India’s edtech scene is shining. At the beginning of 2020, edtech was at USD 1.3 billion. By 2025, it is expected to grow at least 8x, to USD 10 billion. With Indians increasingly seeking edtech solutions starting from early years to life-long learning, and for both, formal, structured education, and modular, unstructured learning, the sector’s prospects for innovation and expansion have never been better.
However, a question that gets asked often is with large edtech players such as Byju’s, Unacademy, Vedantu, Upgrad, Eruditus etc. already capturing large swathes of the market, is there enough room for new innovations and growth in India’s edtech space?
My answer is a resounding yes, and here are four reasons why -
All the entities mentioned above are great proof that multiple players can not only co-exist, but also thrive and win, thanks to the large profit pools in the sector. These companies are large in both valuation and revenue and continue to show potential for further growth.
As they look to stay on their trajectory, they will also expand inorganically through acquisitions. This in turn will create exit potential for newer, younger companies which are building in spaces yet to be explored. In the Indian context, these spaces lie across geography (non-metro and non-Tier 1markets are yet unexplored), socio-cultural contexts (vernacular, girls and women in semi-urban and rural areas), stages of learning (from early-years to lifelong learning), affordability, and learning styles. Which brings me to the promise and opportunities of India’s edtech story.
India’s edtech story is inherently dynamic and brimming with opportunities.
From initially venturing into the test-prep market, entrepreneurs are catering to other requirements of the value chain. With tech innovations in extra-curricular and recreational learning growing, edtech is not exclusive to formal education anymore and is percolating into all stages of learning. Both early-years learning, and college-to-work transition are yet to fully develop and are garnering growing attention. From vocational skills to vernacular learning, from soft skills to employability-focused training, edtech is catering to a matrix of not just educational needs, but to collective aspirations.
Penetration of the Indian market is another aspect; solutions have been built for metros and Tier 1 markets, but the potential of the semi-urban and vernacular markets is yet untapped. In a multi-context society like India’s, learning styles and affordability vary considerably, and present opportunities for new players to innovate and grow.
With online information becoming ubiquitous, learning is no longer restricted to formal education. It now touches lives of people from all walks of life, from homemakers to micro-entrepreneurs to gig workers to professionals. Covid-19 has dissolved the initial tech discomfort, and opened up avenues, hitherto unexplored, to deliver lifelong learning beyond the pandemic.
As edtech products and services proliferate, consumers will also choose those that address their needs and help them achieve their goals in a direct yet unique manner. The greatest takeaway from the world of offline education is that the biggest institutions have been built on their reputation to help people achieve their dreams.
This will remain true for edtech, both current and emerging businesses. Defining and measuring real outcomes in a simple, agile yet robust manner will become important. This is an exciting challenge to overcome, and we can expect several disruptors attempting to do this in the coming days.
Companies that demonstrate outcomes and successfully balance quality and lower customer acquisition costs will win trust, thrive, and leap from being just a large business to a long-lasting one.
Edtech is booming. Globally, there are 28 edtech unicorns who have collectively raised more than USD 18 billion in funding and have atotal combined valuation of more than USD 84 billion. While the US, followed by China, lead the space in terms of number of unicorns in edtech, the highest valued is the Indian player, Byju’s.
China dominates the after-school K12 space, while the USA leads in higher education and professional learning, and both see growing markets. With global edtech expenditure slated to hit USD 404billion by 2025, the prospects cannot get better as Indian companies look to expand globally as well.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the potential of edtech in the coming decade. For learners, this is going to mean a plethora of effective and affordable solutions and opportunities, for investors, a promising avenue for lucrative and impactful investment. Together, entrepreneurs, learners and investors can help build long-lasting edtech businesses, solving fundamental problems in India’s education sector, while delivering the promise of a thriving life for all.