Edtech startups find demand from an unlikely customer: Public schools – TechCrunch


School district technology budgets are tight. But Kami CEO and founder Hengjie Wang wanted to make his company’s digital classroom product a go-to tool anyway.

He landed on trying to disrupt the printers.

Wang found that school districts spend an average of $150,000 every year on printed materials. Kami helps teachers digitize worksheets so students can digitally annotate them. Doing the math, Wang says Kami can save districts an estimated $80,000 by getting rid of the need to print handouts every day.

“Districts are apprehensive on paying for tools unless you can also save them money at the same time,” Wang said. With this tactic, the number of school districts using Kami doubled between March and July, going from from 9,987 districts to 17,915 districts. Sales for the startup, which was founded in 2013, grew over 2,000%. Today, Kami is a cash-flow positive business that sells to schools and parents.

When it comes to wide-scale and equitable adoption for edtech startups, success can often hinge on landing contracts that extend to an entire school network. However, budget cuts and red tape have often limited a company’s ability to grow. During the pandemic, consumer edtech startups such as live tutoring or question and answer services have soared now that more kids are learning from home.

However, a second surge in edtech might be upon us. As schools seek to reopen with a hybrid learning solution, Kami and other startups are finding opportunity in one of the hardest institutions to sell to: K-12 school districts.



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