Updated Aug 23 - The Final edshelf T-shirt!
Here is the winning t-shirt design!
The votes broke down like this:
- I literally meant figuratively. - 67%
- Decimals have a point. - 23%
- A rule of grammar: double negatives are a no-no. - 10%
Thank you everyone who voted!
Updated Aug 21 - Which T-shirt Design Do You Like Best?
I've seen a bunch of different t-shirt design preferences, so here is a poll. Which t-shirt design do you like the best?
Updated Aug 19 - A Few More Mentions
Just found a couple of other blog posts about this campaign:
- The Value of EdShelf #SaveEdShelf by Todd Bloch
- Crowdsourcing the Most Effective Education Technology with Teachers by Wheelock College (a guest post)
We are getting so close! Just a little more to go!
Updated Aug 17 - Spreading The Word
It's amazing how far and wide the story of edshelf has gotten. Here are a bunch of articles and blog posts I've found so far.
- Don't Leave EdTech Startups Sitting on The EdShelf by William Jenkins
- Going Off The Deep End by Alicia Leonard
- #SaveEdShelf by Eric Sheninger
- What edshelf and #saveedshelf Tells Us about the Strange School Market for Tech by Games and Learning
- #saveedshelf: a new model. Helping the developers on our team by Joyce Valenza
- Edshelf can save your bacon, now help #saveedshelf’s bacon! by Polly-Alida Farrington
- Will Crowdfunding Save Edshelf? by edSurge
- Edshelf The perfect tool for you to find the best in EdTech! by TeacherCast
- Teacher’s Take To Kickstarter To Save EdShelf by TechFaster
- Edshelf Needs your Help to Keep it Going - Please Spread the Word! by EdTechReview
- #SaveEdShelf is Getting a Kickstart by Alicia Leonard
- Can a Kickstarter campaign #saveedshelf? Interview with edshelf co-founder Mike Lee by EDUKWEST
- EdTech Educators Helping Each Other: edshelf and Miami Device by Anibal Pacheco
- Save Edshelf by David Kapuler
I can't even begin to express how gracious and humbled I am from all of this support. And this doesn't include the hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of #saveedshelf tweets. If you've seen any other articles or blog posts out there, please let me know.
There is only a week left for this campaign and we are sooo close. Please continue sharing and spreading the word. Just a little bit more is needed.
Thank you so much everyone!
Updated Aug 13 - My Development Priorities
Just to keep you all in the loop, here is what I will be working on if this campaign is successful, sorted by priority order:
- Migrate to new web host for improved performance.
- Stabilize the site. You may have noticed some site outages. I will be hiring a really sharp developer to help me optimize the code and protect it from traffic spikes and other anomalies.
- Add vendor accounts, so edtech companies can manage their product listings themselves. There will also be premium accounts that include sponsored listings in the newsletter and search results, listing analytics and premium features, etc. These are revenue-generating features. I will be hiring a contract designer and developer to help me with all of this.
- Improve current features. While edshelf has a respectable number of tools, there are still many more to be added and updated. I'll improve the Add Tool flow, as well as Search, Member Profiles, and the Create Collection flow. Also, I'll rename Collections as "Shelves," since that's what everyone calls them :)
If the campaign raises more than its target, there are a number of stretch goals I have as well. Some of these may change a bit based in the input of edshelf's members and the education community in general. If there are particular features you would really like to see, let me know and I can shift them around.
- Add a recommendations wizard. I've spoken to a few teachers and schools about this already. Edtech tools are just a means to an end. More important than edtech are the instructional goals. I'll be looking into ways to map these goals to edtech, instead of the other way around. There are revenue-generating promotional opportunities here too.
- Add support for Common Core State Standards. For schools that are adopting CCSS, this has been a common request within the Search functionality.
- Add additional tool evaluation features, such as a comparison matrix, leaderboards, buying guides, personalized recommendations, etc. The exact feature mix is still TBD, but the goal is to help educators compare and evaluate various products. Many of these will offer revenue-generating promotional opportunities as well.
- Add tool certifications. Products that pass specific objective criteria, like security measures, data portability, etc, can earn a certification so you know which companies are doing a thorough job.
