EdNET-working the Crowd

About 500 education industry professionals—suppliers, administrators, and practitioners, plus Ambient Insight—came to Denver at the end of September for the 25th annual EdNET conference.

Nelson Heller, creator of EdNET conference

Nelson Heller, creator of EdNET

That in itself was a cause for celebration, as the networking conference that Nelson Heller (2009 inductee into the Association of American Publishers’ Hall of Fame and currently president of The HellerResults Group) started in 1988 is still going strong.

Conversations and presentations ranged from new ways to use data to traditional and new approaches to funding. One theme that came up at EdNET this year was one that Ambient Insight has seen across the planet and that was the need for suppliers to think about teaching the teachers how to implement and incorporate a new learning technology product. “Teachers are busy… (A product) needs to be a simple as an ATM machine” because teachers don’t have the time to figure out how to implement or incorporate a learning product, according to Harold Levy’s point of view as an investment firm executive.

EdNET 2013 "Staying Nimble in an Evolving Market"

Harold Levy, former New York City Schools Chancellor and now Managing Director at Palm Ventures, and Clement Erbmann, Managing Director of First Analysis and formerly with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, participated in the Private Equity panel chaired by Ambient Insight’s chief research officer Sam S. Adkins.

Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight's chief research officer

Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight’s chief research officer

Sam reported to conference attendees that as of mid-September, investment totals for learning technology products and services for 2013 stood at $950 million—with $57 million just in the two weeks preceding the conference.

  • Download the whitepaper “The 2012 Global Boom in Learning Technology Investments” and Sam’s slides  on investment patterns, including 2013 investments, from the Ambient Insight Resource Library: www.ambientinsight.com/News/PublishedContent.aspx.

Ambient Insight

The panelists offered insights into the dynamics of the ed tech investment world, including their firms’ different approaches, and provided valuable guidance on “what works” (and what doesn’t). Mr. Erbman reported that his firm takes a minority position and looks for established firms with positive cash flow and high growth rates. Mr.Levy’s firm targets “distressed education businesses” and innovative startups, and often takes a “slight majority” position. He also spoke emphatically that his firm was not interested in companies that offered “technology without pedagogy.”

Both panelists agreed with the impact of the new worldwide trend to alternative funding that Ambient Insight has been tracking for several years: the growth of new incubators and accelerators, and of crowdfunding. Mr. Erbman noted that crowdfunding is emerging as a viable funding alternative for startups.

For example, in 2012, Mango Health was one of 14 startups included in Rock Health’s 4th annual accelerator class. Mango Health did well in school: in 2013 they launched their medical adherence edugame with $3.1 million in funding.

The JOBS Act directed the Securities and Exchange Commission to remove the 1933 ban on advertising publically for investors will figuratively jump-start (pun avoided) more crowd funding and level the geographic playing field. According to crowdsourcing.org, crowdfunding platforms raised a total of $2.7 billion in 2012, an 81% increase over 2011.

Ironically, the new rules on crowdfunding became official on September 23—the last day of the EdNET conference –a place for an exceptionally networked crowd.

 
 
Ambient Insight
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One Response to EdNET-working the Crowd

  1. Updated this post to add a link to a video recording of the Private Equity panel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxkj1YBr99s

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