Monday, 22 June 2015

Massive Collaboration in EdTech Sales

I sent Sherry Coutu from Founders4Schools a recent post and we had a conversation about entrepreneurship in education as she asked for my comments.

I gave Sherry my thoughts about some previous education enterprise initiatives, and may not have left the best first impression as I was a little critical of previous initiatives. while my comments may not have been too positive about others working in this space, the feedback was honest.

This post considers my take on the much banded about buzz word "collaborate" and an offer of some massive collaboration, which could be a win-win scenario... possibly with a collective saving of up to £360,000 for 12 organisations, including Founders4Schools.

NB The start of this post may be a little bit "ranty," if your not in the mood for this please feel to skip to the more positve (If not a little crazy) "Open Source Sales" section at the end.

UK Enterprise Schemes
When I researched my business development report for FE I found 259 enterprise agencies in the UK, many of whom work with young people. At best there did not seem to be a great deal of collaboration between each group. 

At worst some projects were poorly thought out and may end up having questionable value, unlikely to provide a return on investment for educators, students or their schools in any way shape or form.

I also find it curious that all these entrepreneurs go into schools with all thier enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit, but the school remains plunged in crippling buget cuts before, during and after the talk.
Don't tell me about entreprenurship... Show Me! 

And if you are just going to tell our kids about enterprise, make sure you tell them... warts and all! Try sharing this post The Psychological Price of Entreprenurship when the latest shiny new school enterprise initiative is being launched, not a popular choice of startup literature with the organisers.

For a variety of reasons I'm not a successful entrepreneur (and am unlikely to become one). However, I would be able to give a few examples where I've helped educators with some new ideas and bring in some additional revenue.

Startups... It's not all plain sailing!
Collaboration is another area I'd like to have a rant about. Every man and his dog talks about the value of collaboration. But this appears to me to be a very particular brand of "Collaboration," one that I've not quite managed to figure out. As best as I can make out, this is;

 "Collaborate, as long as it's in our best interests..." Or "As long as you're a member of our cosy club"

I can't imagine what the reaction would be if someone suggested to these organisations that they should consider collaborating with a competitor.

Recently I've written in support of organisations who are operating in the same space.
  • Teaching HOW2 and Mind Genius have both developed Mind Mapping/Modeling solutions
  • PledgeCents and DonorsChoose with Get2ISTE and Chris Beyrle's 3D Printer.
Is there a conflict of interest here? I would not have said so.

Firstly, I would remind people that EdShelf would have been a direct competitor to my plans, but I still pitched in and helped where I could. Today I would like to think that a potential competitor has become a potential collaborator.

Secondly, I can see benefits with these organisations collaborating... HOW2 have experience with Model Mapping in education and MindGenius' solutions have worked in developing their business interests. 

Both are totally focused on the customers' experience. What would happen if they collaborated with each playing to their strengths? I've no idea but, if successful, it would add to their collective expertise and resources.

Both PledgeCents and DonorsChoose will have issues with unfulfilled causes. If lots of educators create crowd funding campaigns but they don't get funded, educators may question the value of the entire crowdfunding model.

All crowdfunding providers would suffer as a result, it's surely in both organisations best interest to find sustainable alternative sources of funding. For my part, I'm focusing on the organisations culture and the customers need... not who's competing with who.

Elliott Hauser explains this far better than I do in his "Don't Build Too Much... Double Down at What You're Good At" post

Finally, I know that the organisations who make the biggest difference are Dave Logan's "Stage 5 Teams" and they will collaborate with anyone and everyone to achieve the "Noble Cause" the organisation sets for themselves.

I believe many of the organisations I write about share this outlook because they are mission based companies... It's not just all about revenue or profit for them.

Identify Core Values... then Align them with a Noble Cause
Open Source Sales
I've written a great deal about sales in education recently, and Sherry  liked the sound of some of my ideas. I've had a quick look at Founder4Schools and it does look different to some of the other enterprise projects that I've been critical of over the last few years.

While I have no problem with providing honest feedback (even if it is a first impression), I don't want to come across as being dour and negative.

Founders4Schools is also a charity that relies on word of mouth referals and I am happy to help where ever and when ever I can, so I thought I'd suggest an idea for a roll out model with a massive amount of collaboration, and some open source sales. 

