REVIEW – Kate, this is a great idea. The biggest positives for this venture are that I know it is close to your heart and you would bring a lot of personal experience to its operation. Your commitment and subject matter expertise would be invaluable assets in this venture. Your identification of the problem is also based on keen observation and insights. Your solution is stated clearly. However, I don’t believe that the model of engagement you have proposed will engage your audience (i.e. faculty) any differently from the current engagement model offered by institutions internally. The limited success of the existing professional development model for faculty has been its “if you build it they will come” approach. However, we know that “they” do not come because they are not motivated by any external factors to do so. Regardless of how well designed the engagement model and the professional development program may be, it will still enjoy limited success until faculty are deeply externally motivated to buy in to the professional development and implement it.
Currently, your model does not offer a solution to the real problem – the lack of motivation of faculty. Even though your service offering seems diverse and offers flexible engagement models, I keep thinking that it is modelled on a “good faith assumption” i.e. faculty actually want to develop in this area. I think the limitations introduced by this assumption are what you need to overcome as you refine this model. Namely: “What can you offer that will increase faculty motivation?”
Quality and diversity of professional development services will only provide limited appeal to an audience that doesn’t think the product applies to them. Until the motivation question is answered you have a great product with no buyers and as a venture analyst I believe that you need a great product and an audience who sees the value in your product in order to succeed.