Employers are the next beta for consumer edtech – TechCrunch

Remote work can have changed the way we spend our days, but there’s one pretty sneaky disruptor among us: burnout. As the pandemic continues, employees are either chasing a bigger goal or simply exhausted by the uncertainty and outdated culture of their current jobs.

It’s also not a small subset of the workforce: Microsoft estimates that 41% of people are likely to consider leaving their employer within the next year; and that 46% are considering making a major career change or transition.

Freshly capitalized, MasterClass and Outschool are looking for ways to develop their valuations.

Employers are under new pressure to retain talent, which has resulted in more comprehensive and creative benefits, ranging from preconception and postpartum support to text-based mental health care and on-demand meditation. As the movement to better support employees is gathering momentum, traditionally consumer-focused edtech startups are taking note.

Over the past few months, direct-to-consumer businesses, including Outschool and MasterClass, have quietly developed products targeting employers. The platforms, which mix entertainment and education, have an unconventional value proposition. Outschool, an after-school enrichment platform for kids, bets working parents might need extra help keeping their kids engaged. And MasterClass, which offers on-demand, expert-led courses, hopes a conversation with their favorite celebrity might inspire a star employee to stay with the company longer.

The belief that employers will invest in edutainment benefit platforms departs from the traditional discourse used by edtech to enter this market. Companies like Udemy and Guild Education, for example, are focusing much more on retraining and developing the workforce to fill the latter roles in demand.

As nascent efforts begin to generate real investment, the success of mainstream edtech will depend on its ability to effectively and consistently translate its impact on employers over the long term. Simply put, entrepreneurs need to convince employers to turn to edtech for an even more elusive solution than education: motivation.

When the struggle is more obvious

Amy Yamner Jenkins joined Outschool last fall as an entrepreneur to develop the extracurricular market activities. When schools did not reopen in August 2021, she said schools and employers began to look to Outschool to relieve the stress of another year of distance learning.

These early customer signals fundamentally changed Outschool’s priorities. A year later, Jenkins is Head of Schools and Distribution, in charge of a team of 10 who work solely to help Outschool integrate more schools and employer benefits. Today, more than 100 companies, including Alto Pharmacy, Mursion and Twitter, use Outschool.

“I don’t think it was easy to be a working parent before the pandemic,” Jenkins said. “But it looks like the pandemic made it even more obvious [to companies] what was the fight.