When Should You Stop Ignoring Small EdTech Startups? With Jared Stein

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Hello everyone! My name is Ladek and my guest for this episode is Jared Stein. In the first half of his career, Jared led the development of new, fully online programs at colleges and universities and helped faculty adopt new ways of teaching with technology to increase student access and success.

After more than a decade of heading up product strategy and research at Instructure (makers of Canvas), Jared started Rarebird, an EdTech consultancy that helps startups and institutions maximize their impact.

Jared is also the author of “Essentials for Blended Learning: A Standards-Based Guide.”

In this ‘start-up’ conversation Jared and I discuss

00:00 › Start

3:08 › Stop Ignoring The Problem—Jared kicks us off by diving right into discussing when you should stop ignoring edtech startups and why this is a problem – from both corporate and traditional education experiences

8:35 › Starting Up Processes—Jared discusses processes he uses at Rarebird to advise startups for bringing their tech into the larger ecosystem, and how different personalities within Edtech startups create different outcomes

16:50 › Aid And Counsel—Jared offers his counsel for mitigating and managing risk as an EdTech startup and any organization willing to work with with (admittedly) sometimes not-fully-baked services

26:00 › The Graceful Stop—Jared talks about how to gracefully stop or walk away from an experiment with a start up when it doesn’t work out

33:17 › Startup Boon—Finally, Jared discusses, where institutions might look for promising, legitimate and trustworthy startups solutions, especially in the generative AI space.


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a company leveraging open -source software to deliver effective, customized and engaging learning experiences for schools, universities, companies and government. governments around the world since 2005.

Learn more at OpenLMS .net. Hi there, my name’s Ladek, and my guest for this episode is Jared Stein. In the first half of his career, Jared led the development of new fully on -line programs at colleges and universities,

and helped faculty to adopt new ways of teaching with technology to increase student access and success. After more than a decade of heading up on -line programs, strategy and research at Instructure,

who are the makers of Canvas, Jared started Rarebird EdTech, which is a consultancy that helps startups and institutions maximize their impact. Jared is also the author of “Essentials for Blended Learning,

A Standards -Based Guide.” In this real startup conversation, Jared and I discuss, you know, how you should stop or why you should stop. ignoring EdTech startups and why this is a problem,

both from a corporate and traditional education experience. Jared then discusses the processes he uses at Rarebird to advise startups for bringing their tech into a larger ecosystem and how different personalities within EdTech startups create different outcomes.

Jared then offers his counsel for mitigating and managing risk as an EdTech startup. and an organization that is considering working with these organizations that are sometimes half -baked. Jared then talks about how to gracefully stop or walk away from an experiment with a startup when it doesn’t work out or when the outcomes aren’t happening the way that you need them to be.

Finally, Jared discusses where institutions might look for promising and legitimate trustworthy startup solutions. Especially, especially in the generative AI space. And remember,

we record this podcast live so that we can interact with you, our listeners, in real time. So if you’d like to join the fun every week on LinkedIn, on Facebook, or on YouTube, come over to elearnmagazine .com and subscribe.

Now, I give you Jared Stein. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Elearn podcast. As you heard, my name is Latic, but of course, the show is not about me, as I like to say. It’s about my guest here. Mr.

Jared Stein, how are you, sir? – Hey, I’m doing really well. How are you? – I’m fine. It’s fantastic. You know, we have had the fortune of talking before, of interacting this way before,

but it was like, I was just looking. It’s like, it started like three or four years ago that we did this. So how are you? – Yeah, the pandemic had just hit. And there were lots of things to talk about in the world of AdTech.

– Well, there’s good news. There’s lots more to talk about. about here. For anybody who doesn’t know who you are or where you’re at, like, where in the world are you sitting today? – Yeah, I’m in Utah.

I’m near Salt Lake City, just on the outskirts, the point of the mountain as we call it. – The point of the mountain, you know, as a Coloradoan, I feel like I should know what that is, but there you go. – It just means the transition between Salt Lake Valley and Utah Valley,

where all of the tech startups are. – Okay, fantastic. Well, speaking of which, why don’t you give us the 60 seconds on who you are? You’ve transitioned into a new life since the last time I spoke with you,

but so why don’t you set the stage for us about who you are? – Yeah, that’s right. So about half of my career was spent in higher education, leading teams that developed and launched fully online courses and programs, blended teaching and learning,

all of that good stuff. And then I joined this little tiny, startup called Instructure shortly after they closed their Series B. They’re best known for Canvas. And I was with Instructure for 11 years,

doing a number of different things and a number of different roles, but primarily in product strategy and corporate strategy toward the end. I left Instructure in January of this year and now I run my own consulting business called Rarebird.

