Edutech Ecosystem Prospering India
Byju’s, a mobile learning start-up, expects to be a unicorn, or a start-up with a billion-dollar valuation, as it looks to turn profitable this year on the back of more than 400,000 students using its app to study school syllabus on their smartphones.
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The firm reported profits in the last quarter, but ended the whole year with a loss. Since launching its multimedia app in August 2015, Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran claims it has been downloaded eight million times and has converted over five per cent of its users to pay for the content to achieve revenues of Rs 60 crore last year.
“We have 89 per cent renewals on our paid app. This shows that students are liking our product,” said Raveendran. “We will be a profitable unicorn soon.”
The start-up provides a K-12 learning app, which offers learning programmes for students in classes 4–12 and for those preparing for competitive exams.
“We have cracked not even one per cent of the addressable market,” adds Raveendran. The firm, backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is also building courses to tap the international market and offer courses in local languages starting from Hindi next year.
The firm has raised $204 million from nine investors such as Sequoia Capital, Light Speed Ventures, and Aarin Capital, according to Crunchbase data. Other names to watch out this year in the edutech space include Cuemath, Superprofs, Zeroinfy, Tinytapps and Upgrad.
E-Learning Sector Looks Attractive
The e-learning market in India is estimated to be around $3 billion and it is growing. Take, for example, the massive open online course (MOOC) provider Coursera. With one million users, India ties with China as its biggest source of online learners after its home base, the US. That the market expectations from this business model are robust can be gauged from the fact that the firm has raised $49.5 million, coinciding with the US-based firm’s plans to tap the Indian market to increase its user base.
Online learning is attractive not only because learning is no longer tethered to a classroom and timetables, but also because software programmes can “seamlessly integrate social media, making it possible to create online communities that are course specific”.
Along with the traditional textbooks, blogs, tweets, podcasts, webcasts, online chats, discussion boards, virtual study jams ensure that learning becomes multidimensional. Online courses can also help all those who are already in jobs to reskill and remain competitive without taking time off from their careers.
However, India’s challenge is to make online education available for the less privileged ones. Majority of those registering for the courses have an undergraduate degree or higher and the courses are not being accessed by the less educated ones. Arguably, venture capital investment trends over the years have not helped the larger cause of education in India.
Nonetheless, the country is a growing market for Edutech startups where the scope is very diverse and promising.