Barbara Russell asserted that we are not producing new entrepreneurs in the education market at her acceptance speech last week at the AEP Awards.
I respectfully disagree with her on this. Today the entrepreneurs are not in the traditional supplemental print business that Options was in, they are all in the technology arena. Some examples:
Bill Kelly – Learning.com
Randy Wilhelm – NetTrekker
Sandy Fivecoat – We Are Teachers
Larry Berger – Wireless Generation
Jonathan Harber – SchoolNet
Dave McCool – Muzzy Lane
Ntiedo Etuk – Tabula Digita
Jim Bower – Whyville
Mark Johnson – National Transcript Center
All of these entrepreneurs are building vibrant and interesting companies that are pushing the envelope across the education market. They share the traits she outlined in her talk. There are dozens more that I could have mentioned.
In fact – if you need solid evidence that technology is at an inflection point this is it. The old-line companies are consolidating the print business as it commoditizes while the entrepreneurs are drilling new wells of value using technology and services.
Barbara closed her talk by making much the same point. She talked about where she sees the business going and mentioned two things in particular that are going to shape our industry:
Rapid development of customized products. She sees a world of 2 week turnarounds on 4 color, bound, customized products. This is automation of the back end of the business.
Ubiquitous access due to low cost laptop programs will make technology a regular part of how we teach in the classroom.
As I have outlined in other posts (Technology Substitution, Information Overload) I believe we are in for a period of wrenching change in Education Publishing. I’m bullish about the industry’s long-term future, there are lots of good ideas getting traction and plenty of entrepreneurs stepping up to make them real.
Disclosure – We Are Teachers, Whyville, and National Transcript Center have been or are currently clients.