Exploring Target Markets And Business Models In EdTech

Exploring EdTech Markets And Business Models
Summary: This article explores the various target markets and business models for EdTech, providing insights and strategies for entrepreneurs.

EdTech: Top 5 Target Markets And 7 Popular Business Models

Education technology has grown tremendously in recent years, driven by technological advancements and the growing demand for accessible, personalized, and effective learning solutions. According to HolonIQ research, expenditure for EdTech from governments, companies, and consumers will reach $7.3T by 2025. Unsurprisingly, entrepreneurs and start-up founders are eager to enter and capitalize on its potential. However, navigating the EdTech market can be challenging, with various target audiences, business models, and revenue streams to consider. To succeed in this competitive space, founders must carefully evaluate their target audience and develop a sustainable business model that meets their needs and preferences.

In this article, I will explore the various target markets and business models for EdTech and provide insights and strategies for entrepreneurs and start-up founders looking to enter this space. Let's get started.

Top 5 Target Markets In The EdTech Industry

One of the most critical factors in developing a successful EdTech start-up is identifying the right target market. With such a vast and diverse range of audiences, it's essential to understand your target audience's needs and preferences to create a product or service that resonates with them. Let’s see the largest target audiences in education.

1. K-12 Education

This market includes pre-K to 12th-grade students, teachers, parents, and educational institutions. This market is essential to the EdTech industry, with unique needs for interactive and personalized learning experiences. Successful EdTech companies in this segment combine technology, data analytics, and pedagogy to provide effective learning experiences and enable teachers to track student progress.

2. Higher Education

This market includes individuals pursuing or completing post-secondary education and seeking further knowledge through advanced degrees, certifications, or continuing education. This market comprises of undergraduate and graduate students and working professionals upskilling or transitioning to new careers. They increasingly use online platforms and technology tools such as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), Learning Management Systems, and virtual classrooms. EdTech companies must understand their evolving needs and preferences and develop innovative solutions to help them achieve their educational and career goals.

3. Professional Development

This market includes working professionals seeking to upgrade or learn new skills to advance their careers. They are willing to invest time and money in their professional development and require flexible and convenient learning solutions that can be delivered online or in person. The professional development segment includes professionals from various industries and career stages and presents a significant growth opportunity for EdTech start-ups.

4. Corporate Training

This market includes Learning and Development offered to employees within a company or organization to improve specific skills and knowledge necessary for job functions. It includes various activities such as workshops, seminars, online courses, and on-the-job training. The aim is to enhance employee productivity, job satisfaction, and company performance. In the EdTech market, the customer segment for corporate training includes businesses of all sizes seeking effective and scalable solutions to provide employees with ongoing Learning and Development opportunities.

5. Language Learning

This market provides education and tools for individuals who want to learn a new language, from beginners to advanced learners. EdTech companies offer online courses, language apps, tutoring services, language exchange platforms, and immersion programs to meet the growing demand for language skills in today's globalized economy. Entrepreneurs and start-up founders can develop innovative language-learning products to capitalize on this market and meet the needs of language learners.

Top 7 Business Models In The EdTech Industry

Once you've identified your target market, the next critical step in building a successful EdTech start-up is choosing the right business model. In this section, we'll explore the most popular business models in the EdTech industry, discussing their strengths, weaknesses, and usage examples.

1. Freemium Model

Freemium is a business model where a company offers a basic, free version of its product or service while charging for premium features or upgrades. In the EdTech market, this means providing a limited version of an educational platform or software for free while charging for additional features or services.


  • It can attract a large user base by offering a low barrier to entry.
  • It allows customers to try the product before committing to paying for premium features.
  • It can provide a recurring revenue stream from customers who upgrade to premium features.


  • It can be difficult to convert free users into paying customers.
  • The company may need to invest heavily in customer acquisition to maintain growth.
  • The quality of the free version may be lower than the premium version, leading to dissatisfaction among users.


  • Duolingo, a language learning platform, offers a free limited version of their app but charges for the Super version with additional features.
  • Kahoot!, a quiz-based learning platform, offers a free version with limited features and quizzes but charges for additional quizzes and customization options.

2. Subscription Model

Subscription is a business model where customers pay a recurring fee, typically monthly or annual, to access a product or service. In the EdTech market, this means charging users a subscription fee to access educational content or services.


  • It provides a predictable revenue stream and can generate long-term customer relationships.
  • It can be easier to scale and grow the business than other models.
  • It allows the company to continually improve and update the product or service for subscribers.


  • Acquiring and retaining subscribers may be challenging without offering unique or high-quality content.
  • The pricing may be a barrier to entry for some potential customers.
  • There may be competition from free or low-cost alternatives.


