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How three historians run an EdTech startup

“We want Interclass to be used in every classroom!”

From joining the ACE Incubation Program in February and moving into Startup Village Amsterdam a couple months later, to expanding their team with a content manager and IT specialist, to launching their first customer in December, educational tech company Interclass has achieved a lot in little over a year. When you’re juggling your startup with a part-time job and wrapping up your studies, it definitely helps to have a support system in place, says Anna van Thiel, co-founder of Interclass (together with Yasemin Demirtas and Lex Marsé). “For us, being part of the ACE community has kept us going through some tough times.”

Focus

Their original idea for the company was to set up a network in museum education, sharing educational material from museums with visitors worldwide. While they didn’t entirely abandon this concept (they are currently working on a project with the Rijksmuseum), the focus shifted early-on from museums to the classroom. After running pilots with several schools, they recently sold their online learning tool to a high-school in Roosendaal, where 800 students will be using the Interclass method to help them study for their exams. Interclass is currently offering a history program but wants to cover all high-school subjects in the future with the aim to provide more fun and efficient ways of studying.

Realistic goals

As history students (2/3rds of Interclass has a teaching degree and are currently studying history and art history resp.) it hasn’t always been easy for the founders to make their way in the startup world. During the UvA Minor Entrepreneurship they built their online learning tool from scratch. Being the only team with a humanities background in the course, they felt like the “underdogs”, coming in with a very idealistic set of ideas on how to do things. But they quickly learned how to be more realistic and set short term achievable goals, which led them to eventually make it to the finals of the course’s Demo Day competition.

Challenges

Another challenging aspect of their entrepreneurial journey? “It has definitely been a struggle for us to prove that we run a serious business. Especially for me and Yasemin, being two young women in a world where the majority of startups is still run by guys and 80% of VC companies are also made up of men, it’s sometimes hard to shake the image of two fun girls just hanging around. It can be really frustrating to be underestimated in that way”, Anna says. And it’s definitely unfounded, she adds: “Women often have a real sense of passion for their product and are more likely to pursue the goals they initially set for themselves and the company.”

Find support

Their advice for budding entrepreneurs: let others guide you! After joining the ACE Incubation Program, Interclass was hooked up with a business coach who keeps them on track and helps them maintain a positive attitude, even when things feel like they are not going in the right direction. It’s also helpful to reflect on issues with fellow entrepreneurs at Startup Village. “Having this kind of support is what makes life in a startup better”, Anna says, “it feels good to be valued for what you are worth and get that kind of motivational feedback.”

Want to join the ACE Incubation Program? We are now accepting applications for our upcoming batch (starts April 9) – APPLY NOW

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