Building a $750M Edtech Startup
I think there's a lot left unsaid in this article. Sure, it presents a classic method for launching a successful startup, beginning with a problem statement, working through a solution, validation with Product-Market Fit (PMF) tests, raising $80 million of VC, and finally, obtaining a $750 million valuation. Left unsaid, though, is how you just walk into a meeting with administrators at Rutgers and get them to sign on to a project on the basis of a one-pager. It helps if you worked with Zeta Global, which has a lot of connections to Rutgers. It helps if Zeta emerged from your earlier companies, one of which was an email service provider (named Zustek) founded in 2001 with an Indian engineer, Pradeep Vegunta. Dan Sommer's process, as described in this article, follows a lifetime of developing knowledge, experience and contacts in a particular market; most of the "1:1 conversations with university leaders" were likely informal chats at business events, and when "validation can simply take one single conversation" it's that easy only because you've already done the hard work in the background. Don't be fooled by articles like this. You don't earn a $750 million valuation simply by following this process. It's way more complicated, and most of us will never be in a position to get that foot into that door.
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