The Big Story
India offers investors golden chance to build the world’s classroom
With record $2.1 billion investments in 2020, India's ed-tech sector has taken off on an unprecedented trajectory of growth.
Garnering a jaw-dropping investment of $2.1 billion in the calendar year 2020, compared to $1.7 billion in the entire decade between 2010-2020, India’s nascent edtech industry has the potential to become a $30 billion market in the next five years, according to a recent report on the e-learning industry by Anand Rathi Advisors Limited (ARAL).
According to another report by PGA Labs and IVCA, India’s overall education sector is poised to grow from the current $117 billion to $225 billion by 2025. And therefore, India’s edtech companies are all pouncing on the opportunity to gain the biggest market share and consolidate user habits and interest before the unpredictable reopening of schools and colleges.
With the coronavirus pandemic upending the physical academic life of schools and colleges across the country, it was a no-brainer that online classrooms would emerge as the next big industry to watch out for. But the scale of the growth has taken even the most hard core industry watchers by surprise, with some of India’s biggest edtech startups – BYJU’S, Unacademy, Upgrad and Vedantu – seeing their numbers grow at a rapid pace.
Fresh investments, acquisitions and consolidations have become the norm in an industry that was only projected to grow at half this rate at best, before the pandemic.
On Tuesday, India-based edtech firm Vedantu announced it had acquired doubt-solving platform Instasolv for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition is expected to add about 1 million users on Vedantu’s app while allowing Instasolv – a doubt-clearing platform – to leverage Vedantu’s existing capabilities in live classes, tech, product, and content.
“Last year we took a strategic decision to invest in Instasolv to strengthen our play in doubt-solving, which is one of the key aspects of learning online,” said Vedantu CEO Vamsi Krishna, referring to the firm’s $2 million investment in Instasolv’s pre-series A round in June 2020.
Acquisitions and consolidations
The deal comes on the heels of India’s largest edtech startup Byju’s reportedly acquiring another doubt-solving edtech startup Scholr for about $2.1 million. A few weeks prior to this, Byju’s signed yet another deal to acquire rival Toppr Technologies in a transaction valued at roughly $150 million. In January, the company had also reportedly signed a deal to acquire brick-and-mortar test prep leader Aakash Educational Services for $1 billion.
“Education is one area where one-solution one-approach won't work for all. That's where edtech startups are playing a crucial role in bringing variety to make it inclusive, helping every kind and stage of a student,” said Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst at techARC.
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That dictum is evident at India’s star edtech player – BYJU’S. From 2015 till March 2020, BYJU’S had 45 million free users on the platform with 3.5 million paid subscribers. In the last few months, that number has shot up to 70 million users and 4.7 million subscribers. “A lot of students are trying out online learning and that’s happening more than before. Unfortunately, it eventually took a crisis like this for people to try out online learning and all stakeholders, not just students,” BYJU’S founder Byju Raveendran told Business Insider in an interview.
With one of the youngest populations in the world and limited availability of good quality educational institutions and teachers, it is not surprising that education technology is set to thrive in India, say analysts.
"Technology has never been so critical in our education system. Today our decision making advocates use of technology in education. There are a plethora of opportunities like AR and VR to transform the way we deliver education to students of the 21st century,” said Nidhi Bansal, Pro-Vice Chairperson of Pacific World School.
Boost from new education policy
A major boost for the sector has also come with the implementation of India’s new education policy, while on the technology side the rollout of 5G services in the country is poised to further transform the industry.
- Rishi Ahuja, founder of Klip VR Immersive Technologies
“The new education policy reimagines education in India. As we weave along more and more aspects of our life with technology, education also needs to take off with new age technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for fostering learning and growth of our future generations. 5G can bring about VR in education to offer an unmatched high-quality end-user VR experience to our students,” said Rishi Ahuja, founder of Klip VR Immersive Technologies, which offers VR experiences across classrooms in India.
Thanks to this convergence of technology, opportunity and an unmatched potential customer base, just as India has sealed its position as the world’s pharmacy during the pandemic, it is similarly on the way to becoming the world’s classroom – disrupting learning to usher a new paradigm of innovation, making quality education accessible to more students anytime and anywhere, and unlocking unprecedented opportunities for global investors.