Blog U › 
Dear Paul Graham: Why Y Combinator Needs a Global Ed Tech Startup
June 2, 2011 - 9:00pm

Dear Paul Graham:

I read about Y Combinator, your tech startup boot camp, in this month's Wired Magazine.

With all due respect, I found most of the startups you chose to mentor to be kinda boring. Do we really need another music streaming, meal finding, social networky, Facebook gaming site or mobile app?

Ask yourself this: What does the world really need that can be: a) delivered via a browser? b) delivered via a mobile device?

The answer: Education!

More specifically: Higher Education.

The next billion dollar technology company will be a globally focused education technology company.


  • Because tens of million of people in the emerging middle class in the emerging economies will need a postsecondary education to compete in a globalized digital economy.
  • Because the emerging middle classes of the emerging economies share an insatiable demand for higher education and postsecondary credentialing.
  • Because the existing postsecondary infrastructure in these countries is completely inadequate to the demands for entrance (size), quality, and delivery mechanisms.
  • Because these countries will leapfrog past traditional, place-based bundled postsecondary institutions, doing what they did with cell phones as they leapfrogged the old 19th and 20th century land line systems.

Some company is going to figure out how to partner with existing educational institutions to secure accreditation and brand recognition, bundle and add value to the growing universe of high quality open source educational content, and package this content into courses that will be delivered via smart phones and browsers from cheap laptops.

Some startup will crack this code, and be purchased down the road by a technology, media or publishing company that wants to build this new business, but is too big and slow and risk adverse to create the new higher ed.

I bet the founders of your start-up will not come from the U.S. Rather, they will be embedded in the local culture and educational systems. They will be from India, China, Indonesia, or Brazil.
The real action in higher ed in the next 30 years will not be in the U.S. or other wealthy countries. It will be in the emerging economies.

Will Y Combinator find, nurture, mentor and fund this startup?


Please review our commenting policy here.


  • Viewed
  • Commented
  • Past:
  • Day
  • Week
  • Month
  • Year
Back to Top