And it’s really focused on early stage ed tech companies, news, although I don’t know what I’m talking about. do some work with universities as well. Fantastic. Congratulations on the transition. Exciting. I feel like the name of the company,

the name of your firm right now reflects the conversation we’re about to have around when a person or a head of an L and D department,

it could be a head of a tech department, whatever, when should you stop ignoring ed tech startups? startups? And what I’d like to do is I’d like to help everyone understand why this is a problem.

Even though most people experience this problem every day, even I’m thinking from the individual consumer of a professor or a teacher or a learning professional to someone who’s making bigger purchases or investment decisions.

Talk to me about that. Why is this a problem? – Yeah, and I think it’s important, maybe we can toggle back and forth between the perspective of the ed tech and of the potential consumer or the buyer.

But I think from the consumer buyer or even user perspective, oftentimes, they have problems and challenges day to day and they would like to have solutions for them,

sometimes tech enabled solutions for them. And so, it’s in their best interest and many of them often are sort of aware of and kind of always scanning the horizon for the next big thing,

what might be new out there that can help them do their jobs better and serve their people better. But having said that, right, there are a lot of companies out there selling solutions and vending products.

And it’s one, just hard to give attention to those in general. And two, when the are really small companies, companies that may have less credibility, may have less maturity,

it may not seem like it’s a good use of your time or your resources to even let them in the door, let alone think about their product in a meaningful way. And yet,

as we think about all of the problems and challenges we face in the world and in our jobs day to day, we are not going to be able to do that. would agree, yeah, we need more solutions, we need more innovation. The tools that we have might be okay,

but they could be a lot better. And so engaging with those founders and innovators who are really trying to solve problems in novel ways could be in our best interest,

not only because we might at some point have the chance to use their products and benefit from them, but also because especially with early -stage companies. there’s a lot of give and take between the founders and the heads of product and their earliest customers or even just the earliest folks that they engage with because they’re learning every single day about what’s important,

what the problems are, and how to best solve them. This brings me to a place in my mind where it’s a place I love to talk about. You said,

you know, you still interact with them. with a lot of universities, and that was your client base for a long time. You know, in most people’s minds, that’s a structure that does not move easily,

right? It does not adapt, it does not, you know, it’s not agile, it’s not flexible. And yet we’re talking about a space where flexibility and agility not only are necessary, but as you just described,

right? A founder or a head of product literally is making minor adjustments. maybe on a daily or weekly basis to a product offering or a service offering. What’s that look like from the university side in your experiences?

You’ve been advising both of these groups about bringing some of this into their portfolio. As you said, as we said, the stage here, when should you stop ignoring some of these and say,

“Hey, wait, this is actually something we might want to invest more time in or take a chance on?” on.” Yeah. Well, I think the good news, especially for ed tech out there, is that there are universities,

colleges, K -12 schools, and districts that are keen to try out new ideas and new solutions. And even if it may not be an entire department,

you’re often going to find one or two people within the departments or unit who is a tinker, right? And I remember this from my day as well. the university. I myself was that tinkerer and certainly people on my team,

some of them, you know, they were content to use the tools that they had, but some of them were always looking for, you know, the hot new thing on the horizon. So I think the good news for edTex is that through higher ed,

through K -12 as a whole, you can find those people who are interested to engage with you, who may even be willing to tinkerer. with the product, even if it’s just an MVP,

because one, they love technology, they love innovation, they love to see what’s happening. But two, I think they also find value in the conversations that they can have with ed tech founders.

It’s a chance for educators and technologists to have their voices heard and to have some level of influence on. the product roadmap. But it’s also one of those things where,

I think a lot of us in education recognize that it doesn’t always work the way we want it to work. There’s a lot of entrenched practices that maybe aren’t the most beneficial for our students or even ourselves.

