New Delhi: From platforms offering online lessons, NEET/JEE and UPSC coaching and coding classes, to those allowing mid-career opportunities to bolster one’s educational qualifications, edtech has taken off in a big way in India, with Covid-19 providing a big push to start-ups in the sector.
Several start-ups involved in edtech since before the pandemic claim to have grown in light of the ensuing lockdown, which led schools and colleges to be shut down and precipitated a job crisis spanning many sectors. The newer platforms, meanwhile, entered the market as the pandemic took root and managed to register thousands of users within months.
According to a report released this June by the Bengaluru-based management consultancy firm RedSeer and Omidyar Network India, a Mumbai-based equity investment company, edtech users — both at the school and higher education levels — doubled to 9 crore from 4.5 crore between 2019 and 2020.
The report estimates that the edtech sector in India will be worth $3.5 billion by 2022. Individual players in the Indian edtech sector offer a similar assessment, saying the popularity of the platforms is likely to continue in the future, even when colleges and schools resume normal classes.
In a press statement released in June, BYJU’s, which caters to tutoring across different levels, quoted an April 2020 report by market intelligence firm Sensor Tower to claim it was one of the 10 most downloaded education apps in the world during the lockdown.
According to the statement, over 60 lakh new students joined the platform in March, when schools and colleges across India were shut down, and 75 lakh in April.
upGrad, an online higher education platform, said in a statement released last month that it had recorded 50 per cent revenue growth in the second quarter.
“Higher edtech leader upGrad released the Q2 business performance results, which reports a 50 per cent growth in their gross revenue, thus keeping the company on track for its forecasted (sic) Rs 1,200 crore annual run rate,” the statement, released 6 October, read.
Among the newer platforms, Tinker Coders and Hex N Bit — founded by the same company, Stemrobo Technologies — came up during the pandemic and claim to have registered significant growth since then.
Established in March, Tinker Coders helps school students learn coding. According to a statement released in October, within seven months, the company has seen a “200 per cent upsurge in its profitability”. The company says it now has more than 2,00,000 subscribers in 200-plus schools.
Hex N Bit, launched in April, offers industry-connected skill development courses to students and professionals. A statement from the company said in October that it has over 50,000 users.
Talking about the need to start these two platforms during the pandemic, Stemrobo co-founder Rajeev Tiwari said Tinker Coders is aimed at tapping the “potential demand for coding in the K-12 sector (kindergarten to Class 12)”.
“Whereas, the growing demand for AI, Machine Learning, IoT (Internet of Things) and robotics, along with vocational courses among students, from undergraduates to professionals, made us come up with Hex N Bit,” he added.
Uable is another new player and seeks to help make children as young as six “future-ready” by exposing them to different career streams such as writing and game-designing. It had a beta version since February this year, but the platform was officially launched in September and the company says it already has 25,000 registered users.
“At Uable, a child can role-play as an author, an entrepreneur, an experimenter, a detective, a game designer, an astronaut, a journalist, a scientist etc,” Uable founder & CEO Saurabh Saxena told ThePrint.
Edubull, a platform that came up in 2019 and offers preparation for exams such as JEE, NEET, Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) and others, also had a similar story. Other offerings of the platform are free online learning and courses and programmes for all age groups — from one-year-olds to those in their 70s.
“The basic ideology behind Edubull is that we want to make online education accessible for all kinds of learners in all age groups. We have video courses, curated courses, notes, sample papers and other things on our platform. Everything that a student wants is available on the platform,” Edubull co-founder Aashi Sharma said.
A statement released by the company in October said Edubull experienced a massive growth of 400 per cent in new users amid the lockdown.
Talking about the growth in the Indian edtech sector, Sharma added, “Everyone was forced to upgrade themselves during the pandemic, someone who was only catering to K12 expanded to higher education and skill development also. The kind of growth that would have happened in the edtech sector in five years happened in the last nine months.”
The pandemic has also helped entail growth for Yocket, a platform that helps students find options to study abroad. The platform has been around for a long time, but it claims to have witnessed an expansion in its user base during the lockdown.
“There are a good amount of students who are looking for options to study abroad and we help them find options. During the pandemic, we opened up our free consultation lines, so that students who need help can speak to the counsellors because it was also the time when everything outside was closed,” said Yocket co-founder and higher education expert Sumeet Jain.
Jain added that all the different edtech platforms that have emerged in India, “(catering to) almost every field from test prep to coding and some that are giving online certification, all of them will carve out their own niche ultimately”.
Saxena of Uable agreed, saying edtech platforms are here to stay as the future of learning “will be in a blended mode”. “The online education space with edtech platforms is the next big thing. It has already been growing over the years but the pandemic gave it an impetus… It’s here to stay in the long run. Even after schools and colleges go offline, people will still continue to be on these platforms as they have a lot more to offer.”
This report has been updated to clarify that not all the platforms mentioned are apps