- Add additional topic-specific newsletters. If you would only like to learn about new math tools or iPad apps, these topic-specific newsletters will highlight notable products more relevant to you. For edtech companies, these offer a great way to reach out to a relevant readership.
- Add additional school & district administration features. This will allow administrators at the school or district level to manage the teachers within their domains, set up organization-wide privacy and communication controls, see tool usage metrics, and more. I may consider making some of these features as premium features, though any schools that have supported this campaign will get a free trial :)
What do you think?
Updated Aug 8 - The edshelf T-shirt!
I would like to finally reveal the edshelf t-shirt! Ta da!
This design won over a more corporatey "company logo on a t-shirt" design. As a collector of funny t-shirts and bad puns, I wholly approve of this choice :)
There are some other puns that could be used. If there is a lot of demand for another pun, I'll use that instead. Here are some choices:
- I literally meant figuratively.
- Decimals have a point.
- To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
- My computer is so slow it hertz.
I hope you like this t-shirt!
Update Aug 8 - Just Added an FAQ
Since I've been getting some frequently asked questions, I figured, you know, to have an FAQ. The questions include:
- What will happen if this campaign does not succeed?
- Is $30k really enough?
- Would you be interested in partnering with my company in some way?
If you have any other questions, let me know and I can add them as well. Thanks!
Update Aug 5 - A new "edshelf for Schools" reward!
Several schools and universities, as well as bloggers and entrepreneurs in other industries, have reached out to ask if they could have their own version of edshelf. With that in mind, I've been gathering requirements for a new "edshelf for Schools" product. This will be a subscription-based premium product.
I just added a reward for donors that have the financial means and desire to support their local schools. With their generous pledge, I'll provide any school they choose a free one-year "edshelf for Schools" subscription. These schools will also have the ability to work with me directly on the features they need.
If you know of anyone who may be interested, please let them know! Thanks!
Update July 29 - $50 Rewards and Higher, Now with T-shirts!
Sorry everyone, I should have given t-shirts to all of the rewards at the $50 level and higher. I just finished negotiating with a t-shirt vendor and have more t-shirts to give away!
If you pledged $50 or more, you can change your pledge to one of the limit-number reward alternatives to get your t-shirt. Get them now while supplies last!
What is edshelf?
There are over 90,000 iOS apps in the education category of the iTunes App Store, and over 90,000 Android apps in the education category of the Google Play marketplace. That’s 180,000 mobile apps between iOS and Android. If you throw in the hundreds of thousands of educational websites and desktop apps as well, that is a lot of edtech through which to wade.
How in the world is a busy educator, parent, or student to know what is worth their money and time?
Edshelf is a socially-curated directory of education technology. Educators can:
- Add their favorite websites, mobile apps, desktop programs, and electronic products to our directory
- Search for relevant tools by price, age, subject, platform, or category
- Curate collections of their favorite tools for their classrooms, departments, schools, colleagues, and students
- Rate, review, and share usage suggestions of tools they have tried
How edshelf started
The idea for edshelf originally came from classroom teachers. In the winter of 2011, I posted a Craigslist ad offering local teachers an iTunes or Amazon gift card in exchange for an hour of their time. Twenty two replied. During those interviews, I asked for their top frustrations as a teacher. I ended up with a loooong list ideas. As I researched ways to solve each one, I realized that solutions existed for many already.
I shared this observation with some of those teachers. Two in particular expressed how enthusiastic, yet exasperated they were of the growing number of edtech solutions on the market. They suggested the idea of a "Yelp for edtech" and added, "Go build this please."
In the next few weeks, I developed a quick prototype. I shared it with a group of teachers and presented it at an edtech meetup. From the positive feedback, I encouraged a group of friends to join me and together, we built edshelf.
Why I need your help
The growth of our membership has been steady. It's a straight line up. Our original approach was to raise funding from investors, but they didn't believe our growth and product could translate to a massive ROI for them. Massive growth isn't always realistic in education though; sometimes slow and steady is better. And for me, I'm more interested in serving the education community than a financial ROI.
I looked at everything from grants to bank loans and everything in between, but unfortunately none of them worked out. My team eventually parted ways because their personal savings dried up. So I stubbornly pressed on by myself, though the company's and my personal savings are now at their end.
