The covid 19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns saw a lot of people wanting to upskill or learn new things. This gave the already established ed-tech sector in the country a chance to get more attention with its user base doubling in size from 45 million in 2019 to 90 million in 2020, according to a report by RedSeer and Omidyar India Network.
The ed-tech market in India stands at $247 million currently, and is geared to grow into a $2 billion industry by the end of 2021 and into a $30 billion industry by 2025 as per projections. All this has come to the notice of investors as well, increasing the funding in the sector by four times between 2019 and 2020, Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) and PGA Labs.
AsiaBizToday is listing down a few of the startups that grabbed eyeballs and the headlines over the last few months.
Started in 2011 by Byju Raveendran, it offers tutorials on everything from school syllabus to competitive exam preparation on its app in the form of animated videos. In 2016, it became the first Asian company to receive funds from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. In 2019, it entered the unicorn club and is currently valued at $11.1 billion, one of the decacorn startups from India.
This year, Byju subsidiary WhiteHatJr was in the centre of several controversies, including one about false advertising. But there was plenty of good news around as well. Raveendran was nominated as a non official member of the National Startup Advisory Council in January. It recently byintroduced tutoring services in various Indian languages which helped the company gain new grounds.
It is an upskilling platform for working professionals cofounded by Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli and Ravijot Chugh. Established in 2015, it has emerged as one of the largest providers of higher education virtually, offering courses in collaboration with several top notch institutions like Indian Institute of Technology, Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and several international universities too.
In early 2021, it entered the competitive exams preparation space for government jobs, and plans to launch other competitive exams courses soon. Currently, it is in talks with different investors including Singapore-based sovereign wealth fund Temasek and World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) for a total funding amounting to $100 million at a valuation of $450-$500 million.
It started as a YouTube channel by cofounder Gaurav Munjal in 2010, and turned into its current avatar in 2015 with co-founders Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh. It helps students prepare for various entrance exams as well as for exams taken by education boards in India.
Throughout 2020, it acquired six smaller ed-tech startups in a bid to increase its offerings, becoming the top acquirer among Indian startups. This was also the year when it entered the unicorn club after raising around $400 million in more than 10 funding rounds in November 2020. It’s earnings increased by more than five times between 2019 and 2020.
It is an online professional certification provider, offering courses in niche topics like data sciences, cloud computing, machine learning and digital marketing among others. It was founded by IIT Kharagpur alum Krishna Kumar in 2010. Operating simultaneously from the US and India, it counts some of the best known educational institutions as well as tech giants from both countries as partners. These include Caltech, Purdue University, Duke University and National Skill Development Council of Government of India.
The covid pandemic helped this company become a truly global platform with user bases established in countries like South Africa, UK, Saudi Arabia and Australia. Other than the online classes offered by most services in this list, they also have lectures by subject experts that often include well known names.
This is an experiential learning app meant to teach concepts of STEM subjects to middle and high school students. Videos put up on the app are interactive and use advanced technologies like 3D simulation and augmented reality. It also offers free help to teachers in preparing lessons, which was lapped up by several private schools to equip their teachers to deal with the digital classrooms necessitated by the pandemic in 2020.
Subbarao Siddabattula, Charu Noheria, and Ilangovel Thulasimani launched the app in 2018. They were able to raise $5 million in series A funding, and recently raised $4 million in pre-series B which they will use for their expansion plan. The next big plan for the startup is to localise it’s content by making lectures available in various regional languages.
This is an online tutoring service where the classes are conducted live for school, extracurricular and after school competitive exam levels. They make use of a custom built technology called WAVE (Whiteboard Audio Video Environment), which the company describes as “Skype, but built for Vedantu”, to facilitate one on one learning.
Founded in 2011 by IITians Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain, Saurabh Saxena and Anand Prakash, the company claimed it’s valuation to be $600 million in their recent series D funding. During 2020, they claimed their revenue grew by 350%, the highest annual growth they have recorded. They also tasted another big success last year as their YouTube channel saw a nine fold increase in views which totalled to 510 million hours for the entire year.
Launched in 2013 by IITian Manan Khurma with the aim of filling the conceptual gaps in the understanding of maths, this platform now has a presence in more than 10 countries. The unique thing about the platform is that most of its educators are women, usually homemakers who want to utilise their free time. They conduct classes at their homes in addition to conducting online live sessions. It focuses on teaching elementary to high school level maths through games and puzzles among other fun ways.
After its recent series C funding, the company is valued at around $170 million. The platform claims it has enabled 100,000 students in understanding maths through 25 million classes. They are now looking at scaling up their operations in terms of number of centres as well as their online presence.
It has been offering career enhancement courses by means of live and interactive online classrooms since 2012 when it was established by Aditya Malik. Together with partners within academia including some of the most renowned institutions of higher learning like Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management, XLRI, MICA, Parsons School of Design, Jack Welch Institute and many others, it offers more than 250 courses.
Being the first to offer these services in the country, the company has grown a fairly big user base in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities. For the last few months, it has been on a hiring spree, even rejigging the top management. The company reported a two fold increase in revenue over a two year period in December 2020.
This service started in 2014 by educators Gaurav Garg and Abhishek Jain offers study material to aspirants of various government jobs and other entrance exams through pre-recorded videos. They impart these lessons to students through channels like YouTube, Telegram and their own app. Their YouTube channel, in fact, boasts of a 100 million organic views every month. Their paid app which was launched in April 2020 has more than 8 million users.
The company has been bootstrapped yet profitable since it’s first year. In fact, there has been a marked increase in revenue since the last couple of years. The expansion plan for the company includes increasing the exam categories they offer lessons in to include specialised exams in fields like judiciary, medicine, engineering and possibly board exams for various states.
The youngest among the startups in this list, it was launched in April 2019 by Sahil Sheth who sold his first venture Infinite Student to Byju’s. It offers courses in school level science, maths, English and coding in online classes for groups of students less than six in English and Hinglish. Teachers make use of animated videos, interactive games and ensure to personalise the course as per the students’ age and understanding.
In its two funding rounds, the company raised $10.5M in all. In late 2020, it got funding from various private and angel investors, a total of Rs 29.5 crores. It’s estimated valuation stands at Rs 255 crore or $35 million, according to Fintrackr.
It is evident from the future plans and trajectory of all these companies that the ed-tech space in India is only going to get bigger with time. The pandemic may have played the enabler but these services are making the education sector future ready since the pre-covid times. Currently, there are more than 32 crore students in schools and colleges alone, other than working professionals that many of these services are aimed at. This means everyone of them can have enough users and survive even after the pandemic.