This might include organisations like Schools4Founders, Engage Labs, Bad Idea, Declara, Intern Rocket, CAS Scotland, Mind Modelling/Mapping, Trinket, Alchemie, Smart Science, Hero Lab, Mad Learn, PledgeCents and 3D Hubs (And could include others, these are just organisations that immediately came to mind... apologies if I've missed any awesome people out here).

What have all these organisations got in common? They appear to be mission based and have a commitment to STEM based projects in some way. They might also be complimentary to one another. For example... 

The STEM/Enterprise Collaboration Pitch
Founders4Schools comes into present the school, this inspires students to get entreprenurial and they discuss some project ideas with the visiting founder.

The collaboration with the school could continue online via Intern Rocket or Declara through resources like their Entreprenurs collections and mind mapping tools.

A follow up visit is organised if any Bad Idea or PlanIt sessions are planned so the founder can provide some guidance and input.

If ideas have a science element, students could see if Smart Science and Alechmie might be able to help.

If the idea involves the coding club, Trinket, Mad Learn and the schools CAS Scotland project lead can get involved and their idea needs some new kit to develop prototypes, the students open a crowdfunding project for a 3D printer... And they get some sales hustle on! 

Students engage with local employers to convince them of the merits of a shared 3D Printer via 3D Hub... funding is secured and these employers come to the school for their own prototype needs.

...and soon we have some primary school kids help make a prosthetic hand, like Susan Beardens did and Chris Beyerle is trying to do, and the students get put forward for a collaboration award too.

More importantly, the students are more inspired than event and are engaged with STEM and the business community.

The Value Proposition
What savings could be made if 1-2 people delivered a pitch like this for 12 organisations and took them to our schools,  instead of each organisation having a sales person? 12 people on a wage of £20-30,000 = savings of £240-360,000 per annum.

Plenty savings to go into funds like Get2ISTE and school crowdfunding projects... and a little left over to save on the company's P&L sheet. Then there is time savings to the school with reduced calls and presentations, so they can explore the TweechMe App and some EdChats (#EdTechChatUK and #EdTechBridgeUK, maybe ;))

Then we all go home after a good days work inspiring some young people to enjoy a nice cup of coffee. 

Crazy idea, right? Any crazy people reading this feel free to get in touch, sane people and detractors not required at this stage.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Crowdfunding for Edu... in 3D?

Image result for 3dhubs
I wrote two posts yesterday which were at opposite end of the sales process, and at different stages of the technology adoption cycle in education. One article detailed how challenging educators can be to engage with initially, the other suggested how sales people in education could become a thing of the past

In one of these posts I made an offer of assisting Chris Beyerle with his Crowdfunding projectfor a 3D printer. Why focus on Chris' campaign when there are hundreds of educator crowdfunding causes out there? Good question. The answer is;

1) Because he asked! He asked if I could share details of the crowd funding... So I did.

2) I feel that alternative marketing models in EdTech are needed, and EdTech marketing budgets contributing to these projects makes sense to me.

3) Through my involvement with Get2ISTE I have had a few enquiries from educators asking for advice on their crowdfunding causes.

4) Chris supported #SaveEdShelf. As someone who frequently writes about culture and core values in my blog, these things matter to me... a lot! 

Furthermore, if you look at some of my ambitious goals in this Fox of EdTech post, not only does Chris seem to be a "selfless giver" helping others out as and when he can... the proposal below also involves collaboration and could help another organisation with their sales efforts.

But how can I effectively help with this project? Providing any assistance poses nothing but challenges... That was until last night. The problems included;

Lack of Funds
As a pre-revenue startup/aspiring Community Manager looking for work (Depending on what kind of day I'm having), I am not in a position to contribite financially. I wish I was! But my time is all I can offer with causes like this at the moment.

Parents and Educators
I understand that a lot of crowdfunded contributions comes from parents and educators. With parental contributions I would have thought this might be a duplication on anything that PTA would already be doing. 

If I share details of the campaign on social media the message will reach more educators than any other group. As far as I am concerned educator contributions kind of feels like "robbing peter to pay paul" with crowd funding causes.

Educators already clock up £7 billion of unpaid overtime and $400 of their own money on school supplies.

Surely there is a better model and source of potential funding than educators paying for other educators projects on top of these already shocking statistics?!

Echo Chamber
Then there is that fact any information that I send out may have already seen it via Chris' message. So there is a need to "get out of the Echo Chamber".

