How to Build an Online Education Startup?

Table of Contents

  1. Why Start Edtech Startup Now
  2. Set Yourself a Direction Where to Move With the Idea
  3. Market Research
  4. Product Concept
  5. Monetization
  6. Education Startup Funding
  7. MVP of a social app for knowledge sharing from experts
  8. Where Can I Find an E-learning Development Company?

Why Start Edtech Startup Now

If you are searching for the answer to “how to start an ed tech startup”, most probably you have the feeling that there was no better time for this than now. Educational institutions - private and public - are actively introducing distance learning, the number of online schools is growing, people care for self-education for building their career and promotion.

To prove it with figures, in 2019, the market size of e-learning surpassed USD 200 billion, with the industry share of e-learning (online e-learning, LMS, mobile e-learning, rapid e-learning, virtual classroom, and much more) is anticipated to grow at 8% CAGR between 2020 to 2026. The majority of the market belongs to key industry players, but there’s always space for self-made entrepreneurs and edtech startups Unicorns.

EdTech TOP Companies

Even if you have no plans to go globally and you just have an idea for your local market, there are millions of great opportunities to find your niche and succeed. Let’s learn how to do it step by step.

Set Yourself a Direction Where to Move With the Idea

Let’s start with who you are and what you want, as all the other steps depend on this. Answer in writing a scope of questions to set yourself a direction.

What problem is your edtech business/solution solving?

Describe why your solution will be helpful.

What will you have that the competitors don’t?

Define what’s the main reason why people should use it.

Who will use it?

Define the profile of the user your app targets. The country, language, gender, age, background, education level, knowledge area, or maybe even a specific education institution they belong to. Try to make it as detailed as you can.

How to make it profitable?

How will you be interested in the app? What exactly do they pay for?

What kind of solution do you need - web or app?

And here you are at the crossroad of deciding whether to start with a web application or a mobile application. If your goals are to deliver content and establish a broad presence that can be easily maintained, shared between users, and found on search engines, then a mobile-friendly responsive website is a fine choice.

If your goal is to provide a user experience that needs access to a user's phone storage and native functions (GPS, camera, push notifications, offline access, etc.) you’d better opt for a mobile app. All these technical aspects may be complicated for perception and to decide for sure it can be helpful to consult the app development company.

Related article: Does My Business Really Need a Mobile App?

Market Research

The first step of starting an elearning business is to find the niche in your market, investigate what’s popular in it and what it lacks.

One of the ways is to do competitive research. Look at the competitors in your region and analyze their apps: what they’ve got in common, what distinguishes them from each other, how they implement their ideas, what’s their hook for users (a unique thing you give), what’s the monetization models.

E-learning market research

Where to find edtech companies for analysis? If your choice is to build a web solution (website, portal, progressive web apps, etc.), then go and Google it! In case you’ve decided to start with a mobile app, play with the table, adjusting your country.

Top Education Apps

After you filled the comparative table and saw the picture, you can move further to the product concept creation.

Product Concept

The main idea of building a product concept is to create a structured answer to the question: “what solution do I want exactly” and send it to app developers who will help you with the tech part of building your app.

The product concept must contain the core idea of your app without which it can’t execute its functions. In the startup world, it is called a minimum viable product (MVP). After you also decide on the features that will make your app special among others. Include these things in your product concept doc before rushing to elearning app developers:

  • Specify, describe, expand in more detail the purpose of your app
  • Describe the target audience of the app (who is your user, how old is he or she, what is his/her background).
  • How users are going to utilize the application (do they need a permanent Internet connection, camera, GPS, etc.)
  • Specify the ways you are going to monetize your product.

Related article: What is a Minimum Viable Product and How to Build an MVP for Your Startup


Here’s the list of the most common of them depending on the solution type.

For Apps

  • Purchase app from the app store - users pay for a download
  • In-app advertising - earn revenue for showing third-party ads within their mobile applications
  • Freemium - open extra features for those who want them
  • In-app purchases - encourage users to buy additional content, in-app currencies, customization options, etc.
  • Subscriptions - provide access for prepaid conditions- time, amount of users, etc.
  • Data licensing - sell users behavior aggregated non-personalized data
  • Sponsorships - find sponsors and gain revenue from advertising them in your app.

For Online Learning Platforms, Course Marketplaces, SaaS, etc.

  • Subscriptions
  • Payment per a course
  • Freemium
  • Advertising
  • Sponsorship.

Mind that you can combine them and test what works better.

