What does it take to go from start-up to scale in the education sector?
In 2015, Tyton Partners launched the Tyton Growth50, an annual recognition of dynamic growth-stage companies across all markets in the education sector. In March 2016, we had the chance to sit down with leaders from three of those inaugural winners during our featured session at SXSWEdu:
- Andrew Grauer, CEO and Co-Founder of Course Hero, an online, crowd-sourced B2C repository of content, tools, and services to study documents
- Jason Bedford, SVP of DreamBox Learning, an adaptive learning solution delivering personalized math instruction to students in PreK-8 education
- Lane Rankin, CEO and President of Illuminate Education, an online assessment, analytics, and student success platform
Our conversation focused on understanding the how these businesses gained traction in the markets they serve, and the lessons learned along the way in driving scale and outcomes. Importantly, Andrew, Jason, and Lane also shared their recommendations to entrepreneurs and other start-ups in the space.
All agreed on certain fundamental attributes that successful growth-stage businesses possess:
- Relentlessly pursue a vision
- Build a company culture that support ideas and innovation
- Solve problems your clients face
- Focus ruthlessly on the end-user and on improving the quality and impact of what you’re delivering to them at all stages of product development
Additional insights shared included:
- For Coursehero, the importance of focusing first on defining and refining its core product offering and client base before shifting to solving issues of product distribution and scale
- For Dreambox, which views itself as a practitioner-focused organization comprised of “teachers in the technology business”, the imperative in creating an authentic connection with their core customers – i.e., K-8 educators
- For Illuminate, which supports a state-specific approach to the K-12 market, the importance of going deep on unique issues facing their clients, rather than rushing to purse a broad national strategy
We’ll be sharing more insights from these Growth50 CEOs in the coming weeks, as well as perspectives from BloomBoard, HireVue, and WyzAnt, among others, so stay tuned.
Want to nominate a company for the 2016 Tyton Growth50? Please click here to submit your recommendation.