And so we wanna see change. And maybe one of the ways that we can help that change come to pass is by influencing solutions that, might come into the hands of our users. Hi,

there. I’m sorry to break into the show right now. But if you’re enjoying this show, if you are challenged, if you’re inspired, if you’re learning something, if you think that you’re going to be able to get something out of this to put into your practice, do me a quick favor.

Pause right now and just hit subscribe on your podcast player right now. It doesn’t matter which one. Just hit subscribe because that way it’ll make sure that you never miss an episode in the future. Thanks. Now, back to the show.

Hmm. How have you seen it work successfully, you know, across your 11 years in structure, or, you know, now, I, I, wow, it’s almost a year since you started your consulting company, looking at the calendar real quick,

uh, you know, is that a process of we have an innovation unit and, you know, here’s kind of our sandbox where we test stuff and, you know, as we see something working, we start to bring it into the larger ecosystem.

Is there sometimes a, you know, or, or. is it more typical to have a maverick, they say, you know, in a larger system that is doing things either on their own dime or stuff like that.

And then eventually it cracks or maybe, maybe it comes from learners and it bubbles up from learners, all of the above or all of the above, man. I mean, there certainly are institutions that have small teams or,

or they have teams for whom part of their responsibility, right? Is. to continuously engage with or at least monitor what’s happening in technology and report that into the larger org or the larger unit.

But I think in most cases, it’s going to be one or two people on a team or within a unit who just happen to be those folks who love to test things out. And they might even be proactively going out there to test things out.

But, you know, there’s a lot of examples from my own experience, both inside, outside, and, you know, through instruction, where institutions or teams within institutions or schools,

we’re willing to engage, we’re willing to discuss. And I think for them, also, it’s a process of discovery around the challenges and the problems that they have.

But discuss what a potential solution might look like and even participate in some of the earliest stages. In fact, I’ll just say in my own past,

the reason that I joined Instructure in the early days was because I was one of its earliest adopters. I was running the Instructional Innovation Center at Utah Valley University when when the two co -founders of Instructure,

Brian and Devlin, knocked on our door and brought some ideas. And they had interacted with some people within Utah and around the US who I knew and was,

I had a lot of respect for. So that helped them get in the door with me. And when they started talking to some of the challenges that I had seen with the LMS,

with online education in general, but also exposing some of the areas that they had less knowledge or perhaps were ignorant of. That dialogue not only was it enjoyable,

I think it became fruitful. Now, I’ll admit that during the nine to 12 months that they would come by and visit maybe once every two or three months,

I was extremely skeptical one that they would get this product off the ground, but two, that they would have a chance to compete with the likes of a Blackboard. So, you know, this conversation is interesting to me because I was that person who both loved to tinker,

but was also skeptical, maybe even cynical, about an early stage company’s ability to bring a product to market that would not only compete with the incumbents,

but also just be mature enough that we would want to choose it. to use it. And yet, it worked out for Instructure over the long term. I’ll make the long story short.

We had a good chance to influence the roadmap at that time. It was a chance for us to try this new technology firsthand. I think that helped them develop some traction and momentum in the state and that led eventually,

over time, to a statewide deal for them. – Dive a little deeper into that influence piece, right? Because I think that would, for me, that would be the most attractive thing.

If I was sitting, as you said, in the innovation department or whoever I am, I would want to flex the muscle of the institution I was at or the company I was at to say,

“Look, we want to participate. “We’d love to be a part of a beta or whatever, “but we also want to be able to sit down with you “one day.” a month or a quarter and say, here are the things we need you to change or to do differently.

How successful is that, you know, ’cause then you also have the sort of the classic, you know, we’ve seen it in the movies and whatever the classic founders like, no, I know what I’m doing, you know, the Steve Jobs, you know, sort of like, I know the vision,

you don’t, you know, kind of thing. Talk to me about those two personalities meeting. – Yeah, well, let me start from the at the end. tech founders perspective or the head of products perspective,

right? They’re probably building a product that is a SaaS products offer as a service. And they probably building it as a cloud product, meaning that they want one version of the product for everyone.

Now, it doesn’t mean it can’t be somewhat customizable, but in order for them to be able to scale the product that they want to build whatever it might be. be, they’re going to have to be really focused and diligent about building one product for as many customers that have this problem as possible,

right? So they don’t want to build one -off solutions. They don’t want to build highly customized solutions. They want to make sure that whatever they do build is beneficial to a whole variety of schools or districts or institutions.