Education Startup Funding

Some startuppers have their own project start budget, others only partially or lack some amounts. In case you need fundraising for your education startup, you can consider an option of finding an e learning business angel or venture fund online through investment platforms like:

  • AngelList
  • Gust
  • Wefunder
  • SeedInvest
  • StartEngine
  • Republic and many other options.
Education start-up funding e-learning start-up funding

MVP of a social app for knowledge sharing from experts

Building an app from the ground doesn't need to be a long and costly way. You can choose to start with the product that consists of the core features (a Minimum Viable Product), and then proceed with its further development. The MVP provides the possibility for users to find relevant information in different spheres from competent people who know a lot in this particular sphere (with proven experience and knowledge). There are 2 roles - users seeking information, and users that are ready to provide it. User seekers have the opportunity to give their feedback on the quality of answers from different knowledge providers.






Email Sign-up, Socials sign-up, Log In and Verification, Log Out

2-3 weeks

Up to $8,400

User Profile and Community Module

Edit Profile Info

Data Import From LinkedIn

Experience Details and Proof (certificates) 



List of Knowledge Providers 


Form for Connect with an expert

1-2 months

Up to $14,000

Messages and Credits


New messages notification

Attach files 

Conversation history

Reply via email 

Credits Dashboard

Balance history

Referrals list

Send email invite

Send email invite 

Connections List

1 month

Up to $7,500

Groups Module, Group Administrator Module

List of groups with preview 

Search the group 

Group Details

Request to Join Group

Group Members List

Leave Group

Create Group (Request Creation) 

Group Details Page

Members Details

Member Activity


Membership Request

Assign a Role (popup)

Kick User (popup)

Buy Credits (popup)

Make User and Admin

1 months

Up to $8,500

Admin Features

Individual User Management

Individual User Management - Activate/deactivate buttons

Individual User Management - Credit Adjustment

Group Management - create new group button

Group Management - edit button

Individual User Stats

Individual User Stats - export table

Individual User Stats - messages tracking

Connection Activity

Connection Activity - export table

Group membership - input group code

Group membership - export table

2 weeks

Up to $3,000


4 - 5 months


Where Can I Find an E-learning Development Company?

Finding a development company for your startup is not a big deal today, as there are lots of them in the market - just open a listing like GoodFirms, for example. The main part is to make the right choice. Find the good tips and points to check:

  • Company’s portfolio in education domain - check the variety, the size of projects, the number of projects, do they still exist or gone, have they ever appeared in the market)
  • Company’s awards and achievements in edtech development
  • Using Linkedin Free Premium Version you can spy on how’s company feeling - for instance, preliminary assess the senioritis of the team

You can also investigate reviews on Clutch, paying special attention to what the clients admit about the process of collaboration - communication, command of English, team availability, speed of problem solving and things like that.

When you’ve decided on the education app development company, send a project estimate request containing your initial Product Concept. It will help the development team assess the preliminary budget more accurately.

Sometimes, a vendor can suggest you start with a Discovery Phase for big-scale projects. It’s short-term activities that are fulfilled by a Business Analyst and the development team to investigate the requirements and details of the project.

The Discovery Phase runs before development and its deliverables are:

  • Elaborated, finalized, and confirmed project Vision and Scope Document (the document identifies the project as the result - ultimate purpose and form of the system as well as what’s in and what’s out for the project)
  • MVP scope (what features will be included in the first priority and what will go to the next releases) and backlog (is the list of epics - functional parts of the system- and user stories - detailed requirements for developing functionality with business value)
  • UX/UI concept (what your solution will look like and feel like)
  • Project Roadmap and release plan (project stages, key dates, deadlines, list of system documentation, etc.)
  • Plan of communication and collaboration with all the involved parties, taking into account their availability, importance, and responsibility.
  • Backlog (including user stories, with acceptance criteria and designs, based on clear and confirmed requirements) is built for the very first sprints. Sprint is a time interval in which a piece of functionality is developed, ready for production.

Requirements that won't be elaborated and finalized will be worked on after development is started. In other words, the discovery phase will continue, while the team is building a solution. Backlog is ongoingly prepared for further development.


After the successful launch, a startup needs to struggle for success really hard. What you’ll need further are activities to develop your product, business, and service. In the case of an education mobile app, you’ll need to work hard on the app store optimization(ASO) and app user satisfaction by adding new features and altering your app after A/B tests. In case you decide to create a web solution, you’ll need to create or buy qualitative courses, partner with universities and lectors, spend on marketing, online promotion, and SEO. Anyway, at least now you’ve got an overall notion of how to start an education startup.