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  • Writer's pictureJolie Radunich

3 reasons to embrace celebrity edtech investments

Celebs endorsing consumer goods are a dime a dozen: Charlize Theron in Dior, Mark Wahlberg for AT&T, and Jennifer Aniston with Aveeno to name a few.

Household names like these draw a greater number of eyes to otherwise ordinary acquisitions, partnerships, and investments.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced a $1.1 billion investment in Zearn. This isn't the first investment these philanthropists have made with the math learning platform. To date, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $4.4 million.

Famous people investing in edtech bring more than press for the companies receiving money.

These investments ultimately trickle down to impact our kids’ learning.

Products awareness brings greater learning options

Zearn has entered 1 in 4 elementary school classrooms over the past decade. But no matter how popular edtech products become in academic spaces, few become household names.

Apple. Amazon. Microsoft. Without batting an eye, you and everyone you know can describe the company's logo and purpose.

The same can't be said in edtech outside of Duolingo—and that's thanks to the virality of the company's green owl mascot. Even suggesting Kahoot! as a household name feels like a stretch.

Zearn's press mentions will expose the company to people within and outside the edtech industry who've never heard of the company. This could mean one more school or district signing up for a demo, free trial, or buying the product outright.

It'll also draw awareness to the greater issue the product is trying to solve.

Student pain points get a spotlight

The Gates' investment has a few goals: develop middle school math instruction and allow Zearn to better understand what about their product is working, and what's not.

There are so many education issues to tackle, from improving math and literacy outcomes to social and emotional learning. The sheer amount of concerns can feel overwhelming for people working in the space.

News about a specific acquisition, partnership, or investment like the Gates' may inspire you to:

  • start your own research trail on math learning and intervention

  • subscribe to brands and companies whose info leaves you feeling informed and inspired

  • spark a unique edtech solution or supplement

Having an increased awareness of student issues can lead to more people dedicating more empathy, support, and energy toward solving them.

Seeing celeb investors in 3D inspires others to make a difference

Reading about the Zearn investment reminded me of what Bill and Melinda Gates are passionate about and willing to put their name behind. The duo has already made a historic commitment to improving education. This latest investment reaffirms that.

On the other hand, a football star like Tom Brady is an unlikely celeb entering the space. He's part of the contributing team of financers investing $12.5 million in the virtual classroom startup, Class.

Brady's contribution may make you look at athletes and other entertainers in a different, more positive light. He may also encourage other celebs like him to invest in our kids.

Beyond education venture capital: Celebs are BECOMING edtech

Writing a check isn't the only way celebrities are entering the edtech game. They're also participating in the creation process. Look at MasterClass.

With bite-sized lessons, you can skill-build from celebrities across industries and learn:

  • personal branding from Kris Jenner.

  • modeling fundamentals from Naomi Campbell.

  • investigative journalism from Bob Woodward.

MasterClass achieves all three points highlighted in this post by building brand and issue awareness and using celeb interest to drive others to the space.

How else do you see famous people making an impact on edtech?


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