And really that’s in the best interest, I think, of their future customers as well of the institutions and the schools themselves, right? Because one,

that’s going to make sure that the ed tech company is more sustainable, that it can grow and continue to innovate. But two, they have the benefit of learning from. the experience,

the wisdom, and even the needs of institutions that may not be like them, may be like them, but may also not be like them. So from the EdTech company’s perspective, they want to build a single version of a product that’s not highly customized to a single institution.

And yet they know that as they’re going out to discover what the problem is and validate their product idea, they have a lot to learn. And they want to learn,

they do deeply want to learn, or they should deeply want to learn from the institutions that best represent the customer or the users that they’re hoping to serve. So they need to walk in with both a little bit of that diligence about their vision and about the needs of their product and their company,

but also that open openness to influence the learning and This is why it’s called discovery Now from the institutional perspective again as you say there there are some really valid reasons why the institution would want to Engage with somebody who’s building an awesome at tech product,

right so that they can influence it so that it better meets their needs I think what I would say to those folks is one recognized recognize that an EdTech is only ever going to be sustainable and successful if they can scale,

if their product can be useful to a wide variety of institutions or schools or districts or whatever. Otherwise, you might as well just hire a software development firm to build something for you.

Do some bespoke software development to solve your problem. problem. But I think most folks that I know in edtech or in academic technology, they understand that.

They understand that if they actually want to have a meaningful relationship with an early stage at tech company, that means that eventually the tech company is going to launch a product for more than just them.

They chance to influence it and share ideas. But they should also look at this as– a relationship and a relationship is always a two -way street. I like that.

I like that a lot. As a part of that relationship, I know that one of the key considerations is going to be mitigating and managing and looking around risk,

right? There’s going to be a time risk, a money investment risk. I’m also thinking about sort of around, hey, what if we plug this thing in and suddenly we have a data breach risk,

those types of things. What’s your counsel for both of those parties again around how to take that step by step to make sure that the risk is both manageable,

but there’s still an appetite for doing something different. Yeah. Yeah, so for consumers or purchasers of ed tech, one,

you need to consult with your IT departments. You need to understand what the rules and policies are within your institution for adopting technology. But I would say in general, understand what the technology that you might be trying does and doesn’t do.

Make sure that there are very clear, you know, legally contractual agreements in place. terms of service, and user license agreements, so that you understand what might be happening with data.

You might understand, right, like what happens if something goes wrong. And you also, I think, need to understand what your non -negotiables are,

as I call them. So on the one hand, you can’t really expect an early stage at the end. company with a minimum viable product to check all the boxes that you need them to check in terms of security,

privacy, accessibility, data access, whatever it might be, right? You’re going to have to, if you want to work with them at this early stage, you’re going to have to accept that they’re not going to come in short order as they develop some momentum.

And yeah, at the same time, there may be some of those non -negotiables in the product that are simply non -negotiable even at the early stage, like security or privacy.

So those are things that you can discuss with the EdTech, make sure that they are prepared for that. And probably for most EdTechs, this is going to be the point at which you’re introducing them to the wonderful world of…

k12 procurement and contracting etc etc, which many founders will not be familiar with right and so from the ed tech founder perspective, you’re going to hear a lot about things like security,

privacy, right, FERPA in the US, GDPR in the UK or Europe right, but also accessibility, WCAG and these are my things you’ve you’ve thought about or maybe,

you know, kind of a glimpse of at some point in your career, but you probably haven’t woven those into your product as of yet. So understand that institutions and schools will probably ask for this stuff,

in some cases require it. Also understand that those things will be critical for you in the future to make a sale. They may not be critical in the MVP when you’re simply trying to test a hypothesis.

By the way, Rarebird will be offering a workshop early next year for ed tech founders on what we call the five product non -negotiables.

I’ll be announcing that in December and advertising it on our website. – Fantastic. Well, you know, yeah. love it. I’m happy for the Shameless Plugin. I hope you’ll share that with us as soon as you have it.

We’ll put it up, make sure that it’s in the show notes here so that people can join and would love to help you promote that. I wanna circle back ’cause we’re in a really great place right now thinking about,

you know, here’s the institution and here’s, you know, what would be, especially with the advent of the Generavate AI products, an ocean. ocean of founders or small products out there.