Education Suppliers
Education suppliers re-directing some of their marketing spend might be the most feasible option to the challenges above. But there are two problems with this;

1) "Selling" this idea to supplier has not proved successful so far.

2) Even if this was of interest, the demand for educator causes may be greater than any marketing budget suppliers contributed.

Some Solutions... In 3D?

4th Grade Inspiration

Just as I was about the hit publish on yesterdays post to look for support for Chris' crowd funding cause, Susan Bearden Tweets details of a collaborative project where her 4th grade class printed a prosthetic hand. Her students have been put forward for because of the inter-departmental collaboration.

Please share this link with as many people as you can...
These kids deserve the recognition for their hard work.
Through Tweeting information about these two educators 3D projects, some 3D printer organisations following me on social media. I check out their accounts and guess what I find? Not one, but two potential solutions to the above challenges.

3D Hub
My digging around leads me to 3DHubs website, I check the organisation out and find they have an interesting model... One that could see schools generate income and have more businesses engage with the school.

Own a 3D Printer?
So you bought an awesome 3D printer, but it's sitting idly most of the time? Put it to good use by sharing it with those around you and make some extra cash along the way.

3DHub is also looking for a Community Manager intern, I tweet out that I would be happy to help out in education with some community management work.

If you are in a school and have a printer please do yourself, Chris and me a favour, sign up to 3D hubs community and add your school to this map.

Local Partnerships
I'm sure a lot of schools are looking at 3D printers, and crowd funding may be the only way of procuring one. How many of these crowdfunding campaigns get fulfilled?

I've found 186 live causes with a total goal amout of $328,355 live campaigns with $36,298 raised (See Crowdfunding Causes 3D Printers doc), a lot of this will come from staff and parents.

But how many of these causes will be fulfilled, with $292,057 still to raise?

But what if... The schools crowdfund for a 3D printer was to save local businesses money? What if the schools fund-raising was pitched to local businesses as the printer being a shared resource for the local community? This would tie in with 3D Hubs mission, which is 

"To make 3D printing locally accessible to everyone by "unlocking" the world's idle 3D printers, facilitating transitions between 3D Hubs (Printer owners) and people that want to make 3D Prints (Makers)"

Where better to have a 3D printers than in education?

The Pitch
Write to local businesses and ask them for a contribution to the schools 3D printer crowd fund. In return for this contribution they would have access to the printer.

Who knows where this partnership could end up? This could be the start of some relationships that led to the kind of collaboration that Susan Bearden's students have been put forward for an award.

As this ties into 3D Hubs mission, perhaps they could help spread the word about school crowdfunding within their community... and educators could make sure that schools with printers were aware of 3D Hubs community.

Secure crowdfunding for edu, while helping 3D Hubs with their mission... and not a sales call in sight!

I'd be keen to hear any comments about this idea. In the mean time, to get the ball rolling...

3D Hub, I'd happy to do some Community Management work in edu and would appreciate if if you could make your contacts aware of Chris' project.

Educators, you may want to check out 3D Hubs offer for schools and their 3D Printing Contest

21st June Update 
After writing this post 3D Hubs got in touch and liked the sound of this idea

3D Hubs and Collaboration in Education

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Job Interview: Where Do you See Yourself in a Year?

For the last few years I've noticed that the sales process with the adoption of technology is broken, there's been too much selling of products that fail to live up to expectation. It's encouraging to see this starting to change.

However, as the model changes, there might be something of a psycological shift needed, one that encourages people to get behind a new way of doing things. In this post I highlight how and why sales people might want to consider sales as a short term contract Vs full time peremanent employment... and maybe even for educators who are advocates of a product/brand to be renumerated the same way as sales reps.

Where do you see yourself in a years' time? Not Here?
One of those cringeworthy questions from the company HR guru, who is trying to assess for motivation and drive... That is if you've been fortunate enough to be shortlisted for an interview in this dispicable economic climate.

Where do you see yourself in 12 months time?

If I have to revert back to sales while continuing to develop my community management skills, my answer will be;

Well, if you've got the right culture, have achieved product market fit and look after your existing customers... I won't expect to be working here!

We'll have reached the early market... developed our marketing materials and presentations to help the early majority choose our service... then make the necessary changes for the laggards. Job done! I'll have sold myself out of a job.

I'll bet if you had a look on LinkedIn at some of the EdTech companies that educators universally love, you'd find they don't emply any sales people.

No Cold Calls
Who says that a company needs to have a team of full time sales people all hammering the phone, putting calls in that no one likes?

