Getting Edtech and Educational Resources List Approval in Each State in the U.S.
You’ve got the solution for the challenges that educators face. Your edtech product has launched and your educational resources are ready for classroom use. Already, your future consumers are eagerly waiting for them with great anticipation because you’ve saturated the market with advertising.
The only problem is that no one in education can purchase your products and services yet because you’re not on the superintendent’s approved vendor list.
How do you get on the superintendent’s approved vendor list?
Googling the steps required for vendor approval may leave you just as overwhelmed as when you first launched your startup idea. The rules for becoming an approved vendor vary in every state. Even school districts within the same state can have very different guidelines, as long as they are in compliance with state and federal law. For example, some districts allow you to contact schools directly. Others require that you get on their approved vendor list before you can speak with a school employee.
One truth stands out above all others: you’ve got to get on the superintendent’s approved vendor list. You have several choices in how to do this, including purchasing an email list from a marketing vendor, but the last thing you want to do is call every school district leader.
There’s a much easier way to get your name on the list.
The edtech and educational resources list that matters most
If you want to do business in a large school district, like Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) or Chicago Public Schools (CPS) check the district website for specific vendor information. LAUSD expects that you follow their outlined steps, and CPS requires that you have a sponsorship in order to become an approved vendor.
Some districts may require specific documents from you, such as proof of insurance or a sole source letter. The sole source letter identifies you as the only vendor who can provide your edtech product or educational resource. This identification means that a school district doesn’t need to go through the bidding process.
At any rate, trying to get around the rules will not only get you kicked off the list, but it also could prevent you from ever getting on another approved vendor list.
Approved, but not vetted
Once you get your name on the superintendent’s list of approved vendors, you might still not get calls about your edtech and educational resources. Administrators, like everyone else with busy days,: they tend to take the path of least resistance. The easiest route is often the quickest, and vendors who have been pre-approved are called first.
A pre-approval process has little to do with the quality of your edtech product. It’s all about school safety and protecting taxpayer resources.
Education has changed since you were last there. Fingerprints and background checks are required for anyone working on a school campus these days. You can get both done in advance so that you’re ready to walk onto campus as soon as you get a call.
The lean startup methodology philosophy would require you to wait to do both until you get a call about demonstrating your product because you take on initiatives as they appear. However, time may not be on your side. Fingerprinting and a background check could take anywhere from five minutes to five days, depending on what the district requires.
Taking the time to get pre-approved with a background check places you in a separate category from your competition. It says you are a professional who understands the needs of educators. You may be the only vendor ready to meet on campus when you get the call about your edtech product or educational resource.
Finally, remember that getting on the list means that you are approved, but not endorsed.
When to consider a co-op
Being an approved vendor for school districts isn’t the only way to gain access to districts and their schools. Many states operate education resource and service centers who showcase vendors and offer training opportunities. The organizations help approved vendors gain access to schools.
When starting your approved vendor list search, begin with big states with large enrollments, like Texas, California, and Michigan. Texas, for example, has more than one thousand schools districts. To support these diverse districts, the state operates twenty-one service centers that often serve as the first point of contact. California makes finding vendor lists easy by maintaining a list of vendors providing edtech and educational resources. Michigan, too, has compiled a government and school vendor list on the internet. This state relies on MiDEAL, which simplifies contracting and purchasing from approved vendors.
Even large national organizations like the National School Board Association (NBSA) maintain a school vendor list.
Your other option is to register with an educational purchasing co-op. A co-op approves the vendors on the list, giving thousands of schools an easy and often cost-efficient way to purchase the edtech products and services they need.
After you’re on the list
Congratulations! You’re on the superintendent’s list of approved vendors. You’re ready to make a sale, but be respectful of school employees’ time. Their first job is to provide instruction for students, and interruptions are never welcome. Instead, schedule a time convenient for them to talk.
Being on that approved list streamlines purchasing. Most schools buy their edtech products and educational resources with purchasing orders. The purchase order is an official document that specifies the items and services to be acquired. Schools and district rely on these documents to stay within the parameters of their budget.