  • Coursera, an online learning platform, charges a monthly or annual subscription fee to access courses and certifications from top universities.
  • MasterClass, a platform featuring celebrity-led courses, charges an annual subscription fee for access to its content.

3. Pay-Per-Use Model

Pay-per-use is a business model where customers pay for each use or session of a product or service. In the EdTech market, this means charging users for each course, lesson, or tutoring session.


  • It provides flexibility for customers who may not want to commit to a subscription or pay for features they do not use.
  • It can be a lower barrier to entry for potential customers who may not be able to afford a subscription or high upfront costs.
  • The revenue is directly tied to usage, which can be a more accurate reflection of the value provided to customers.


  • It may not provide a predictable revenue stream and can be more difficult to scale than other models.
  • The cost of individual sessions may deter customers from using the product or service frequently.
  • The transactional nature of pay-per-use can lead to a less-engaged customer base.


  • Chegg, an online textbook rental and homework help service, charges users for each textbook rental or tutoring session.
  • Preply, an online language tutoring platform, charges users for each tutoring session.

4. Marketplace

Marketplace is a business model where a company creates a platform for buyers and sellers to transact goods or services. In the EdTech market, this means creating a platform for educators or experts to sell educational content or services to students or learners.


  • It can provide a scalable business model with low overhead costs.
  • It can generate revenue through commissions or transaction fees.


  • The quality of the educational content or services may vary depending on the individual sellers.
  • The company may compete with other marketplaces for buyers and sellers.
  • The company may manage disputes or issues between buyers and sellers.


  • Udemy, an online learning marketplace, allows instructors to create and sell courses to students worldwide.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers, a marketplace for educational resources, allows educators to sell lesson plans, worksheets, and other educational materials to other teachers.

5. Partnership Model

Partnership is a business model where a company forms a strategic partnership with another company to provide a product or service. In the EdTech market, this means partnering with another company or organization to offer educational content or services.


  • It can provide access to new customer segments and markets.
  • It can allow the company to leverage the expertise and resources of the partner organization.
  • It can lead to increased brand recognition and credibility.


  • It may require significant time and resources to establish and maintain partnerships.
  • The company may have limited control over the quality and delivery of the product or service provided through the partnership.
  • The company may be competing with the partner organization for market share.


  • Pearson, a publishing and education services company, has partnerships with numerous colleges and universities to provide online course materials and resources.
  • LinkedIn Learning, an online learning platform, partners with companies like Microsoft and Adobe to offer courses and certifications in their respective software products.

6. Sponsorship And Grants

Sponsorship and grant funding is a business model where a company or organization receives financial support from sponsors or grant-giving organizations to provide educational content or services.


  • It can provide a significant amount of funding without the need to generate revenue from customers.
  • It can increase the visibility and reach of the company through association with the sponsoring organization.
  • It can allow the company to focus on the quality and impact of its educational content or services without prioritizing revenue generation.


  • The company may be limited in its ability to innovate or evolve its product or service due to restrictions from the sponsoring organization.
  • The company may be competing with other organizations for limited grant funding.
  • The company may be required to demonstrate a certain level of impact or outcomes to maintain funding.


  • Code.org, a non-profit organization that provides computer science education, receives funding from companies like Microsoft and Amazon to support their mission.
  • Khan Academy, a non-profit organization that offers free online courses in various subjects, from K-12 Math and Science to college-level Economics and Finance, receives funding from foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google.

7. Ad-Based Model

Ad-based is a business model where a company offers a product or service for free to users but generates revenue through advertising. In the EdTech market, this means providing educational content or services for free while displaying advertisements to users.


  • It provides a low barrier to entry for users who may not want to pay for educational content or services.
  • It can generate a significant amount of revenue through targeted advertising.
  • It allows the company to offer a high-quality product or service for free.


  • Advertisements may distract or annoy users, leading to a poor User Experience.
  • The quality of the content may be negatively impacted by the need to generate revenue through advertising.
  • Ad-based revenue can be unpredictable and may fluctuate based on market conditions.


  • Quizlet, a study tool platform, has effectively combined the ads-based business model with a subscription model.
  • Duolingo, a language learning platform, also has a combined business model with advertising and subscription revenue streams.


Choosing the right market and business model is crucial for success when starting a new venture. Entrepreneurs and start-up founders should carefully evaluate markets based on size, growth potential, and competitive landscape. Once a target market is selected, selecting the appropriate business model is also critical. Entrepreneurs should consider the strengths and weaknesses of each business model and determine which one aligns with their product or service and target audience. It's also important to note that the provided list of business models is not exhaustive. Entrepreneurs should be open to considering new and creative business models that may be better suited for their specific product or service. A mix of different business models may be the most effective approach for some start-ups.