The recipient doesn't like them, the sales person doesn't like making them and the Sales Director and CEO will tell sales staff often enough how much a drain on resources they are. So why do we have them? From what I can see there are three reasons;

1) That the company has accured so many overheads that they urgently need sales in order to stay afloat, the companies overheads dictate the rate of growth.

2) That the service has not achieved product market fit or, if it has it is scaling too fast and have issues with operations and the implementation of the service.

3) Product market fit has been achieved and it's time to scale the business.

Your Fired... So are you... And You!
The only option that would be of interest to me out of the list above is the third option, and the product/service is ready to scale. But even in this situation, I would question if sales people were needed.

If you've achieved product market fit and have executed the implementation well, lots of users should be proponents and will assist with sales efforts through word of mouth referrals.
If this is a startup just starting out, they may be unlikely to get these referrals until educators have explored the product/service, nor will they give a recommendation after the first use. It may take 3-6 months before the startup has a suitable number of references and solid case studies.

At this stage some startups may work out, but most won't. Early pilots may not go so well, and the founders may find that the original idea hasn't worked out as well as expected. I have mentioned How2 and Trinket a few times in recent posts, and they found this to be the case.

Iterating your way to product market fit is a messy process, and changing course is an extremely common occurance... That is if the organisation has the right culture and the self awareness and confidence to "pivot." Check out how difficult Trinket found this process to be: How we got from Coursefork to Trinket

If Coursefork had hired a whole bunch of sales people who had experience with selling based on their initial product, the changes the company made could have been even more difficult.

It might have involved the dilemma of letting staff go because they had the wrong kind of experience with the new product, or keeping them in post even though they were not as experienced in the new area of focus.

Geoffrey Moore highlights how and why sales has the highest turnover of staff in startups, and it has nothing to do with the sales department... And everything to do with a distinct lack of product market fit (A High Tech Parable on P42 is worth a read).

The outcome for Sales People if product market fit has not been achieved?

Product Market Fit... Sell! Sell! Sell! Or Educate?
So you've managed to do what few in education have done, you achieve product market fit. Great! Now what? Now you ramp everything up, engage, scale and generally sell your socks off.

But even with great products, sales calls to educators is still a drain on educators time. So what's the answer? What about...Educating educators on the sales process and to;
  • Identify the early adopters 
  • Let them play about with the early product 
  • Get their input to assess if the idea has merit 
  • They can help determine when the product has achieved product market fit, then 
  • Help to roll the product out
There is still very much a need for sales people, but instead of it being a case of

"We would like you to buy XYZ product" It would be as case of,
"I'm calling to see if you'd be interested in helping us develop an idea we've had for ABC"

This is every bit as hard a "sell" as the more traditional method... And just as much can go wrong.
  • Educators may not "get" an idea: The idea may be a real games changer, but there isn't much enthusiasm for it. We've seen with various discontinious innovations being rejected by the incumbents in industries like gaming, music, retail, photography etc.
  • Partnering with the wrong groups: If product market fit is adjacent to what you are doing you may find that your idea does have merit, but you're speaking to people in the wrong departments.
  • Brutally Honest Relationships: It takes a strong relationship to be able to say "This concept isn't working," whether educator or founder, it takes courage to admit to yourself and others that "What we've spent all our time on here isn't working, we should shut it down"
There will be a lull in sales once you've found these early adopters and are working with them to see if the product fulfils a need. What will the sales person have to sell and to whom during this period?

Get2ISTE is an example of this lull between 27th March-30th May 8 people opened an account and 3 were funded. Would the other 5 accounts been fulfilled with a little more sales effort? Would more accounts be created? It may have had a bit of an impact.

However, there is nothing that any sales person would be able to do that would rival educators if they were to employ some of these ideas at ISTE... and if they don't? We have to assume that there is no demand for the idea and it doesn't deserve to grow and/or needs to be tweeked.

Success! Show Me the Money
Let's say that all of the above has happened (as it has done for a handful of companie), what could be done to facilitate more of these kinds of partnerships. What happens when things do work out?

If a concept is proven and starts to scale and money comes in, what if an agreement between educator and startup was reached when the partnership was established? 