I want to go back to that first question. How do I know or what criteria do you counsel your clients around when should I ignore one? I stop ignoring one of these, right? When it moves from that,

“Hey, it’s a toy,” I guess, and let me make this a two -part question. When does it go from, “Hey, this is just a cute little thing to something,” wow, this could really have have impact for us.” Is there a way to have that criteria?

And then secondly, it’s like, again, with the advent of so many generative AI products that there’s a lot of lookalikes, there’s a lot of similar, kind of just different flavors of the same thing,

does it matter or how do I choose which horse to bet on, or do I have to have like a portfolio of kind of investments that I’m going there? I would be surprised if most publicly funded K -12 districts or schools or colleges or universities have sufficient budget to always be testing stuff.

I think the exception tends to be, you know, the higher ranking business schools. I see a lot of testing and experimentation there. But I think, you know, you talk about your typical department of online education or continuing ed in a,

you know, or educational technology or curriculum in a K -12 district, they just don’t have a lot of budget to spend on this stuff and to test stuff out.

So I think for early stage founders, it’s gonna be incumbent on you to understand that and provide some means for them to have a no -cost or low -cost pilot.

But to your question, I think the answer as to when is it too early or when is it the right time to start testing this stuff is going to vary from institution to institution in units.

They’re not the simple answer to that, but certainly you can expect that you would be thinking about what are our problems and what are our priorities because some problems are higher priorities.

priority than others, and a high priority problem for which there is no obvious solution might be a really good candidate to go out and test some early stage solutions with.

Give me an example of something that would be high priority that you’ve seen recently in your practice. So, you know, I think during and after the pandemic student mental health has been a top priority for for certain units or certain departments within both K -12 and higher ed.

And that’s an area for which there really hasn’t been a lot of obvious solutions, at least technology enabled solutions in the past. More are available today,

but that’s certainly one of those issues. But I think for higher ed institutions, especially, right, they’re thinking about enrollments, they’re thinking about creating… demand.

That might be a priority for them. In K -12, it might be about the teacher shorted or retaining teachers, right? That’s mission critical to them delivering the services that they promised to the public.

So those are some examples. I can’t really speak to the specific companies that you might go out and chase down for those challenges. There are several, but those are some examples of how an institution,

a district, and a district. might have a list of priorities, and it’s through that list of priorities that they decide, okay, there’s nothing out here that’s going to help us here, at least as far as we know. Maybe we should do a little searching,

maybe we should do a little exploration and see what might be percolating in ed tech. So that’s number one, like what are your priorities? Number two is what are your you know,

what are your requirements in terms of IT? What are those non -negotiables for you even just to test something out? Does it have to be integrated with your SIS?

Does it have to support single sign -on? Do you have to have the right terms in the terms of service or EULI for privacy or data usage? Does it have to be accessible in a test phase or a pilot phase,

right? What are those non -negotiables? What are those requirements for you? And then I think it’s really important gets down to, okay, we know that this is a match for our priorities. We know that it will satisfy at least the minimum non -negotiables at this stage for our expectations.

Then is this a company or a product that we can trust? Do they have credibility that helps us believe or gives us a sense of promise that they’re gonna be around a year from now?

now to years from now, 10 years from now. And that credibility is hard. That credibility for an early -stage company, it’s almost a catch -22. You can’t develop credibility unless you gain customers,

but you can’t gain customers unless you have credibility. So we can talk about how ed techs might start to gain credibility. And again, different institutions will have different requirements for credibility.

Maybe a institution would love to be the first customer. Maybe an institution only will be the 100th customer. They need to see that their peer institutions have chosen and adopted this technology first.

Credibility is in my mind that last consideration before deciding whether or not it’s worth it to engage with an early -stage company. Fantastic. I love it. Talk to me about the other end of the deal that I think probably probably,

maybe we definitely don’t think about it as often because we put a lot of, you know, we front load our effort in order to say, how do we make a good choice to take a test? How do you gracefully walk out,

you know, when something doesn’t work out? Or, you know, hey, we’ve done the six months and you know what, this just, it’s not a good fit or we want to go a [inaudible] obviously you have your criteria.

