When we started Digital Adventures 3 years ago, we had a vision for how we would teach kids to build with technology so that they could one day change the world! Since, that time, we have built out a curriculum leveraging best-in-class hardware & software programs, launched purposely-designed learning studios, hired engaging instructors, built a data-driven back-end technology platform focused on learning outcomes, and worked with more than 1,000 students.
Over time, competitors have entered the marketplace and presented different options for customers. There are 5 reasons why we love that our competitors have joined us in the industry focusing on teaching kids how to build with technology.
1. Validates the market
One of the main reasons why Digital Adventures was started is because one of our co-founders couldn’t find any options for his kids to learn how to build with technology. There were some online options that he investigated but ultimately he didn’t believe that was representative of how kids learn best. After several conversations, a passionate came together and hypothesized that an instructor-led, in-studio experience using leading hardware and software platforms would resonate with students.
Since we launched, other learning studios have opened which helped us to see that we weren’t alone and that retail wasn’t dead.
However, if we take a step back and look at the development of the industry on a broader scale, there isn’t yet a scalable solution in place for teaching kids to code like there is in the supplemental education space. Businesses like Mathnasium (900 locations) and Kumon (26,000 locations) have worked tirelessly over decades to build a solution for students who need extra help with their core subjects like math and reading.
Digital Adventures along with our competitors are betting that customers in communities all across the country and the globe will seek a solution that enables their kids to learn how to build with technology.
If mechanical engineering, civil engineering, software development, electrical engineering, and others are what students will need to know; then there is plenty of room for several different options to emerge in the space.
2. Rising tide lifts all boats
The non-profit organization, code.org
, estimates that there are over 1,000,000 jobs in technology that will go unfilled by 2020 (YES!..that’s just 2 years from now). Hadi & Ali Partovi, the founders of code.org
, have done a great job at building awareness of the technology talent pipeline issue. They have also made great progress in training teachers and getting their solution into schools. However, we still need a lot more for-profits, non-profits, & public/private partnerships to successfully address the necessary awareness, introduction and development of these skills in students.
We believe that the more organizations that are looking to make an impact in the coding and engineering design skills development space, the healthier this education technology industry will become.
In essence, a rising tide of organizations that care about providing 21st century skills to the next generation of kids so that they can ultimately go on to solve really difficult problems using technology is going to do everyone a world of good.
3. Gives customers choice
Customers appreciate having choices. Each of our competitors have their own unique approach to teaching kids how to build with technology.
Essentially, we want to take advantage of the millions and millions of product development resources that have already been invested in this space. In fact, our team is always in search of the best methods, products and platforms to teach kids how to excel when learning coding & engineering design.
In addition, we’ve built out a huge library of hundreds of projects that our students can work on to develop their skills in a variety of technology-based topics over time.
Each of our competitors have their own unique approach to teaching kids how to build with technology.
Our differentiated approach enables customers to decide which method is going to maximize the individual learning for their children. The students who we have worked believe that our approach is preferred. However, if another approach suits them better; it is good for those options to exist.
Within the fast-food industry, McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are the most popular places to get a hamburger and fries. There are some who will only go to McDonald’s because they LOVE the Big-Mac. While there are others who can’t do without a Whopper. And there are still others who love a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy’s.
While each of these companies might have liked to believe that they could own 100% of the market, the reality is that within a given industry; there are always going to be varying customer preferences.
Essentially, if the goal is to get kids to build with technology, we would prefer that they learn in a way that is going to enable them to do that. Sometimes, that will be by utilizing our education technology platform. Other times, it will be by working with one of our competitors. We’re OK with that.
4. Keeps us on our toes
One of the best parts about having other companies competing in the coding for kids space is that it keeps us on our toes. As a company founded by engineers, we have embedded continuous improvement into our product development, the design of our studios, the employees we hire, the curriculum we develop and the way in which we engage with students.
However, as we run different experiments to find ways to improve our solution its nice to know that there are others who are seeking to not only innovate in this space as well but also gain market share if our product does not continue to meet the needs of our customers.
Since we plan to be in this space for a long time, we are aware that there are going to be some aspects that our competitors are better at than us and some aspects that we are better at than our competitors.
Over time, we can continue to build upon our strengths while working to address our shortcomings in a way that is laser focused on what is best for the customer.
5. Enables us to learn
When we think about how big our mission is and the challenges associated with accomplishing teaching kids how to build with technology so they can change the world, it’s great to learn from how others approach the problem.
We have a hypothesis that we believe the data is showing the efficacy of. However, the coding for kids space is continuing to evolve and innovation is accelerating at a pace on par with that of the broader technology space.
While we don’t necessarily have an insiders view on what they are teaching or how they are teaching, we can gain a general sense of the approach.
These insights help us either validate that we are confident in our current approach or can sometimes have us question our assumptions about why we are progressing down a certain path.
In both scenarios, the competition has helped us gain awareness to another approach that could’ve been hidden for the team that is utilizing one set of assumptions for how we build.