This could include issues like renumeration with the school and/or educator, which would be paid when the business started generating revenue. The benefits of this model?
  • Educators would have better products... and less sales calls!
  • The educator would know that their time was valued, and would have some additional revenue for themselves and/or their school
  • There would be a good working relationship, one that could lead to the roles being reversed as the partnership starts to discuss new ideas, and might include helping educators develop their ideas and take them "to market" 
This is Already Happening
All of this is already happening in some form. For example, EdTech incubators work like this and produce superior products to other companies. However, in my opinion it is not a like-for-like comparison, and is unfair on other suppliers.

There are also revenue models where educators are recompensed for their time through programs like Teachers Pay Teachers or perks from being an ambassador for various products.

Products are constantly being discussed on social media. Some EdChats even have talks dedicated to particular products.

What impact do these referrals have on educators adopting these services? 
I would imagine that it's quite high.

What is the rate of commission for these sales? 
Probably non-existent.

What if an educators advocacy was compared with some of the company's sales reps? Probably

Demonstrate a Need?
I don't think that I need to go into too much detail to discuss the need for products to have more input from educators, do I?

Just in case I do, instead of highlighting the shortcomings of suppliers, how about extolling the benefits of working with educators... Check this out: Eduprenurs

Since I've been involved with Get2ISTE I've had a few educators write to me asking if I could help with their class crowdfunding projects, then there is the fact that the #NotAtISTE Twitter steam has a few comments about missing the event due to costs.So the need is there
  • Suppliers needing to get more input to ensure they have achieved product market fit, 
  • Educators and schools could benefit from some additional income
  • Many of these suggestions are already happening to some extent

For Hire... Will Work for 3D Printer
I would like to demonstrate there is a need for this with a specific example and the offer of my services.

Chris Beyerle is an advocate of EdShelf and was a proponent of Alicia Leonard's #SaveEdShelf, if memory serves me correct, he was one of the first to get involved and help spread the word.

Chris is also one of around 900 educators who gives up AT LEAST an hour of his time to moderate South Carolina EdChat each week, Chris is looking for support to crowd fund a 3D Printer for his students.

Did you spot a trend with this cause? Helping EdShelf, moderating an edchat and looking for support for his students?

Not a single aspect of this work is for himself, he's consistently helping others. 

What's the biggest criticism about ineffective EdTech and their founders? 
I would have said that "Being in it for themselves and for the money," would be a top complaint. Sometimes this is justified, sometimes it's extremely unfair as it differs from company to company.

Furthermore, sales people are criticised a great deal for their practices... this is not the sales people's fault, it's the CEO's or the Sales Directors, and often this is due to the stress of trying to keep the business afloat.

I am trying to do what I can to raise awareness of these issues, and affect change as and where I can, and I would be delighted to help Chris out. So here's an idea...

If any suppliers are willing to contribute towards Chris' fund for a 3D printer I will do everything I can to help in any way I can to provide an ROI for any contributions made.

Regardless of what stage the company is at, I'm sure I will be able to think of ways to help out.

What impact will this 3D printer have on Chris' students? If Susan Bearden's example is anything to go by... I think it will inspire a few doctors and scientists of the future: 4th Graders Made Prospetic Hand with 3D Printer, please share this link to help Holy Trinity Academy win an award for collaboration 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Three Staff, Two Years, One Educator... And 212 Countries?

After finally catching up with educator and master sales person Nikki Robertson and a tweet by Trinket with some impressive stats, this post considers the furture of EdTech sales.

I finally caught up with Nikki Robertson on Skype yesterday and it was a conversation that was worth the wait! When I compared my experiences with sales and researching the roll out of technology with Nikki's advocacy work for companies who produced tools that are fit for purpose in education, our ideas seemed to be in sync.

Our discussion reminded me of a comment by MIT Sloans' Howard Anderson in Phil Broughton's book "Life's a Pitch"

"When an engineer learns how to sell, the engineer-salesman is a higher performing creature than an engineer plus a salesman together... that's not to say that just by giving an engineer a briefcase, you can make him a salesman"

So what happens in EdTech when we have these engineer-sales people work with early partners to achieve product market fit... Then hand the project over to educator-sales people/advocates to discuss the benefits of the product to their peers?

Flipping the Classroom... and the Sales Model
I already know that an educator like Nikki would out strip me on the sales floor if we were tasked with getting traction with the same product, educators are not just flipping the classroom... They are flipping the traditional sales model too.

