What’s up with EdTech this FY?

I believe this is the year of EdTech, where it gets what is due since a couple of years. Long-form business models, increased push towards education, burgeoning mobile usage; edTech will shine.

It all started in January with BYJU acquiring personalized learning service Vidyartha for INR 50Cr. Personalized, self-paced learning is going to be those snail-paced education delivery models that will favor working professionals and students alike as attention requirements in the digital age increase. Slow but steady.

CueMath raised $15M (Series B) from CapitalG, Sequoia India. CueMath provides online mathematics after-school learning programs for K-8. CueMath’s model is unique as it brings out the importance of the role of teacher as a steward towards more directed learning. I believe the offline model binds teaching with retention psychologically. Present in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad, with around 300 math excellence centres in each of these cities — their presence PAN India is spot on. It’s great to see CueMath onboarding teachers and helping them provide certification. Teacher training is one big hollow spot in our education system.

January also saw Curiositi, an activity-based learning startup, raising Series A funding from Menterra Social Impact Fund. Flinto, Experifun, Smartivity are some of the startups bringing up the advantage that DIY kits and “hand-eye” learning may have in teaching kids STEM and other complex skills. Curiositi claims to have around 20,000 paying subscribers for its science and mathematics programs; quite enough critical mass to see them grow.

Unacademy also closed down $4.5M funding for expansion from Nexus Venture Partners, Blume Ventures, and other investors — allowing educators to create courses using their app on various subjects, including exclusive, personalized content for various competitive exams. Online courses marketplaces are still a long way from gaining critical mass traction (in my view) because I feel that the entire re-engineered MOOCs model doesn’t generate enough revenues over the short run. Moreover, moving forward, E-learning service provider Schoolguru raised bridge round in February 2017.

March saw Jaipur-based Nactus, raising undisclosed angel funding from a group of investors. Offers several tools including class management, communication, performance management, and is available on both Android and iOS platforms, as well as on the web.

Again the EdTech dynamite! BYJU’s raises $30M from Verlinvest — BYJU’s raised fresh funds from Verlinvest at a higher valuation of about $600M in March 2017. I feel BYJU’s has some good amount of cash reserves that is aimed only at road-rolling its way forward in international markets. Vidyartha, Edurite, TutorVista — I don’t know how many more will be gobbled up by BYJU’s (now valued at $700–800M?). In March, Lightbox invested more in ed-tech startup Embibe, an online test preparation startup.

April saw Testbook, an online platform for material and practice tests for GATE, CAT and other competitive exams, raising $4M in Series A from Matrix Partners India. GrowthEX, a platform that provides online courses and counselling, also raised an undisclosed amount in Angel funding from undisclosed investors in April.

Still April saw some funding traction with Jaipur-based eShiksa, an education management portal, raising an undisclosed amount from Cross Border Angels & Experts, an international angel network.

Come May and EdTech is seeing good money since last year’s drought. Overall, Byju’s raised around $130M in 2016 itself in multiple rounds — that accounted for 81% of all funding in 2016 in the education sector. Hope the trend is skewed towards more early-stage startups this year.