Dispatches from the Front: EdTech Leaders Face Covid-19 – Week 3
Dispatches from the Front
EdTech Leaders Face Covid-19
This is the third of a series of mini-interviews ODP conducted with EdTech Founders and Senior Executives to gain insights into how industry leaders are adjusting their strategies and evolving their management practices during the current pandemic.
THIS WEEK: Pep Carrera, CEO of Nearpod
Pep Carrera, CEO of  Nearpod
Pep Carrera is CEO of Nearpod, a digital student engagement platform that serves the K-12 and higher education market. He took over as CEO from one of Nearpod’s co-founders in March of 2020, after having served as President of ProQuest Books and, prior to that, President and COO of VitalSource Technologies.

What strikes you as the most significant change in education that will endure in the post-COVID world?

For months, parents have needed to be involved in the education of their children. Standards will rise. Engaging and impactful learning delivery will permanently improve. I can’t tell you the number of talented teachers and parents I’ve spoken to that intend to bring a new wave of talent to education after walking through this crisis.

What’s your strategy for charging for products/services that you might have supplied for free during the crisis?

After having opened up all of our premium products this year for free, and focusing hard on servicing all of the schools and districts who received them the same as we would every customer, we hope that the outcomes and experiences themselves will prove the value of our platform and content. In addition, we have a fairly significant add-on product we were planning to launch for back-to-school this year that we will provide for free to all existing customers through the end of their current subscription year, as simply another way to ensure that in these times we’re proving to be of even more value to teachers, administrators, and students.

Parents have become teachers while at home. Is this a fundamental – or perhaps only temporary – shift? Does this influence your marketing and product development plans?

It will cause a fundamental shift — certainly of these cohorts of parents demanding more and helping in a broad way. We’re lucky to be able to help teachers re-create the magic of the classroom and let them fully express their creativity in an accessible way. We want to enable more of this. Every parent I’ve spoken to with students at a school where Nearpod was used simply praised how much the kids loved the platform. So no, we don’t see a strategic shift for our product; we want to double down here.

In what ways has the crisis changed the way you lead your organization?

Well, the timing of my start here was right at the beginning of the crisis. I had the wonderful experience of watching everyone in the Company pivot hard to serving our customers and the entire industry. I felt like my job was to keep us safe and focused, let our team be incredibly creative, and stay out of their way. So far, so good!

What are you hearing from your customers? What changes do you anticipate in the sales process and pipeline during this fall selling season?

Different customers are dealing with different priorities. It really feels like the crisis is local, and we are attempting to match needs at different parts of the spectrum. Some districts are focusing on starting live, others hybrid, and many are starting with distance learning. All of them are also thinking about contingencies. We’re fortunate thus far; teachers unlock Nearpod’s engagement magic in live or remote scenarios. Because of this, we’re an essential platform. Customers are dealing with so many variables that the bulk of our sales and marketing focus is ensuring we clearly understand the needs of our customers and making sure we set them up for success this year.


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Oaklins | DESILVA+PHILLIPS is an investment bank for clients that operate at the intersection of content, technology and services. This includes enterprises operating within the media, advertising & marketing, education, healthcare, information services and technology sectors.  Over 24 years, clients have included Advance Publications/Condé Nast, Deutsche Börse Group, Elsevier, Hachette, JP Morgan Partners, Microsoft, The New York Times, Time Inc., TPG and Wasserstein & Co., among others. The firm is the TMT practice co-head and industry specialist in Oaklins, the world’s most experienced mid-market M&A advisor, with over 850 professionals globally and dedicated industry teams in more than 45 countries. We have closed 1,700 transactions in the past five years.At Oaklins, we are passionate about M&A. It’s what we do, every day. We give nothing but our very best to do justice to the extraordinary effort our clients put into their businesses. Our partnership with our clients works because we both believe in never settling until we deliver excellence. Coming from every corner of the world and with a diverse range of backgrounds, together we are one global team. The world’s most experienced advisor on mid-market deals.Oaklins is the collective trade name of independent member firms affiliated with Oaklins International Inc. For details of the nature of the affiliation, please refer to www.oaklins.com/legal.

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Robin Warner

Managing Director

Oaklins DeSilva+Phillips

(212) 651-2605