Nikki told me about Flip Grid which, according to the organisation's website "boosts community and collaboration in classrooms, corporation and at conferences around the world" and was "100% designed and developed at The University of Minnesota LT Media Lab" and since it's launch in late 2012, over 2.5 million videos have been recorded, liked and shared. I wonder how many sales people they have? But I won't be surprised if the answer is 0!

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.34.55 AM

Small Trinket... But a Big Deal!
After my Skype conversation with Nikki I notice a Tweet by one of those other masters of EdTech roll out, Trinket. I had no idea that they had achieved global domination. Check these stats out;
  • Three members of staff
  • Founded in 2013 but the service, as it exists today, was only launched a year ago 
  • Working in schools and colleges in 212 countries

Being totally fascinated with the roll out process of EdTech, and given my exploration of more effective and efficient ways of educators adopting technology, I had to get in touch to find out what the model was!!

Culture... Vision, Experience and Humility
The first observation might be, "Oh this is free, that it explains it! It's easy to roll out if the service is free!" But this isn't it, there are plenty of EdTech products and services that are free and/or have freemium models that don't get this kind of traction.

Based on the response to my email and experience elsewhere I would say that this comes down to the same as other companies I've featured in my blog recently... Culture! Culture! Culture! 

Vision: The first thing on CEO, Elliott Hauser's, Linkedin page is that his vision is "to have code in every classroom." This suggests that this isn't about IPO's or flipping the company, it's about flipping the classroom... but with educators at the centre of the disruption.

Experience: When I wrote to Elliott to ask him about how he has rolled out to 212 countries within a year with only 3 members of staff, he felt the exerience of the team was an important aspect;

"Our team is more experienced than most. Ben and Brian worked together at WebAssign, which has over 200 employees. Brian was CTO there. And, of course, I taught Python at the University of North Carolina. Our combined backgrounds have helped us build the right product in the right way so it can really make an impact in the classroom"

Humility: While I am intregued by the comment about "Building the right product in the right way" and want to know more about this, Elliott follows this statement up with,

"But overall I think this is a key time for coding education" 

What?! Even if this is only one educator in each country, whether it's a free or fee service... I'm sure there are some EdTech startups who would be delighted to have 200 customers in the first year!

So to say, "We got lucky because the timing was right," is a frustratingly humble statement for me to hear as an explanation.

I wanted to know more about the specifics than this, although I could guess the broad strokes because they are recurring too often, and Elliott took the guess work out of it by sharing this post with more detail about how the company views various stakeholders like users and competitors in his post about being in the front line of entrprenurship.

The vision, collaborating with the right early partners, product market fit and core values/culture matters. How else can you explain Trinket's experiences when venture capitalists and investors Rethink EdTech as Dealflow Declines, education doesn't seem to have moved too slow for Trinket.

Flip Grid and Trinket may be the exception to the rule at the moment, but others will follow this model. What are the implications and potential solutions for sales people? Or what about the value of educators and the impact thier word of mouth referrals have on the company's ROI and sales efforts? I'll leave those ponderings for another day.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Lego: Entrepreneurship Education for Kids (Part 2)

Last weekend I detailed my experiences with sharing David Robertson's book "Brick by Brick" with my kids and suggested that LEGO could be used to teach Entrepreneurship Education to Kids.

Over the weekend I read about Cambridge University hiring a Professor of LEGO, to support a Research Centre on play in education, development and learning at the University's Faculty of Education. Along with The Secret World of LEGO on Channel 4, this got me thinking about last weeks post... and how you might go about putting a pilot in place.

In this post I consider two potential pilots - a UK education based one and a US pilot where various startup organisations collaborate. The premise of the idea would be

The Pitch
To develop an entrepreneurship education programme aimed at kids from age 5+ using LEGO’s history and approach to innovation. The hypothesis being that learning how product lines like Ninjago were conceived would be engaging and fun, while teaching kids about entreprenurship. The course could be developed as an after school or weekend club.

Concept and Kids From the LEGO Junior magazine all the way through to Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL), people send pictures of their models to official LEGO publications and unofficial fan sites.

Fans also send their ideas for new sets to LEGO's ideas website in the hope their idea gets developed.

In The Secret World of Lego we heard from Thomas Poulsom, the creator of LEGO birds, about the process from pitch to getting the sets in the shops.