There is a reason why you’re walking away. Talk to me about that aspect. Yeah. So as hard as it might be, or maybe it’s easy. I think, you know, school district leaders,

academic technologists, higher ed leaders, right, they need to provide ed texts that they have started a relationship with, with feedback, because that’s really what they need.

And not everybody loves feedback. In fact, I think everybody sort of struggles to honestly and openly accept critical feedback, but that’s what they need. So certainly there will be some term to any kind of relationship if you formalize it a period of time.

And during that period of time, right, there’ll probably be some way for you to just walk away or stop using it, no big deal. But I think when you do so, so, it’s in your best interest and it’s in the ad text best interest to provide that feedback,

whatever it might be, however harsh it might be, right? Like if nobody’s using the product, because it’s buggy, tell them that it’s buggy. If people aren’t using the product because the integration with your LMS sucks,

tell them the integration sucks, right? If people are trying to use the product, but they can’t get a hold of anybody within the the ad tech to provide some support They need to know that right or if folks are using it But they’re not actually seeing any measurable difference in teaching learning Efficiency whatever the desired outcome is they need to know that and they need to know that One because it’s just being

honest and that’s part of the relationship But two because especially early -stage companies they need to know when they need to pivot right? They’re trying to find what’s called product market fits.

And that doesn’t happen your first try, your first go out. That happens over time, maybe even over years. And it’s a combination of developing your product so that it has the best product market fit,

but also finding the right customer for your product. So again, that kind of comes back to me. that idea that this is a relationship and some institutions will be a better fit for an ed tech than others.

Some products will be a better fit for some schools and institutions than others. But it’s really up to the founders of the ed tech to understand that these things are going to change and pivot and evolve over time.

The customers you start with may not be the ideal customer profile that you target two years from now. The product that you start with may not be be the product that you’re bringing to market two years from now.

So again, I’m probably beating a dead horse here, but that feedback that founders and leaders within ed techs get from schools and institutions is critical to them because they need to make those decisions fast.

They’re usually on a short timeline in terms of the resources that are funding their business. So the faster that they can move toward the right direction for the product or for the customers they engage with,

the better. So flip that on its head, and I love that you put it out there. I wonder if there’s ever been an entrepreneurial journey where the first idea or the MVP that came out was the actual product that ultimately scaled and hit them.

I can’t think of an IU. Probably true. You know, I mean, I think about the products that I use daily, even if I start… to use them in the early days, they’re not they’re not the same as what they were,

right? No happily case But so if I flip on ahead, you know, let’s just say you are the head of the innovation department as you were or You’re you’re one of these early adopters in an institution or whatnot And you’ve you’ve found something that you’re like,

wow, this really has legs I think this could really work and the relationships going great There is typically typically that red tape, or you’ve got to manage upward in order to get acceptance with your colleagues,

to get acceptance across the institution, et cetera. Even though that still may be– it may be your job to be the person who goes discover these things. There’s usually a lot of– there can be a lot of resistance.

What’s your advice for the institution side about having– those conversations, preparing for them, smoothing that pathway.

Yeah. So I think if you work in a school or a district or a college or university and you found a new ed tech solution that maybe is untested in the market,

but you’ve had a chance to test it enough that you feel like it’s worth bringing to your users, your stakeholders. I think you have to think about it as a pilot initiative.

And you really have to fence it off. And you have to decide who within the institution would be the right people to bring into this pilot,

to bring into this initiative, to help us test it in a more controlled way than just releasing it out into the open for everybody to use, right? So keep it very controlled, keep it fenced in.

be deliberate in terms of thinking about the people who you want to participate in it, right? Have a good representation of the campus involved. And by that,

I mean, you know, not only in terms of diversity, but also in terms of technological sophistication or pedagogical sophistication, right? You want folks who maybe don’t like to use technology.

technology or are sort of stuck in a mode where they’re using traditional teaching methods, but you also want folks who are highly innovative or always testing new things out.

So I think you want a mix of people but you do want a relatively small controlled group in case anything goes wrong, but also so that you can have a clear way of measuring the impact or the outcomes of the pilot.

So that’s how I would start. And then, of course, if you’re going to be paying for a pilot, you may or may not have to go through procurement, depending on the rules of your institution or your state.

