Why do great schools have empty spots? Why don’t schools compete fiercely for students? How does reducing microfrictions increase economic growth?
Professor Chris Neilson is not your typical founder. He was born in the heart of Silicon Valley to undocumented immigrants from Chile. He is a former elite professional rugby player and has advised education policy for governments across the globe, the World Bank, and the IDB. He is a Professor of Economics and Global Affairs at Yale and has devoted his career to helping partners make the best education choices.
Chris has always believed that the market inefficiency in the schooling market was fixable, that technology-based solutions are inevitable, and that he would be leading the charge to build them.
In this episode, we talk about Chris’s childhood education experiences, his early entrepreneurial and athletic leanings, his successful research career at Yale & Princeton, and his most recent venture as CEO of Tether Education. At Tether, he is implementing his research at speed and scale. Tether is creating a connected network of schools and students through a digital platform. No school would be left behind.
What does Chris see as obviously the future?
The middle class in Latin America is growing.
As people get wealthier, education grows as a percent of GDP.
Governments aren’t getting efficient at the same rate. They are slow to keep up with new technology and updated regulations.
Despite the increase in digital innovation within the education sector, there is a risk that access to quality education may become even more unequal than it is today.
Ensuring efficient and equitable access to education requires a well-designed digital platform infrastructure to provide a well-functioning market of choice, promote competition, and speed up the adoption of innovations.
Governments and small businesses in education will need help to stay connected to the frontier of technology and innovation and not fall behind.
Today, Tether and Chris prove this thesis by matching parents to schools and daycares across Latin America and tethering schools to a platform to increase digitization.
Chris is an unstoppable force with a massive vision and an insatiable desire to succeed. In the full interview, learn more about his journey and what he’s building at Tether.
Removing ‘micro frictions’ to achieve more economic growth
Increasing choice and competition in the school and daycare market
Fixing equity gaps by providing a platform for better decisions
The digital divide in schools is even bigger post-Covid
Academia vs Startup life: Having skin in the game with your VC
Being an athlete, learning quickly, and building a team
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We’d love to hear your thoughts, reactions, and questions.
Chris Neilson’s research homepage.
Seeing Beyond the Mirage: Ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education.