The education industry in India is considered to be a multi-billion market. First-time entrepreneurs (like me) plunge into a startup with the aim to sell to schools and make a lot of money with ease. This ease becomes unease in a couple of months when it becomes f**king difficult to get even the first appointment with the school principal.
Education and Healthcare are two such categories where no one wants to compromise. People spent a hefty amount on child’s education and family health. You think that schools are making so much money these days, so why can’t I sell something to schools and be part of their success. Agree?
Don’t consider schools as cash cows or low hanging fruits.
My experience with schools was not great in my first startup. I am not sure about many other startups selling to schools, but we had a hard time to cross gatekeeper and speak with the principal of the school. Our first few customers (schools) were from references only and slowly we found some more customers who were willing to try our product.
But what is the problem with schooling industry? I am sharing few points with my experience of selling to schools.
- Most of the schools do not care about student’s education. They are running business and all they care about making $$$ money.
- They are interested in product that can be sold to parents irrespective of how beneficial it is for student. I have seen smart boards in some schools that appear to be rarely used for teaching. They just joined the race of becoming smart school so that they can charge more from parents.
- They don’t even buy your product free of cost if its not a money earning instrument. *You keep 30% schools keep 70%* product may be sold.
- Don’t talk about benefit of student’s learning, better humans, and relationship with parents?—?Talk about how to lure parents to get more admissions!! (Smart Class tactics)
- They don’t look at your brochures. Leave it at reception or their desk and it will go straight to dustbin.
- Most of email-ids mentioned on their website do not exist, yes, emails bounce from their official email-ids!!! Surprised?
- Some email-ids exist but no one opens them, if they open then never respond!! Very low ROI from email marketing. It only works with mature & Internet savvy schools.
- Its difficult to find who is the decision maker. Principal live like a puppet, without having any power to take decisions. He is the top profile for parents and teachers but not for startups.
- Decision makers do not sit inside schools. They are running their own businesses somewhere else (Builders, Trustees, Management Directors, Owners)
- It takes about 4 to 6 months to close a deal with school. If you are lucky, they will pay on time.
- No one knows what sort of software is required in their school. They believe they are running the super efficient software, but you will find them working on excel sheets.
- They don’t really cares about technology, next generation software, go-green initiative, data protection or security unless you solve their real pain point.
- Don’t even talk about transparency of activities through software!! Their business involves black money and they are scared to hell to disclose anything. Ssshhh…
But the time demands a revolution in the field of education field. I have shared my experience with different schools in Gurgaon, Delhi and Chandigarh area. Like humans, all schools are not same. There are always exceptions. Some schools are doing awesome work for students and teachers. It all depends on their management and school’s business.
If you care about student development, then stop selling to schools and shift your focus to selling directly to parents. Only parents can appreciate student-focused product because they genuinely care about their kid’s future.
If we can fix education, many other things will be fixed automatically. Better human beings make better societies.
Create something to add value to the future generation. There are lots of fresh engineers, commerce & arts graduates, but companies are struggling to find talent. Make something to make students skilled & employable. Or build something that can reach to masses at low cost and add high value to their lives (English teaching mobile apps).
I failed at my education venture, but you can learn from my mistakes and build next big thing. I am running a personal finance blog CashOverflow. Please leave your feedback and share your experience selling to Indian schools.
[About the author: Pardeep is an Entrepreneur, who left his job to explore his passion in startups. He co-founded two startups in past. Now, a freelance writer, digital marketer and running a blog on personal finance – CashOverflow.in. He can be followed on Twitter @pardeepg]