The story of Edrolo – StartupSmart

The three founders of Edrolo – Ben, Jeremy and Duncan – left jobs at Google and Goldman Sachs to pursue their passion. They believed that great teachers should reach audiences of tens of thousands of students, not the few that could cram into a single classroom. And that kids wanted to watch video on their mobile devices not read textbooks that weighed kilos.


Edrolo was unique to Startmate in that all three founders were non-technical. While we don’t have a hard and fast rule, it is a true exception that a team without technical founders will be a match for Startmate. Beyond the quality of Ben, Jeremy and Duncan as you’ll see shine through in the video below, there were two very powerful insights.


The first is that the explosion of online educational video like that published on Khan Academy and a host of other wonderful resources is great, but unfortunately it isn’t very specific to the curriculum of high school students. As much as students could learn about general concepts, they want help with the specific thing they are working on at school that week and they want everything very highly tailored around their curriculum.


The second is that great teachers are paid $60,000 and horrible teachers are paid the same. Not only that, but the impact of a great teacher is limited to the few classes of students they are able to teach each year. How can we reward rockstar teachers so that they could be paid millions and reach every student in the state or country?


Another aspect of Startmate that is a mess but that works out as a great benefit is that half of the teams fail within six months and nearly 40% of teams have at least one founder leave within a year. Those startups that fail and those teams that have founders leave make a wonderful set of people for the other teams to recruit from. They have been bonded by an intense shared experience and have built trust with one another.


So it was that Nathan McGuiness, originally a founder of Goodcall, found a better fit with the Edrolo team and joined as head of engineering shortly after the team completed Startmate. Nathan has brought balance to the company and they were also able to hire several more engineers after raising some additional capital.


Edrolo have made a lot of progress since Startmate and now students and schools in countries around the world pay to access the charisma and knowledge of rockstar teachers. We filmed a short documentary with Ben and Duncan, and we hope you enjoy it.


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