A New MBA Platform Rides A Tidal Wave Of Interest In Ed-Tech

An “EdTech Trek” conversation with Tory Patterson, co-founder and managing director of Owl Ventures. Courtesy image


Most ed-tech companies aren’t much older than a decade. That more than anything, Hailey Carter says, is why the space still hasn’t drawn greater attention from business schools. “If you think about it, all these ed-tech companies arose about 10 years ago, and 10 years ago is very recent,” she says.

It was around then that U.S. government investment in broadband began to really be felt. Rapid change ensued.

“Newsela CEO Matthew Gross came on to talk to us and he was speaking about when he launched Newsela, which was about 10 years ago, only 30% of classrooms had broadband access,” Carter says. “And now because of government influence, which has been really positive in the U.S., that has flipped a huge switch.”

International markets were slower to embrace ed-tech, she says. Covid-19 changed the paradigm globally.

“When it comes to international markets, there was this hesitancy to rely on technology to teach students, but with the pandemic where students and teachers and parents realize that it can be effective if it’s used in a certain way, that further was a catalyst of this acceptance that students can learn this way and it actually can be very effective if it’s personalized and if it’s done in a very thoughtful manner. There’s just a lot more activity in the market.”


Carter says there have been advantages to studying at the Kellogg School as she has sought to forge a path in ed-tech, beginning with the school’s Education Club.

“Kellogg as a community is so collaborative,” she says. “And so I think my friends and the Education Club, they’ve gone above and beyond, and Kellogg does provide resources there. And that kind of gave me the pedestal to think through this idea and to work with my team and trying to decide if this was even of interest.”

It was through a professor that Carter connected with her new employer, Owl Ventures, a Bay Area ed-tech venture capital firm. Kellogg offers in-term, four-credit internships, and “that was the huge reason why I even got into Owl Ventures because I was able to do my Owl Ventures internship through an independent study with a professor. And without that, I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to dedicate as much time to it as I did. And so who knows if I would be entering full-time and would’ve worked over the summer and had that opportunity to work in ed-tech pretty much all last year.

“And when I reach out to professors to ask, to kind of be that liaison and independent study professor supporter, they always respond yes. Whether that’s a professor in the venture capital finance industry or one who actually works at a VC now. So the professors are very supportive, which I very much appreciate.”


Carter and EdTech MBA are entering the space at just the right time. Already — like the global community of BIPOC MBA investors VC Unleashed — it is one of the largest active, student-led intra-school industry organizations in the world. The next step is the launch of an MBA fellowship, which Carter hopes to have finalized by the end of summer.

“Students will apply to the EdTech MBA community fellowship,” she says, “So many of these companies want MBA and graduate student talent, and so many MBA and graduate programs have an opportunity where you can do an internship for class credit. But the problem is, they don’t exist for ed-tech companies right now because it’s just not the career center’s priorities. And I think there’s just a need that has not been met. So hopefully our fellowship will meet that need. The plan is to do the first cohort in September.”

Meanwhile, Carter’s main focus as she leaves Kellogg this month is EdTech MBA’s primary mission: becoming a full-time recruiting platform to make entry into ed-tech more accessible to those with interest in the space but little or no prior experience.

“The response already has been remarkable,” she says. “And I think with the whole incoming class coming in, hopefully we’ll have a huge uptick there, and then will be our first year of alumni EdTech MBA community members. So we just brought on a leadership team that will take charge of the alumni relations and all my partnerships. We’ll see what exactly that will look like, but hopefully there will be lots of mentorship opportunities in the future.”

Learn more about EdTech MBA here

Members of EdTech MBA attend an “Upskilling through VR” panel with Praxis Labs, STRIVR, and Osso VR Founders and CEOs Elise Smith, Derek Belch, and Justin Barad. Courtesy image


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