The Intersection of Startup Investing and the New Learning Economy



Sep 12, 2023 β€’ 3 min read


The Intersection of Startup Investing and the New Learning Economy


In the fast-paced world of Silicon Valley investing, Ron Conway has emerged as a legend. With a diverse portfolio of successful investments, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Snap, Conway understands the importance of networking and building strong relationships within the founder network. However, even with his track record, Conway acknowledges that investing is a risky business, with many companies failing to make a profit. This article explores the lessons Conway learned from the rise and fall of Napster, as well as the potential opportunities for startups in the new learning economy.

Lesson 1: The Power of Networking in Startup Investing

Conway attributes much of his success to the power of networking within the founder community. He likens it to the Mafia, where founders share valuable insights and recommend value-adding investors to each other. This network has been instrumental in SV Angel's growth and ability to identify promising startups. Building relationships and maintaining a strong presence within the founder network is crucial for any investor looking to make successful investments.

Lesson 2: The Disruptive Potential of the New Learning Economy

Education, a $1.8 trillion-dollar industry in the U.S., is ripe for disruption. With math and reading levels hitting 20-year lows among nine-year-olds and teacher vacancies reaching crisis levels, the education system is in desperate need of innovation. The pandemic has accelerated technological adoption in classrooms and highlighted the inadequacies of traditional education systems. This shift has created an unprecedented economic opportunity for early-stage companies to cater to the evolving needs of students, teachers, and parents.

Lesson 3: Seizing the Opportunity in Education Startups

The U.S. government's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds (ESSER funds) provide a unique opportunity for startups in the education sector. With approximately $190 billion allocated to schools across three packages, there is a significant amount of money that must be spent by schools in the coming years. This influx of funding, coupled with the increasing demand for technological solutions and supplemental learning resources, creates a favorable environment for startups to thrive.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Build Strong Networks: Investors should prioritize building and maintaining strong relationships within the founder community, as networking plays a crucial role in identifying promising startups.
  • 2. Embrace Technological Innovation: Startups in the education sector should focus on leveraging technology to address the shortcomings of traditional education systems and provide innovative solutions for students, teachers, and parents.
  • 3. Capitalize on Government Funding: Education startups should strategically position themselves to take advantage of the government's ESSER funds, ensuring their products and services align with the funding priorities and requirements set by the authorities.


Ron Conway's experiences in startup investing and the emerging opportunities in the new learning economy highlight the importance of networking, technological innovation, and strategic positioning. As the education sector undergoes significant transformations, startups have the chance to make a lasting impact by addressing the challenges faced by students, teachers, and parents. By recognizing the potential in this sector and taking actionable steps to seize the opportunity, investors and entrepreneurs can contribute to shaping the future of education.


  1. "Silicon Valley investing legend Ron Conway on the lessons learned from Napster", (Glasp)
  2. "The New Learning Economy: It’s Time To Build in Education | Andreessen Horowitz", (Glasp)

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