I spend a fair amount of time every day looking at innovations within the EdTech market space. Seeing what other entrepreneurs in the space are working on is exciting; plus it forces me to think about my product and how we can innovate.
Lately I’ve been talking to several founders working to build tools to help educators teach students how to code. One thing I’ve heard from many of these founders is that the market for investors has been crowded by CodeAcademy.
Codeacademy was early to the space, graduated from Y Combinator, and raised 12.5 million from some of the top Angles and VCs. They have been a success in many ways, helping over 25 million learners complete 100 million lessons. This means the average student completed 4 lessons, which is hardly enough to pick up a new skill. (Note, I assume a large percentage of students don’t complete more than one or two lessons, which would drive up their median lessons completed number.) In the five years that they’ve been around they haven’t swept the market or penetrated schools like they were expected to. And since they were such a high profile investment, many of the top investors are locked in to Codeacademy as their bet in the online coding space – which means they can’t invest in companies in the same space.
And the space needs more entrepreneurs innovating.
Codesters is working to provide teachers with curriculum in a box so non technical teachers can champion computer science. Trinket lets teachers and students write, run, and share code from any device. New non profits like Code.org and CSNYC were started to help fill the void and bring computer science into public schools. They are working to bring code as a skill into all parts of the curriculum.
But given the scale of the problem, and the market opportunity, it is disappointing that there isn’t more innovation occurring in the space. I wonder where the market would be today if less investors had bet on Codeacademy, and had spread their resources across more firms.