Updated: Mar 22
Passionate about making knowledge and edtech accessible to all, Thea Myhrvold is the proud founder and CEO of GetBEE and TeachMeNow. Having spent nearly a decade in her entrepreneurial journey, Thea truly knows what it takes to scale from a simple idea to a global business.
Tell us a little more about your business.
GetBEE is digitally transforming healthcare, education and consulting. One can say that it is an ecommerce generator for professional services. Instead of selling products, we are selling time. Now in a post-Covid world, this is more relevant than ever!
Who or what influenced you to become the entrepreneur you are today?
If you had asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I would have never said any of the things I do today. Tech wasn’t even on my horizon as a career nor were there role models of women in tech that I was exposed to at the time.
I thought working for the UN or similar organizations was the only way to change the world. I was soon to discover that tech and entrepreneurship were a more efficient way to effect change. A big push in this direction was discovering what I didn’t enjoy doing and then deciding to carve out a path of my own.
What went through your mind as the pandemic first started to unfold?
It has been a time of great reflection – health, safety and family. Ensuring that everyone on our team had the flexibility to work safely from home was vital. My next thoughts were: how can we support social enterprises or startups to find solutions for this challenging time?
I am proud to share that we support a great initiative called Aquiestoy in Latin America, crowdsourcing mental health experts that are volunteering their time for people with mental health challenges.
A lot of companies experienced a 'shock to the system' during the beginning of the pandemic. How did it impact you?
We are in a fortunate position of growth. Our shock was positive, where we had to upgrade servers and scale fast. It was an accelerator in many ways.
What were some other effects that really surprised you?
It was incredible to see the commitment the team had and continues to have about ensuring we create impact and support our community. For example, employees who are not usually customer facing were making support and sales calls around the clock. They also were able to adapt to remote working, distance learning and consulting seamlessly. My team embodied our values and I am very proud of them.
Another positive surprise is to see adaptability across industries. So many companies are innovating to cater to a post-Covid world. We are proud to support this digital transformation in industries like retail, fashion, beauty, and more.
Do you think Covid-19 has permanently changed the edtech industry?
I think it has accelerated digital transformation in learning, retail, health and more. Edtech in particular will continue to have challenges that can never be solved by technology. For example, there is no substitute for the social aspect of interacting in a classroom, or being able to stand on stage in front of an audience. Many jobs of tomorrow remain digital – perhaps this wave is shaping a future workforce that is native to this new digital era as compared to the older generation who are not able to adapt yet.
What's your advice for other edtech startups?
Working closely with educationists, teachers and experts is vital because technology itself is a tool, not a substitute for what their expertise can teach you. The key to making a meaningful impact is continuously learning from outcomes and research.
What do you think the next great transformation in education technology will look like?
I see four potential waves of fundamental change:
More focused and industry relevant courses that are recognized by employers will be the new degrees. There needs to be more alignment with industry and education, since industries are transforming faster than education can keep up.
Hybrid schools where you have more home than in school learning as the norm.
How we evaluate students' abilities need to change. Now that we are collecting so much data about learning, we can grade students consistently throughout the year, instead of focusing on end-of-year exams.
If Elon Musk’s predictions come true and we can "download" information to our brain, we need to reflect on what learning fundamentally is. Learning is not just “updating” information but analyzing it based on cognitive abilities. Increased access to data doesn’t make people smarter. However, making analytical and critical decisions will be more relevant than ever.