Teachers love tools. There are entire blogs dedicated to sharing the latest app or platform like Richard Byrne’s FreeTech4Teachers or Edudemic that give teachers their daily fix and the choice is growing everyday.
Teachers are also very quick in finding ways to make use of services that weren’t created for educational use in the first place which makes this group a very interesting one for startups to target. Sure, they might not spend as much as regular internet customers, yet there is a figure that teachers spend around $480 each year for services out of their own pocket.
Also, getting enough teachers onboard your service might lead to a contract with a school or entire district. That’s why many education startups are still going the freemium way. Get as many teachers hooked for free, then sell a big licence package with extra features.
Now Pinterest, one of the fastest growing social networks, is officially throwing its hat into the education arena. To me, this has clearly something to do with the success of Learnist which often and regularly has been titled to be the Pinterest for Education.
With a huge funding round led by Discovery and the sale of the Grockit brand to Kaplan, Learnist has now enough runway to figure out a viable business model while growing their education network. But it also seems as if Farbood Nivi is aiming to eat away on Pinterest’s market by offering brands the possibility to automatically add their content on Learnist through RSS feeds.
So it seems logical that Pinterest is now trying to get a share of Learnist’s audience by introducing “Teachers on Pinterest”. According to TechCrunch the new hub already quietly launched a few weeks ago and was able to get over 1300 users without any advertisement. This again shows how teachers are scouting the web for new tools to use in school.
Pinterest also teamed up with Edutopia to build an education focused community on the platform, another sign that Pinterest is taking this effort quite seriously. While Learnist is more about creating small courses or lessons and targets lifelong learners, Teachers on Pinterest is targeted at school teachers who share lesson plans, classroom decorating ideas and other topics.
According to the Pinterest blog there are over 500.000 education related ideas pinned everyday on the platform and an annual survey by Edutopia found that Pinterest is in the top five of professional development websites for teachers.
While right now both platforms are growing in different verticals of the same market, it is obvious to me that sooner or later Pinterest and Learnist are going to battle over market share. At that point it will be decisive which startup has the better business model.