I was in the process of shutting edshelf down when something amazing happened.
Some of the amazing tweets I've seen:
The overwhelming enthusiasm and encouragement of these incredibly generous educators has convinced me to keep going.
If you are not an educator, even a small donation will mean a chance to help keep educators aware of the best and most relevant tools for their work. Edshelf takes away the chore of sifting through edtech so educators can do what they do best: teach and inspire our children.
Educators have a significant impact on a child's future happiness and success. By helping educators, we all are not only helping our own children, but future generations and societies as well.
What I plan on doing
If this campaign is successful, here is what I will do:
- Strengthen the codebase and infrastructure. The site has been experiencing some outages that can disrupt educators who are sharing their collections at webinars and conferences. So at the very least, I need to make sure what is currently online stays online in a stable fashion.
- Work on a sustainable business model. My aim is to earn enough revenue so this service can remain alive. This is a passion project, something I care deeply about, and I don't need to turn it into a huge corporation or anything. I just want to make sure I'm not back in this place next year :)
- Evolve the service. I have a laundry list of features that have been requested by educators. I will start working on those. Also, there are some things that edshelf does well and some things that edshelf doesn't do well. For instance, there are already a lot of great services with in-depth research and reviews of edtech being done by intelligent and passionate people. So instead, I'll find the best way edshelf and I can serve the education community.
- Give back to the community. There are so many ways I want to give back to the community. Like many other software developers, I rely a lot on open source software. So I plan on releasing some of the software I've built as open source. There are also lots of lessons I've learned that I'll share with other aspiring edtech entrepreneurs. And I'm really excited about the possibility of speaking with some of you and your students! Talking to educators and students has always been the most enjoyable part of building edshelf.
For the funding I'm raising from this campaign, here is where it will go:
- Monthly and yearly expenses. These are the expenses I need to pay to keep edshelf running, such as web hosting, domain management, email providers, legal fees, accountant fees, taxes, etc.
- Premium software packages. There are some great software packages out there that will enable me to add features to make edshelf much easier to use, though they have a price tag.
- Contractors. I won't be able to do everything myself, so I will need to hire developers and designers to help with some features. This is where the majority of the money will go.
- MailChimp - This company is what powers the edshelf Weekly newsletter. They've offered a generous discount to help keep costs down. Yay!
- Synthesis Hosting - This company offers high performance and security benefits, in addition to web hosting for WordPress-based websites. They can help edshelf handle its growing traffic! Yay!
Risks and challenges
It is possible a competitor will rise up and offer a better service than edshelf, though I think the amazing community around edshelf will tell me way beforehand if I am doing something stupid.
It is possible I may not be able to find a sustainable business model, though I'm pretty confident I can because it is a priority this time around. Here are some of the ideas I will be trying:
+ Premium subscriptions for vendors to be able to manage their product listings and get performance analytics.
+ Premium subscriptions for schools that want a private version of edshelf just for themselves.
+ Sponsored listings in the edshelf weekly newsletter. I've already been doing this with success, and will continue this.
+ Sponsored listings around the site. I don't expect this to be a major revenue generator because it is more important to me that educators find good tools, than to click on a bunch of ads. Sorry, advertisers, that's just how it is.
+ Affiliate and commission income from purchases made from edshelf. I've been doing this already and though it's not a major revenue generator, I'll keep it on the site.
+ There are a bunch of other ideas that I'll be trying too. A lot of edshelf members have also given me great suggestions.
I'm afraid I'll have to unfortunately shut edshelf down :(
It is the minimum amount I will need. The funding is going towards monthly operating costs, a contract designer, a contract developer, and basic living expenses. I've calculated that with these resources, I can establish a revenue model that will bring edshelf to "ramen profitability."
If this campaign raises more than $30k, I have a set of stretch goals to share - such as giving away free copies of the "edshelf for Schools" product to some lucky schools and offering some lucky teachers free access to an "edshelf Premium" product :)
Thank you for inquiring. I've gotten many such inquiries and am openly exploring all of them. Who knows where they'll lead me. If there is a good fit between our organizations and visions, let's chat!
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