India’s education market is brimming with opportunities. With a market size ofUS$92.98 billion, the country is in dire need of education start-ups and supportingprivate capital to energise and innovate its education system.Elets News Network(ENN)in its survey of edupreneurs found a number of players who are taking strides and emerging successful in their ventures
These numbers present a story of underlying opportunity.There are approximately 1.5million schools in India, of which almost 400,000 schools are private schools. The education market in India is worth around US$ 92.98 billion and higher education contributes 59.7per cent of the market size. The market is expected to at 18per cent per year.With over 50 per cent of India’s population under 25 years old, giving India the advantage of the demographic dividend,skill development has attained utmost importance.
These figures are showing acceleration, and throw light on the growing Indian education market, and the in-numerable opportunities its offers; but more importantly, also highlight the gap between the educated population and employable population. Statistics reveal that less than 25 per cent of the graduates are actually employable. It is believed that based on the current and future manpower requirements of the various sectors, there is a huge demand-supply gap in the education space.
India is in dire need of such education entrepreneurs and supporting private capital to energise and innovate its education system. What most may see as a challenging scenario, an entrepreneur will see it as a right environment for coming-up with a start-up.
Abhinav Chaturvedi, founder, Gradians says:“Education is something Indian parents and students spend a lot of time and money on. In fact, after food and grocery, education accounts for the second high estdiscretionary spend in mid-income Indian families. So, the market potential is obvious.”
Shatru Naik, CEO, Maths9.com says:I believe in Steve Jobs quote, “Great things in business are not done by one person; they are done by a team of people. The main challenge I have is assembling the right “strategic core business management team. Also, differentiating between practice and learning products with parents and teachers. Making people to understand the need of practice tools initially is time taking.”
Education is a founding stone of any civilisation, pedagogy techniques have been evolving since ancient times and the trend will persist till the end of civilisation, hence education is one of those industries which will evolve with time. India is one of the global centers of education. India with school strength of 1.4 Million has huge potential. Indian ratings expect Indian education sector to increase to US $109.84 Billion, hence there is lot of opportunity in education sector in India
Speaking further about the importance of Entrepreneurship in the education sector, Gowdhaman Margabandu,CEO, Digital Future of Education says,“We want that an Indian product should gain prominence globally, and we are taking baby steps in this direction. The Indian market in education vertical alone is about US $90 billion. In other verticals we have a target market size of over US$ 200 billion.”
Ranu Kawatra, Co-Founder and CEO of Maxx English said, “India is at the cusp of huge growth and the all financial forecast from knowledgeable pundits bear that out. To do justice to this opportunity India is in dire need of an educated and skilled workforce and this need is felt by all stakeholders resulting in opening up a host of opportunities for the edupreneurs. The expansion of the rapidly growing internet footprint,accessible through both the large and small screen augurs really well for both the learner and the entrepreneur. How-ever along with this opportunity comes also responsibility to make a difference and people who keep this in mind will do well.
The development of human capital and economic capital in any country is in a large way related to Education.Considering the sheer demographics of the country, India is a very lucrative market. However, in addition to rich promises, it is also a land of contradictions and dichotomies. On one hand,we boast of the world class IITs and IIMs, while on the other we have schools existing without teachers and some maybe with just one student. Course birdie says that they have found out about the huge gap between student learning outcomes and market demand.
Statistics suggest that around 3-4 million students enrol for distance education programs every year and probably another 0.5-1 million students are pursuing online education courses. This market would currently be in range of $3-4Bn and growing continuously. Beyond this is the e-learning and digital content market where many course providers are interested to launch their courses in online modes.
In this background, Sasikanth Chemalamudi, CEO, Brainwave Edutainment said that the main motivation behind starting our venture is the scenario where more than 70 per cent high school graduates are not ready for college level science today. They either hate or fear the subjects.
Bala Bhaskar G T, Founder, Genius science academy says, “A major benefit and big Social Impact of edupreneurs introducing initiatives to use technology is penetration of learning at all levels. The inflation in economy is a resultant of low waged unskilled labour that is majorly high school drop-outs. The infra-structure and the teaching techniques in rural schools are the root cause for such a huge high school drop-out rate.”
One of the biggest challenges of online education is lack of trust for distance and online education. The situation is gradually becoming optimistic as more and more premium course providers are adopting online delivery mode. During the last few years there has also been a rise in the market acceptability of these courses but still there is a long way to go. Another challenge is to create more engaging models for delivery of education which can help attract more students and increase the level of interactions and completion rate. Many experiments are going on the education space to overcome these hurdles and we are optimistic as the constant evolution in technology will surely help in resolving these issues.We are sure that there would be increased trust for online and distance courses amongst aspirants and employers as more and more premium course providers come online.
For a startup, there are several hurdles to be crossed or questions to be answered on a daily basis let alone a period of two years. At an external level, we found it very difficult to get good quality educational content in a structured format for us to grow quickly. We had not anticipated that. While we knew this would be difficult, it was also much harder to convince students, in our earlier days, to adopt a newer concept from the traditional brands that have been around for years. Hiring, onlinepayments are other challenges that most startups face.
