A very happy and healthy 2014 to all our readers, business partners and supporters. I hope you had the possibility to kick back and relax over the holidays and spent time with your families.
As some might have noticed I stayed away from the bland end-of-year collection posts like our 10 most popular articles of 2013. I’m also committed not to write a post with my top 5 education and technology trends of 2014. If you’re interested in such, I’m sure you know where you can find those.
Instead, I have used the free time a bit more sensibly, I hope at least, trying to reflect on what went well for EDUKWEST in 2013, what didn’t and what I would like to achieve with the team in the new year.
You might remember that from the start in 2009 EDUKWEST has grown entirely organically.
Being among the first education media sites, we had no role model, no one who did it before us and who could help when we had questions or be honest about our not-so-good-ideas. Sure, there were the big general tech blog and also some successful niche ones, but nobody specifically in education and technology. And we all have found out by now that things in education work a bit differently.
On the other hand, we always had a good idea of what we didn’t want to be or who we didn’t want to become. Although it was tempting at times and would certainly have been the easier path. But I don’t like easy things, never did.
So we have tried many things, things that are now the foundation of our reputation, like the video interviews as a centerpiece of EDUKWEST. When EDUKWEST style interviews with startup founders are now being copied by others I apply the principle of imitation as the highest form of flattery. Our opinion and analysis pieces, I think, set us apart from most of the other blogs.
Some things, quite frankly, weren’t the greatest decision I’ve ever taken. Think of the daily edtech news coverage and podcast for instance. It’s not that it was a bad idea per se, I still like it a lot and just watched some of the old episodes with Chris and I, but overall it took away lots of time and was production heavy, and in hindsight it didn’t add that much to make us better or more credible than we already were.
Well, these things happen almost inevitably and our passion for education and what we do made us say never mind, we have learned something here. And a lot of passion it takes when you are still bootstrapping your startup after more than four years.
However, one thing I have personally learned in the past year from people who are now doing something in online education media because they see it as a business is that having a strong editorial and following a clear model will put you in a stronger position, faster.
Our partnership with Macmillan Digital Education has been a first and important step in the process of setting EDUKWEST up as a business that wants and needs to generate revenue at one point, and I would like to thank Matthias Ick and the team at Digital Education for their continued trust in EDUKWEST and our editorial team.
I’ve also been able to work out an arrangement with the team at edcetera that allows me to combine my work for them better with my role as founder of EDUKWEST. In 2014 the articles I write for edcetera will also be published on EDUKWEST. As these articles often include my view on teaching and tutoring, I am convinced they will give readers more insights on where I come from professionally and my background than the purely entrepreneurial posts can do.
So what will change about EDUKWEST in 2014? In my opinion, it’s not so much about changing EDUKWEST but rather to double-down at what we’re very good at.
The 2014 editorial will give interested readers more long form content as well as more analysis and opinion. We will also release our first reports this year.
As edtech startup founders make a big part of our readership we will also provide them with even more value, dedicated, actionable advice and a new mentor section.
The talks with entrepreneurs in education over the years in general and at the EDUKWEST EdTech Drinks meetups in particular made it clear to me that our market is still underserved with events specifically targeted at edtech startups and their investors. We at EDUKWEST strongly believe that the challenges education is facing today and in the future can only be solved with the help and enthusiasm of entrepreneurs who are open to try out new approaches and investors who are willing to take the risk and financially support education entrepreneurs and their ventures worldwide.
This is why I’m personally very excited to get to the next level with our events and announce our first “real-life” EDUKWEST event in London on January 22nd 2014 in partnership with Macmillan Digital Education.
As regular EDUKWEST events will require more commitment from me in terms of time in the new year, I took the decision to make Kay Alexander (twitter) the Managing Editor of EDUKWEST. He has worked with me behind the scenes for years as Creative Director and Producer, and I know he’ll do an excellent job in his new position. As ME Kay Alexander will oversee and coordinate all of EDUKWEST’s editorial activities like he has done in my absence in the past.
With respect to his new startup and time commitment Chris’ new position will be Editor at Large. Alicia and Jenny will continue to be section editors, and I will remain Founding Editor.
I’m also happy to introduce a new team member. Mau Buchler will be our Event Producer in Brazil and work closely together with me introducing EDUKWEST to the edtech startup scene in Sao Paulo. Mau and I have set ourselves an ambitious goal we’re working on already. We want to host our first event in Sao Paulo in the first half of 2014.
Lastly, everybody in the team has proven work independently and responsibly, and I want to thank you wholeheartedly for the great job you’ve done. Without your commitment and passion EDUKWEST wouldn’t be what it is today.