Innovative Education Startup Chalks Up $5 Million In Sales
Education doesn’t end with a degree. It’s a lifelong process. And, no, I didn’t plagiarize that little bit of wisdom from the website I’m about to tell you about…Although I might sell it to them.
Lessons for Sale
TeachersPayTeachers is an online marketplace for teacher resources. Ranging from free to $15, teachers can sell or purchase downloadable educational materials, hard goods, and used resources. Pre-K, homeschool, higher education–it’s all available, covering an extensive range of subject matters. You can find all of these items and more at TpT:
- Lesson Plans
- White Board Activities
- Novel Studies
TpT’s mission is to “make teachers lives easier by bringing together those who create curricula with those who are seeking fresh new approaches in the classroom.”
Founder Paul Edelman knows firsthand about the difficulties of being an educator. He taught in New York City public schools for four years before starting his company. He knows how hard teachers work after hours making lesson plans. And he’s found a creative, lucrative way to compensate teachers for their extra efforts as well as keep their knowledge in circulation.
Edelman’s taken a rather interesting path as a business leader as well. TeachersPayTeachers launched in 2006. They were such a hit that Scholastic snatched the company up the first year. Initially, sales were driven by teachers buying materials directly, sometimes being reimbursed by schools. When the economy belly-flopped in 2008, sales dropped below Scholastic’s expectations.
Edelman believed in his venture though, and bought the company back in 2009. Sometimes it pays to revisit or hold on to good ideas. The site has grown annually 300% since then. Due to growing demand, as of last May, schools now have the option to buy several lesson plans for their teachers.
Approximately 30,000 new users join every month. This gives TpT a total of more than 500,000 users, of which roughly 10,000 are active sellers. To date, TpT has notched over $5 million in sales.
Teachers Can’t Live on Apples Alone
Just how much supplemental income can teachers earn? Deanna Jump, a kindergarten teacher from Georgia, set a lofty bar. She’s earned over $700,000 selling her lesson plans. At least four more teachers have crossed the $100,000 dollar mark, and many others have surged beyond $30,000.
The arrangement is a boon to everyone involved. Experienced teachers earn money for their valuable knowledge, new teachers acquire the means to improve their services, and the students win with better-equipped educators.
Adventure capitalist Fred Wilson called for an Internet driven overhaul of our country’s educational system in his provocative blog Hacking Education, in 2008. TpT circumventing traditional publishers of educational materials is just one example of how tech companies can improve the marketplace of ideas. TpT harnessing the powers of Pinterest and Facebook to draw traffic to their site is another. We all still have so much to learn.