Jack Russo is a Chicago-based tech entrepreneur who established TabletTeach, LLC, a K-8 educational learning company. In 2013, he was challenged with what product concept to use to introduce his product on the market. Russo envisioned TabletTeach as an entirely digital offering as he believed that digital platforms are much more flexible and adaptable. Of the four different product concepts, which should Russo choose and why?
Mohanbir Sawhney and John Miniati
Harvard Business Review (KEL900-PDF-ENG)
May 29, 2015
Case questions answered:
- Based on all of the data provided in the case, what does your market opportunity analysis/opportunity hypothesis look like?
- What are the opportunities/pros and risks/cons of each product? You may want to consider a SWOT analysis of each product concept.
- Based on your analysis, which product would you choose and why?
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TabletTeach: Opportunity Analysis for a New Educational Technology Product Case Answers
Situation Analysis – TabletTeach
In 2013, primary education in the United States was on the cusp of change. The federal government had created a new curriculum dubbed “Common Core,” new educational technologies were emerging, and school budgets were stretched thin. Jack Russo had worked for an educational software firm for years and decided his new company, TabletTeach, would address these issues.
The means of education in the United States had gone unchanged for decades. Physical textbooks were primarily used for instruction. The market for educational products was almost $9 billion, and the big 3 textbook manufacturers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson) had a large portion of the business.
State laws governing how money could be spent for educational resources typically mandated physical media only. However, twenty states have now passed laws allowing for those funds to be used to purchase digital media.
Because of their position in the market, the big three had little impetus to change or innovate, leaving them vulnerable to new entrants.
As new technologies emerged, new competitors were entering the market. Large tech firms like Amazon, Apple, and Google were not only creating new hardware solutions like tablets and e-readers but were also developing education software as well.
The proliferation and penetration of high-speed internet access and increased storage capabilities allowed companies to develop educational applications based on more media-rich lesson plans that included video and interactivity.
There was also an abundance of freely offered materials and applications available. The once staunch barrier to entry into the educational market had begun to erode.
The Problem and Opportunity
Russo envisioned TabletTeach as an entirely digital offering. Digital platforms are much more flexible and adaptable. With the introduction of the Common Core, many education systems and teachers were still unsure how to proceed.
TabletTeach would be able to adapt to any trends, or customer needs while providing a powerful user experience. Creating a digital product would also mean having a high, up-front fixed cost but lower marginal costs.
If TabletTeach could achieve large enough market penetration, it could provide a cheaper alternative for struggling school systems. The question, though, was who to target.
The potential customer base was segmented into teachers, parents, and students. These end users all had varying needs, but teachers and parents specifically would require a learning tool that could provide individualized teaching and assessment.
A fluid pace that could adapt to students’ performance and a focus on the new Common Core curriculum to ensure students were prepared.
Students’ responses to the research focused more on teamwork and working in groups. Students wanted the ability to help others, feel a part of a group, and have fun. TabletTeach would need to…
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