The infrastructure and expertise is there, so it may not take much to expand the development of new LEGO sets to incorporate young entreprenurs and any ideas they have for new toys. Any ideas that were worth exploring could go through the same stages.
Kids come up with new LEGO models,
Could they come up with new business models?
Entreprenurship Education for Kids: Cambridge
When establishing a new pilot proximity and relationships matter. LEGO already have a relationship with Cambridge University through this grant. The university may also be an ideal candidate given their access to experts, incubators and an accreditation body that has an active interest in enterprise.

Experts: Shailendra Vyakarnam is the former Director of Entrepreneurial Learning at the Judge Business School and author of a book designed to educate educators in entreprenurship "Unlocking the Enterpriser Inside," an ideal candidate to help with designing the activities/curriculum.

Space: Judge Business School have Accelerate Cambridge which includes training, mentoring and a shared workspace. Could some kids clubs be ran during quiet periods? Whether after school clubs or at the weekend? Maybe there could be CJBS Ideation weekends for kids?

Accrediatation: If any pilots were a success not only is Oxford Cambridge Review (OCR) one of UK's main awarding bodies, they also have an active interest in entreprenurship education. OCR have sponsored events like StartupEdu weekend and support Ed Invent, a service designed to help educators develop their ideas.

Everything that you would need to explore the merits of the idea in my initial Entreprenurship Education for kids with LEGO post can be found in Cambridge.

A Tale of Two Enterprise Programs
I don't think that it would be an unreasonable comment to wonder if any results for a Cambridge based pilot might be skewed due to issues around socio-economic factors. Conversely, it may be equally reasonable to have reservations around entreprenurship in UK education.

"Since seed funding began in 1995 our portfolio companies have raised over £800m in further investment and grant funding. They now employ over 1,700 people and generate an annual turnover of £170m. More information about current University of Cambridge start-up companies can be found on the Cambridge Cluster map" Cambridge university Enterprise Website

This is after 20 years at a university that is hugely selective, compare this with ESpark's first 2 years;

"[In the first 2 years] More than 1,000 jobs have now been created by firms through its support, almost double the 520 created in the first two years of the business incubator’s existence. The total turnover among firms supported by ESpark surged to more than £41 million at the end of 2014, almost trebling the £15.7m achieved during 2012 and 2013 combined. Investment secured by supported start-ups shot up by £10m, from a total of just over £8m at the end of 2013 to more than £18m at the close of 2014" Economic Impact of Entreprenurial Spark

If this rate of growth continues ESpak comapnies would generate £400 million over the same period. Therefore, it might make sense to have a pilot that is ran by business experts in an area that knows a thing or two about startups.

Entreprenurship Education for Kids: Silicon Valley
This pilot could be established through one of the things that makes Silicon Valley work so well: proximity and a willingness to collaborate.

Experts: This list is by no means exhaustive, but could include:
  • Stanford University: I'm sure I don't need to provide a rationale here, do I?
  • Incubators: It may make sense from a roll out/scaling perspective to include an incubator like WeWork, as they work in a number of cities.
  • Schools: I'm not sure what US schools are doing around entreprenurship education, but I'm sure there would be synergy with schools who are doing entreprenurial things and could provide some valuable input (ie KIPP Bay Area and AltSchool)
  • Circle the Schools: I'm sure that collaboration with companies who are involved with Circle the Schools can add a lot to a project like this.
  •  Online Learning Platforms: Through sheer bootstrapped (ie cash strapped) necessity, startups are massively collaborative.

    I have detailed the potential value that platforms who spark social knowledge have for educators, students and the potential for EdTech startups collaborating in this post about Declara.  
Space: Running an after school or weekend club at a Silicon Valley incubator could see the kids get advice from startup founders who are based at the incubator discussing their experiences.

This would have the added advantage of kids being able to scream excitedly "I know that guy!" when the student sees them on the TV when they are on the news for selling their company to Apple or Google for $XYZ Millions.

Accreditation: Learn by doing. You'll know if you've passed when a grown up startup says

"We'll help you develop this concept and you'll get a share of the profits"

Value Proposition
I can see there being advantages here for all stakeholders, some advantages may be obvious... others may be less obvious.

There is no point detailing these because few (if any) other organistion could engage kids in the way that LEGO could and, as The Secret World of LEGO highlights, the company gets sent thousands of ideas every year. Then there's the fact that achieving this level of collaboration with all stakeholders may be unlikely.

I'll take a leaf out of LEGO Ideas book, I'll include the value proposition in a "LEGO: Entrprenurship Education (Part 3)" post if the demand is there from any of the organisations who would be able to make this happen ;).