STEM – Tips on launching a Lab

Robert Grover – Experiential Education Program – Launch STEM Lab successfully – Tips & Advice.

As a veteran of 20 years of trying to survive the education industry, if you wanted to start a program like this, say in another country you wanted to start a program that could bring interactive experiential type learning into developing countries you have to be patient first of all and you have to be willing to recognize that it’s going to take time and when I say time it’s not days, months, it’s years because you actually have to get the program into play you have to see how is going to interact in the culture and in the environment and then you can start figuring out okay, what’s the business model? The mistakes that I think PCS made is we never really figured out what’s the perfect business model and we tried a lot of things that didn’t work and those all lost money so what you want to do is test and you want to test the market, you want to test the business model and you want to make sure it works before you take it to the next step which is putting a lot of money behind it and scaling it and that’s what we’re doing now. I mean we’re taking the slab and we’re incrementally improving it and what we want to do is duplicate that.

A good example, our partners in India, we’ve licensed a lot of our curriculum and materials to a partner in India and they went into the Indian market with a specific concept, they were going to run something similar to our labs after school programs and after the first nine months they came to the conclusion that this model isn’t going to work in India and they realized that the things in the dynamics here it’s a lot easier for the people to get here for one thing and population is so dense in India that if a person was more than a couple of kilometers away they couldn’t even get to the class on time so things like that turns out to be logistically challenging so what they’ve done is now they’ve gone into the actual school, they take the program, drop it into private schools and their cycling kids from that private school through that lab on a regular basis and that model works because all the kids are there, the experience is closer to what the Indian education system can tolerate at this point. To bring somebody from a pedantic traditional learning environment, drop them into this is like dropping them into ice water, it’s a shock so they’re taking an incremental approach. They recognize that experiential out-of-the-box thinking is new to a lot of the education systems especially the ones they are working with, so they’re working at slowly. 

So if you want to do something like education and you want to start something like this you need to do it small, tests and then build it incrementally until you know what the business model is going to be before you throw a lot of money in it. It’s not going to be cheap to set it up and test it to begin with but what you don’t want to do is try to scale something that doesn’t work.