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Episode 20

The Future of EdTech Procurement

Brief description of the episode

What makes edtech procurement so complex and how can we fix it? Siya Raj Purohit, Global head of EdTech and Workforce Learning at Amazon Web Services Marketplace, shares her insights and a simpler solution to addressing these.

Key Takeaways:

  • There’s so much cool tech coming up that is not making it into the hands of students.
  • For edtech startups, this is an issue because sales cycles to schools can take up to 18 months and that often exceeds the runway that startups have from a financial perspective.
  • This long process deters a lot of smart entrepreneurship building in the K-12 edtech space.
  • At a high level, the procurement process for K-12 has been put in place for the safety of students. The term “safety” has almost become a cover that’s preventing useful tech from reaching the right students.
  • Another is one-size-fits-all. It’s hard for educators to use different types of tools for different learning styles in the classroom when edtech products themselves aren’t diverse enough that they can cater to all learning styles.
  • Every state has different rules and how education solutions can be purchased so that’s a lot of ambiguity in the process. Different RFP processes for each state and district make it difficult to scale and requires a lot of manpower.
  • The product information that trickles down to parents, teachers, students is limited in terms of discovering new products or helping edtech products get through the screening process.
  • We need an independent buying platform for these that helps you navigate the different solutions that are available, identify and buy off-the-shelf in terms of the types of products that you need.
  • This works well for feature adoption – very interesting features that edtech companies make but never get adopted because they’re not bundled with other services.
  • At Amazon, we’re building this marketplace replete with custom private offers which are negotiated terms between the buyer and seller and that transaction can also happen through the platform.
  • Hopefully, this will increase the buying speed, enable easier governance, and even allow payment dispersion through the platform.
  • We need to aim to have less resources in the middle procurement process and make that much faster.
  • Add in reviews and outcomes that can be viewed and compared.
  • Collect review data from teachers and classrooms, bubble that up more easily to school districts, and use it to impact how ed tech companies build.
  • Lastly, help rewrite education policy to encourage information symmetry between the makers, buyers, and users of edtech products.

EdTech Info resources that Siya recommends:

  • Tony Wan, Reach Capital
  • Ryan Craig, Achieve Partners
  • Matthew Tower, Workshop Venture Partners
  • Schmidt Futures

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