Future of Education Startups in India – Will They Grow Fast Enough?

  • The education sector in India is estimated at US$ 91.7 billion in FY18 and is expected to reach US$ 101.1 billion in FY19.
  • Not just study material, the edtech sector is a career-shaping space that has all the tools to enhance skillsets. From teaching normal subjects to robotics or blockchain through technology, these startups are at the helm of an industry worth over $247B.
  • Projections show the e-learning market worldwide is forecast to surpass 243 billion U.S. dollars by 2022.
  • According to a KPMG report released a few years back, the edtech market is pegged to touch $1.96 billion by 2021.
  • As per tracxn.com, there are 4,031 EdTech startups in India.

Edtech Horizon in Indian Higher Education: An Overview

For a country like India where the IT sector is at the helm of GDP growth, the evolution of edtech industry is of great significance. Today, the sector is attracting huge investments from funding agencies and drawing a lot of innovative entrepreneurs. Edtech unicorns such as Byju’s, NoPaperForms, Simplilearn, etc. are leading the disruption in Indian education space.

Due to their technological prowess, Edtech startups are bringing radical changes in education in India in a rapid way. With growing demands, it is clearly evident that such ventures in the education sector are going to rise in the coming years. In the recent past a lot of startups have come up in this space. As per tracxn.com, there are 4,031 EdTech startups in India.

These small and medium enterprises are working on providing innovative solutions to different challenges in education. While some are targeting the online courses arena, others are helping institutions automate their admission and marketing processes. Education portals like MBAUniverse, Shiksha, Careers360, Collegedunia, etc. are helping students prepare for various careers by providing relevant information. Some startups are even harnessing Virtual Reality to change the entire education spectrum.

With all the technological advancements in education that these startups are poised to bring, India could improve its global prosperity index in education which is currently ranked at 104th among 149 countries. It could also impact our ranking in the Human Capital Index (HCI) where education standards is a critical parameter of evaluation.

Internet of Things (IoT) and the growing adoption of smartphones is further bolstering the edutech environment in the country. It is redefining the way Indian students learn. Ebooks, online tutoring and test prep applications, web-based research, use of gamification in education are some of the unique ways that have changed our traditional education system in more ways than one.

Challenges and Opportunities for Edtech Companies in India

Today more than 4,000 edutech companies in India are serving the education space. Right from AI-based content curation in different formats and languages to smart virtual assistants, these startups are catering to the changing needs of the millennial learners.

The education sector in India is estimated at US$ 91.7 billion in FY18 and is expected to reach US$ 101.1 billion in FY19. In this booming environment, it is obvious for investors to fund this sector and make good returns. However, still out of 4000+ edtech startups only a handful have been able to attract major investors.

In 2018, Indian edtech startups received close to $700 mn in funding — an 85% jump from the $375 mn funding in 2017. But surprisingly, barring a few, none were able to receive double-digit funding.

Lack of awareness and less adoption of technology is one of the main reasons for edtech enterprises not being able to mainstream their business and attract investments. Many educational institutes in the country still function on conventional methods of delivery. Besides, there is no mechanism for edtech startups to get certified by regulatory bodies. This makes it further difficult for such companies to create authentic business credentials for winning investors’ trust.

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All of these above-mentioned questions are very pertinent in today’s scenario. These are reflective of a much bigger paradigm shift that edtech companies are capable of bringing.

Education technology is considered to transform the conventional education system by bringing an alternative model of delivery. The new model is more engaging and intended to improve learning outcomes.

New startups are emerging every year to drive the sector forward. What these startups are doing is providing a digital delivery of content in a more accessible way. The ones doing this better are being able to attract more funding.

Indian parents also are embracing technological changes in education and are open to exploring learning opportunities offered by tech startups to their kids. They are ready to go beyond textbooks and classrooms to enhance the knowledge of their children.

From upskilling to social inclusion, the digital revolution is transforming the way teaching is delivered and learning is happening in a virtual environment. Developing useful applications combining digital media and education requires technological prowess. This calls for new edtech ventures to collaborate with educators and government agencies for developing more engaging pedagogy.

In addition to transforming teaching-learning processes, edtech companies can play a major role in the automation of operational processes. With the growth of edtech startups, key functional areas such as education marketing is being impacted in a big way. Universities and Colleges are getting measurable returns from their marketing initiatives by implementing technology interventions. Similarly, the evaluation process is becoming more objective with the introduction of online assessment tools. But a lot more areas still need to be identified for achieving functional efficiency through the application of technology.

Future Potential for Edtech to Expand in India

No doubt, the future is promising for Indian EdTech startups. The Government is also taking a lot of initiatives to promote edtech culture in the country.

The online education market is expected to be worth USD 2 billion approx. in the next couple of years. Technology is already transforming the education system in India. With the growing acceptance of learning apps and on-the-go learning devices, the education landscape will further expand. Entrepreneurs and investors alike will be attracted to explore business opportunities in such a scenario.

In the burgeoning knowledge economy, edtech ventures can provide user-friendly educational content. These growth-oriented solutions will generate ideas to enable youth with need-based education. Employability is a natural upshot of education. Aspiring companies in the education domain can develop futuristic solutions to cater to the rising demands of industry 4.0 for skilled managerial talent.

Edtech innovators are already experimenting with visionary technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality for offering better learning experiences to users. Big private players are pushing growth of early-stage startups in education to scale up their ideas through their non-profit networks.

Within the education space, areas like AI-driven marketing automation, blockchain technology, gamification etc. have been cited as the ones with great potential for edtech startups to work.

Due to dire inequality in education standards caused by social, economic and geographic factors, India may not be fully utilizing the potential of its human capital. Here education technology companies can play a pivotal role to meet the learning needs of underserved sections of the country.

India’s education market estimated to grow to $5.7 billion by 2020. This presents a lucrative opportunity for edutech startups and venture capitalists to expand their roots. Education is still a relatively unexplored field as far as technological innovation is concerned. Edutech startups can not only benefit students but teachers as well. Classroom learning cannot be replaced but it can surely be updated by giving more flexibility to teachers for experimentation.

Technology companies working for the education industry must continue to shape the teacher-student relationship by offering better accessibility, distribution and formats of delivery. The dream of learning from the world’s top universities may no longer be a distant one. Thanks to the remarkable growth in online education, you can access quality learning material sitting at your home and at your convenient time. Such a thing has only been made possible due to technology companies. As the world is becoming smaller, dreams of young minds are becoming bigger. Edtech companies surely have a role to play in helping them realize these dreams.

As we move ahead, the countdown has begun for big edtech ideas to pitch for angel investments. Let’s watch out for funding for ideas that have the potential to positively disrupt the education industry.

If you are a passionate edutech startup and wish to collaborate or share about your work, write in the comment section.