the right distribution strategy for your product (e.g. bottoms-up, teacher-first product) and position your company as a partner with your users

2. Make your product easily integrated with other players in the ecosystem

3. Put the educators/users at the center of your product

Jamie Brooker - Co-founder of Kahoot!

What is Kahoot!: Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform designed to help teachers create and play customisable learning games. It is being used in over 50% of schools in the US and by 1M corporate users. Based in Oslo, Norway, Kahoot! has raised over $43M from funds including Creandum, Northzone and Microsoft Ventures.

Key takeaways from Jamie:

1. Start with an international mindset from the very first day

2. Understand the U.S. market very well by spending time with your users, attending U.S. EdTech events, and collaborating with local though leaders and evangelists

3. Co-create and scale your product through teachers/users