This becomes important in India where only 12 per cent of the address-able population goes to college and nearly 70 per cent of the population is in rural areas, education is considered a very important channel for socioeconomic mobility. Unfortunately, despite huge demand and need of education,policy framework in India has stifled access, quality and innovation in education.Even the traditional education companies are gaining an entrepreneurial mindset and are seeking a share of the growing and evolving education market.
A recent survey on Linkedin regarding ‘what is the biggest constraint insetting up a ‘high quality’ academic institution in India’ revealed that regulatory mechanism is the biggest constraint, followed by investments/funding. Some Indian education entrepreneurs are sensing the opportunity and are aggressively finding niches,models and structures that fall outside the regulatory mechanism.
Puranam Pradeep Picasso, Founder,Imbue desk says, “This is very common hurdle in young startups who got a team of all talented youth to make them sit together, plan together and then make them work together without disturbing their individual thoughts, freedom and actions. It took us a lot of time, around five months, to finalize a particular action plan of how to implement in as equential manner for overall development of students.”
Stud Bud says, “Being a B2B company is always difficult, especially in the education sector. Tying up with colleges has huge acquisition costs. Moreover,with the annual semester cycle being dispersed with multiple holidays, examinations and festivals, it is always more challenging to maintain a continuous stream of business and growth. In addition, since a large number of educational institutions are managed and owned by industrialists or businessmen, and not academicians, convincing them of the product is always driven by negotiations on pricing.”
When we talk about reason behind starting a new venture, it’s always something that you have seen happening around you. For me the reason was educating students in a way, which is simple and easy for them. When you start (Internet Startup or any other business), the biggest challenge is to make people use what you have created. Internet is a vast sea, and you must know where to put down your net to catch fi sh. Targeting the right audience is the key, and offering them something useful is a requisite.
“India has a huge market in the education domain. Especially in the higher education segment, where there are more than 5,000 engineering and management colleges, with nearly 800-1,000added every year, the market is close to 6+ million students going for either higher education or campus placements annually. This translates to at least $600million opportunity. There are specific education hubs in the country, with large number of institutions and universities,which are our primary focus.”
Moving beyond the‘Comfort Zone’
Another major issue is the adoption of new technology by institutions and the know-how to use it.
ALL Spark Learning, which started out to fill key lacuna in today’s learning environment says that there are various difficulties and hurdles en-countered in doing business on Ground level. These comprise lack of Management’s focus on raising the quality of education and its benefits on long run for the learners and institute, a new approach and product faces reluctance in adoption, lack of awareness over avail-ability of such tools which can enhance the process and the lack of infrastructure particularly internet penetration and its adoption in classrooms
Abhinav Chaturvedi, Founder, Gradians says: “Education is a high-stakes game for all concerned – students, parents and schools. More so, perhaps in India, where what a student can do next is determined (fairly or unfairly) by their performance on an exam. Because of this, there is also a lot of inertia and trepidation about trying something new concerning education. Hence, any education startup should be ready to give their idea time to take root. Learning to be patient will be your first challenge – and a constant one thereafter.The other challenges will depend on whom you are targeting – institutions or individual students. Each brings its own set of challenges. Institutions are easier to identify and c an get you many users in one go. But the sales cycles are typically longer. Individuals, on the other hand,make a quick go / no-go decision. Hence,with them, it is a question of putting the product out there and constantly looking for ways to improve uptake and/or improve engagement.
Archanalal, CEO, Book Street, who believes that students deserve a much more efficient way to study for their exams says that internet connection is still poor/ slow in tier two cities. However,this may not remain a concern over a period as the government is taking steps in this front.
Anirudh Motwani, Founder and CEO,Indiacollegesearch.com says: “Changing the mindset of decision makers at the institute level is always a challenge and a lot of people within academia are sceptical of technology. So the problems are similar to what any other industry(from travel to banking) faced while adopting technology and building dependency on software solutions, but change is inevitable.”
Subhash Chanda, Founder, Creatist in formed that one of the biggest hurdles they faced while conducting pilot trials in renowned universities was that there was no margin for error. “Another challenge that we faced in the first year was huge adoption inertia in educational institutes and that resulted in long sales cycles. This problem was almost non-existent in corporate organisations. But,we believe, that has happened because we were able to tune the product into something valuable through feedback from the early adopters” he said.
The service and education space is at a very dynamic space in terms of offline entities; however its online counterpart can still be termed as a virgin territory. This has resulted in both pros and cons for us. The biggest benefit has been gaining first mover advantage, but we at Urban Pro have constantly faced hurdles as well. Since the category is in its nascent stage, bringing affiliates on board in the beginning did prove troublesome.
For more stories on some of the best start-ups in education, log on to digital..digitallearning.eletsonline.com.