A pilot’s probably going to be cheap enough that if you have a little bit of margin in your budget, you can probably just pay for it with a pro card or something. But then, also, of course, you may have to change it.

with IT, again, depending on your rules and policies, to make sure that this is acceptable, to make sure that there’ll be no negative consequences on the IT staff, at least not that they’re unwilling to accept or on security of information,

on support, so on and so forth. So yeah, you just have to check your boxes and it really does become a new initiative for you or your team. which will consume resources,

but you would only be doing that if you were betting that life on the other side is going to be much better than life right now. I am always fascinated by how quickly a half hour goes in these conversations,

but I have a final question for you. And the final question is, especially in the generative AI era that we find ourselves in.

Can’t believe, you know, chat GBT was released a year ago already on the, on the universe. How do, as an institution, how do I, where do I look for promising and legitimate and as you say,

you know trustworthy startups and solutions, you know, in a way that it’s not just sort of a, you know, a Google search or an internet search. Like, you know, you said you’re, you’re standing at the tip of the mountain there where there’s a value.

value where ed tech started, but then there’s Silicon Valley, there’s Austin, Texas, there’s New York. There’s so many different places. Are there forums, chats, conferences, or where would you look if you were tasked with this from an institution to just keep your finger on the pulse,

but then also say, hey, here’s a legitimate set that I should continue to pay attention to to start making choices from. That’s a good question. So for K -12 and higher ed in the US,

there are, you know, there are a couple of national conferences that I believe they still encourage early stage startups to participate in.

So, you know, ISTI for K -12 and EDUCAUSE for higher ed at EDUCAUSE each year, or at least, you know, the past five, six years, in the vendor hall,

there has been what they call Startup Alley, where EDUCAS makes it very affordable for a startup to showcase what they’re working on and have those conversations. And that usually gets pretty good traffic.

So I like those events because they’re events that you’re probably going to go to already. You have a chance to meet with a bunch of founders and see a bunch of products at once.

Those events sort of ask the ed techs themselves to put some skin in the game in terms of you know sponsoring and showing up. So I like those but those are only once a year and so if if you’re kind of looking all the time that that’s not necessarily going to serve you well.

So yeah if you’re looking all the time you’re trying to stay in touch with what’s happening right now. now, you can watch on LinkedIn. There’s a lot of threads and posts by founders of EdTechs on LinkedIn talking about what they’re building,

sharing what they’re learning. That’s one way to do it. Other than that, you can be monitoring investor periodicals. You can be checking out the publications of the specific specific journals or whatever that you would normally read that a deal with academic technology or ed tech and just watch for what’s mentioned there.

But I don’t know of any particular hub that I would strongly recommend. There certainly are organizations like StartEd for whom I volunteer and mentor that help early stage companies learn about.

about the market, develop their practices, and start to engage with potential customers. But, I think that’s more around product development,

go to market planning, developing your business. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a community for potential users and customers to engage with early stage ed techs.

So, but I’m… will say this is the first side of that really quickly is, you know, if you are an ed tech founder, you’re probably, no matter how much discovery and research you’re doing, no matter how many conversations you’re having,

you’re probably not having enough. And a lot of folks that you call and try to talk to will say no, but you got to keep trying. You’ve really got to have those conversations.

You’ve really got to focus on, and as some have said, fall in love with with the problem, not your solution in order to develop that product market fit and determine that market feasibility.

It’s up to them to go out and start those conversations. I love it. We will fall in love with the problem and put a pin in it there. Jared Stein, you are the founder,

the owner of Rare Bird, and you are advising ed tech startups out there to have Thank you. conversations to fall in love with that problem. I really love it. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you if they have questions or like to follow up with you?

Sure. My website is rarebird .tech, T -E -C -H. And you can just email me, Jared @rarebird .tech. Super cool. Thank you so much again for taking your time out of your day.

And I hope we get to talk again before three years. This was so fun. I hope we do as well. Have a great day. Bye -bye. Thank you again for listening to the eLearn podcast here from OpenLMS.

I just wanted to ask one more time, if you enjoyed this show, if you learned something, if you were inspired, if you were challenged, if you feel like this is something you can take into your practice, please do me a favor and right now on your podcast player,

hit subscribe. That way you’re never going to miss a future episode. Also, come over to eLearnmagazine .com and subscribe there as well because we have tons of great and about how to create killer online learning outcomes.


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