Why the sudden interest?
Back in the day, learning was restricted to the walls of the classroom alone. Today, we have reached a point where learning happens at the convenience of a click. The new-age parent is constantly on the lookout for holistic child development opportunities. Additionally, education has become a top priority across every section of society. Given our age demographic, it's a no-brainer that there is a huge market for education services.
There are two main problem statements that plague this sector, which with the advent of technology can be/are being solved at scale, thereby piquing investor interest.
Providing education to all parts of a large country like India has always been a challenge for every government of the day. Lack of physical infrastructure and qualified faculty, low quality of education were typical problems that plague the system. However, the availability of 3G/4G high speed internet and affordable handsets has made education accessible to all. Technology allows a child in a remote village to access the same level of education on a phone, that a Tier-I city kid might consume, thereby unlocking a huge part of the market.
Secondly, for a long time now, experts across academia and industry have been pointing out that curriculum in schools and universities is no longer keeping up with what is required in the real world. There needs to be an overhaul in what is being taught and the way it is being taught to ensure relevance and employability for our future generations. With the rapid rise of technology, a lot of jobs, skills that exist today will no longer be required a few years down the line. This has created a massive opportunity for new programmes, curriculum to be taught.
With the sudden boom in terms of internet connectivity and the availability of low-cost data, technology has played a key role in advancing the education sector.
Where does the opportunity lie?
Nowadays, not only children but even adults are constantly looking at upskilling to be relevant. This opens a new opportunity for edtech players in terms of offering new re-skilling and upskilling courses which help in career advancement.
Another very interesting area is holistic development for children. The conversation has moved beyond just marks and grades to development of creativity, soft skills in a young learner. Parents are always lookout for interesting courses and are now enrolling their children in courses that spur creativity, innovation, experimentation and soft skill development.
SaaS platforms that allow educators to take their teaching online thereby allowing them to scale and teach a larger audience are also picking pace.
Recent studies show that the online ED TECH market is expected to reach 3.5Bn USD by 2022 (Red Seer Report). This is no surprise given the advantageous nature of the edtech sector.
So what makes the edtech sector a bullish investment?
Top quality education is the need of the hour. Globally, education has become an important dialogue, nations are constantly working towards bettering the quality of education. From a consumer point of view, education enjoys top priority in each and every household. It has the potential to enjoy a disproportionate share of wallet/spend in a household. After all, you don’t have to convince a household to spend on education.
Another key advantage is that this sector is absolutely recession proof, learning never stops, does it? Even during a recessionary environment, spending on education hasn’t slowed down. The rapid growth of online education across age groups during the pandemic is testament to this fact. Parents have adapted to online learning to ensure their children continue to learn and gain knowledge. Professionals are looking at the downturn and job loss as an opportunity to upskill or reskill themselves to make themselves more relevant and sought after in the job marketplace.
Role of technology & adoption of online learning enables ed-tech companies to scale the offering to millions of households, thereby creating an opportunity to build large highly profitable businesses in a short span of time.
To conclude: a massive market with unmet needs and the entry of relevant and improved product offerings with low-cost technology to drive delivery and reach is potentially a massive business opportunity waiting to be explored.
(The author is a seasoned entrepreneur and the co-founder of Playydate)
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