The Nextech Business Model
July 30th, 2015
My name is Karen Jung, the Executive Director of Nextech and I have a confession to make. I don’t know how to run a nonprofit. What I know is business, culture, and the value of providing best-in-class products and services based on market demand.
Nextech is the next generation of the ExactTarget Foundation. By legal definition, it is a nonprofit. More importantly though, it is a business – one cut from the cloth of a legacy culture committed to its’ people and measurable outcomes. Our mission is to connect educators, innovative nonprofits, and entrepreneurs to deliver best-in-class programs that inspire and enable young people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in technology. Our programs educate students from kindergarten through high school seniors on computer science, and equip their teachers with the skills to continue in-class education of computer science programs.
However, Nextech isn’t a place or a single program. It’s an idea that leverages best-in-class partnerships and initiates only what is needed, without replicating or reinventing.
I capped my 11 years with ExactTarget by spending the last two years as Executive Director of the Foundation. It was inspiring work, but nothing frustrated me more than when I received a grant application requesting funds to build programs or services that just reinvented what someone else had already established — successfully. I vowed we would never repeat that behavior.
In business competition is good. In cause-based business, competition dilutes. It creates noise instead of one unified voice. It detracts from the mission-drive organizations collective ability to realize the mission they are all strive for.
Nextech seeks to work within the ecosystem. We build collaborative partnerships to develop the next generation of tech talent. We relentlessly ask the business community what skills the next generation of tech talent needs as the landscape evolves so quickly. We look for established programs that serve K-12 youth and then identify how we can partner with them to achieve economies of scale to develop the very skills demanded by employers.
In April we announced our flagship partnership with Code.org, a national nonprofit who has single handedly trained over 10,000 new Computer Science (CS) teachers across grades K-12. Through this relationship we are able to bring much needed CS curriculum and teacher professional development to Indiana schools. This summer we forged a partnership with TeenWorks that gave us all the operational support needed to deliver a valuable internship program to nine area high school students.
These two relationships are the epitome of our business model: Focus on what we know best, and partner with other best-in-class organizations who can tackle the rest.
I don’t know any other way.