Types of EdTech startups

At a Glance

Recently, HolonIQ released a report that showed $7.0 billion global education venture capital funding in 2019. This has provided a stunning rate of growth based on the fact that just $0.5 billion of EdTech VC funding in 2010. They are also predicting a tripling of investment in EdTech over the next decade.

Within our recent blog posts, we have shared with you our predictions for the future of EdTech, what VCs are looking for within an EdTech business and what to consider before investing in an EdTech start up.

Today, we are going to consider the eight different types of EdTech startups that exist across the globe.

Types of EdTech startups

The overall generic aims of EdTech businesses are to support the teachers and support staff working in schools through either adding to the learning experience, making the responsibilities easier or saving time. In some cases, EdTech solutions will meet all three of these aims!

However, there are different types of EdTech businesses who will have specific aims based on their solution and offering to schools and education establishments. Let’s explore these in more detail…

School Administration

Behind the hardworking teachers at every school, there is a team of support staff and administrators keeping the cogs turning and the school running smoothly. Behind these fantastic members of staff, there is a school administration platform that supports every task they complete, report they run and timetable they schedule.

There are some big players in this market that have been around for some time, but certainly space for new platforms with innovative features to further support the administration of the school. Schools are always looking for ways to improve efficiency, manage staff workload and improve communication with parents, students and external providers.


Learning Management System

An EdTech company providing a learning management system would meet the aims outlined above. In addition to this, they would also ease the workflow between teachers and students. A learning management system would include features such as homework/coursework setting, comments from teachers to students and a messaging platform for parents.

Making communication easier provides a streamlined process for both students and parents to engage with teaching staff, promoting positive conversation, allowing parents to ask questions and in return, teachers to engage with parents to discuss their young person’s progress.

In a post COVID-19 world, some learning management system platforms have also integrated the use of video conferencing to allow for the use of virtual classrooms without the need for the school to utilise a separate conferencing tool such as Microsoft TEAMs or Google Classroom.

Career Development Apps

Each school in the UK is required to have a dedicated Career Lead, this is a member of staff responsible for ensuring the careers programme within the school meets the guidelines set out by the UK government. These guidelines are called the Gatsby Benchmarks, there are 8 key benchmarks that schools must be able to evidence that they are meeting.

The benchmarks include factors like interacting with universities, hearing from employers and experiencing the workplace. This was a challenge for schools prior to COVID-19, the additional restrictions have only made it more difficult for Career Leads to ensure the students within their schools are receiving these inputs. This is where career development apps come in!

There are a range of career development apps that focus on different niches within career education, some provide virtual work experience opportunities, others offer interactive VR features while others focus on promoting student’s contact with higher education and degree apprenticeship providers.

Language Learning Platforms

These platforms can have a wider audience range to include modern foreign languages departments in schools, individual students and/or adult learners. US firm Duolingo states that its new user sign ups rose in 2020, particularly within the UK. Duolingo reports that they were up 67% globally compared with 2019, while in the UK they rose by 132%, almost double the worldwide average (source).

Learning a second language is hugely rewarding at any age but learning language platforms are particularly useful to those studying languages at GCSE and A Level. UK Education establishments usually offer a small range of 2-4 languages however, by partnering with a language platform, they are able to support a wider range of languages.

For example, if a school offers Spanish and French but has a Portuguese speaking student, they could provide them with access to the learning platform rather than needing to hire a teacher or tutor to support with this additional language. This allows the young person to take their native language as a GCSE or A Level option without the school needing to pay an additional salary to benefit a small number, or potentially just one, student.

Gamified Learning Apps

If there is one thing we know students love, it’s interactive, gamified learning apps. The virtual gaming platform Kahoot! reported their year-over-year growth in paid subscriptions was 220% in Q4 2020. The largest increase they have ever seen, with COVID-19 restrictions to thank for the increase in engagement from teaching staff finding new ways to make their online learning interactive.

Gamification is the use of game elements and principles in non-game contexts, such as learning. Students love collecting “points” for completing work, reaching new “levels” in their learning journeys and being rewarded for their “wins” – such as participation and achievement badges. The increased use of gamification techniques by learning app companies has been welcomed by schools to offer incentivised and “fun” ways for students to learn and to engage in learning when working from home.

Tech Learning Solution

Traditionally, learning solutions are used to shift the behavioural habits of a group of people. For example, an employer may have rolled out company training to improve employees’ product knowledge. Incorporating the use of technology within this process allows employers and schools alike to reach more people with their learning solution, better analyse the results of this training and take employee/student feedback to understand where they still have gaps within their knowledge.

Tech learning solutions are also known as “eLearning” and help schools to widen their curriculum offering. For example, in a Sixth Form setting, a tech learning platform could be used to provide aspiring medical students with access to first aid training to enhance their knowledge, experience and provides an example of dedication to the industry for their personal statement for medical schools. This solution allows the student to meet the required outcome of completing first aid without the school having to offer a physical first aid course or invest in teacher training for this.

MOOC Portals

“MOOC” states for massive open online courses and are available online, for free, for people of any age to access. The purpose of MOOCs is to enhance people’s knowledge by providing an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale. There are currently over 2,900 MOOCS available across a range of topics and subject areas.

MOOC portals are a way for young people to select the best training area for them. For example, the portal may ask them a series of questions which then generates a list of MOOC options that the young person may wish to consider enrolling for. MOOC portals do not reinvent the wheel of online training and instead, add to the extensive resource that is available, in the form of MOOCS.



Test Preparation Platform

Imagine being an exams officer working within a school, having to input 350 students for 10+ GCSE exams every year… Manually! This is why there was such a need for test preparation platforms. They are a few niches within this type of EdTech company. Firstly, there are online offerings for the type of challenge we have just described. These platforms automate the exam entry process to help schools to balance workload, minimise paperwork and leave little room for human error.

There are also test preparation platforms that work to ensure readiness for exams. They may provide pregenerated exam style questions for teachers to use in the classroom to assess student’s current knowledge and level. This may also include a communication feature that allows the teacher to give feedback to the student via the platform, suggesting where they can improve their revision to better answer the question next time.

K12 Education Apps

Let’s address the elephant in the room for those of us in the UK who do not know what we’re referring to here… “K12” is the term used to describe kindergarten to 12th grade America. In the UK, this would translate to primary and secondary education. Generally speaking, these applications involve interactive features such as videos and voice overs with the aim to aid education within the classroom.

With the wide range of age groups included, the platforms aim to aid consistency across year group resources, allowing a feeling of continuity for the young people moving through the education process at the school.