Can #MiamiTech become an education technology hub?

By Guest Writer

Elliot Grossbard

“It has never been a better time to be in education. It has also never been a worse time to be in education” is how Tony Wan, Managing Editor of EdSurge, began his first entry of 2021 on its EdTech information resource site and online community.

Elliot Grossbard

Public school districts face budget cuts from decreased taxes, on top of new costs to upgrade facilities with COVID protocols. Burnout is real among educators, with many contemplating leaving their profession.

On the other side of the ecosystem, business has never been better for education technology companies seeing record growth. Global EdTech saw $16.1B invested in 2020, and estimated EdTech global spending is expected to reach $404B in 2025.

The year ended on a high for EdTech funding with Learn Capital, an education-focused venture capital fund, filing paperwork that indicated it closed $132 million in capital. SoftBank, which has offices in Miami and supports #MiamiTech’s elevation, may see Europe’s first major tech IPO of 2021 with the SoftBank-backed Kahoot, which they invested $215 million in October for a 9.7% stake. Softbank Group Intl CEO Marcelo Claure calls Miami and NY home and is Chairman of Miami’s professional soccer club Inter Miami CF.

Where does #MiamiTech fit in in the EdTech opportunity?

Let us begin by looking at some of the 40+ EdTech startups in Miami.

HeroK12 is cloud-based student behavior management software for schools and districts that has raised $150M, and OpenEnglish - an online English language learning school with more than 100,000 students in the Spanish speaking world -  has raised $124.5M, according to Crunchbase.

Just today, Ironhack, which offers coding and UX/UI design bootcamps and trainings in Miami and around the world, announced it raised a $20M round. ClassWallet, which provides a spending management platform for teachers, employees, and parents who make day-to-day purchases but typically are not provided with purchase cards, has raised $6.8M. Then comes Caribu, a video calling and storytelling application for children and families that raised $5M, of which I recently mentioned to our children’s grandparents that we are going to be having a “set up and install” call this weekend. Founder Maxeme Tuchman’s creation has brought grandparents and children together at a time when the pandemic has made them feel even further away.

But that is as far as I got for Miami-based companies that have raised more than $1M. With fresh attitude, great energy, ability to fund Miami startups, create jobs, and give Silicon Valley guidance and leadership, EdTech is primed for a bigger imprint in south.

 It’s simple math really. A large amount of EdTech startups are based on the West Coast. Zoom, Coursera, Chegg, Udemy, Udacity, and Degreed are all based in California. There are growing number of venture capitalists now in Miami.

It just makes sense.

Mayor Frances Suarez recently mentioned that the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County produce the most African-American and Hispanic engineers in the country, yet they are at great risk in the future. “76% of Blacks and 62% of Hispanics could get shut out or be underprepared for 86% of the jobs in the United States by the year 2045,” Suarez said.

An EdTech Sandbox in Miami not only can make an impact directly here, but as the Miami community is an open and welcoming city, Latin America can also play a big part in the overall ecosystem.

With Miami Dade College the country’s largest community college, FIU’s international appeal, and the University of Miami’s national recognition rounds up what could be an opportunity that comes around only once in a few decades if at all.

I call upon my fellow EdTech startups from New York, Austin, California and everywhere else to come visit and see what is going on here. ElevateU was founded in Tempe, Arizona “ages” ago in 2019 B.C. (Before COVID), however, our focus has shifted towards #MiamiTech and we’re looking to be the first #EdTech in 2021 to take root in the Miami Community, MY Community, Our Community.

Elliot Grossbard is the VP of Growth at ElevateU, a Publisher of AI Textbooks and E-Learning Sandbox that helps personalize learning for higher education. He’s been living in Miami since 1994 and decided to make it permanent for his family in ’96 based on the feeling of community and mix of people.

Refresh Miami welcomes guest posts. E-mail Nancy Dahlberg at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com with your idea.