Covid-led trends of online schooling, professional upskilling behind boost, says Omidyar-RedSeer report

Aided by strong Covid-19 tailwinds, the $735-million edtech market, which constitutes under 1 per cent of India’s $90-billion private education market, is expected to clock 120 per cent growth in calendar 2020 and exit the year at $1.7 billion, according to an ‘EdTech in India’ report by Omidyar Network India and RedSeer Consulting.

“Online education was a side show till the Covid-19 outbreak; now it is mainstream. The general perception till now was that nothing can replace face-to-face education, but Covid-19 has changed that perception,” observed Krishna Kumar, founder CEO of Simplilearn. “Enrolments on Simplilearn surged 30 per cent post lockdown in March, April, May because, with the economic slowdown, more professionals see value in upskilling themselves to future-proof their careers.

“Second, with WFH, professionals have more time on hand to invest in upskilling. In fact, we have also seen final year students enrolling for programmes which help enhance their skills and prepare them for jobs of the future. User engagement has doubled on our platform and marketing costs have gone down 25 per cent,” he said.

Simplilearn has helped over 10 lakh (40 per cent are paid users) professionals and companies across 150 countries get trained, acquire certifications and upskill their employees in cyber security, cloud computing, project management, digital marketing and data science, among others.

Great Learning, an edtech firm in the online professional education space, exited FY20 with revenue of ₹325 crore, a growth of nearly 150 per cent. The company has started FY21 with a 5X growth in its learner base due to increased interest in learning from professionals and college graduates who had to stay at home due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Bootstrapped edtech start-up IntelliPaat, which offers professional training courses and certifications on its platform, has seen a 25 per cent increase in enrolments on its paid platform and a 15 per cent increase on its free platform, during the lockdown. “We have attracted 12-15 per cent of incremental traffic to our platform during the lockdown, as many people who were working from home aimed to upskill themselves to stay relevant in the market. We grew by nearly 100 per cent in FY20 with revenue of $5 million and expect to exit this fiscal with 100 per cent growth,” Diwakar Chittora, founder CEO, IntelliPaat, told BusinessLine. The start-up which has six lakh learners from 55 countries is looking to raise $10 million in Series A to expand to Tier 2 and 3 cities in India and expand its international footprint.

Data sourced from start-up tracking firm Tracxn reveal that there are 4,539 active edtech start-ups in India, founded since 2010, of which, 435 were founded in the last 18 months alone. The total funding raised by these edtech start-ups founded since 2010 is $2.46 billion.

Change of course

Some edtech start-ups like Masai School, a military-style coding school, which offered on-campus training from 9am to 9pm, six days a week for 24 weeks, completely pivoted to the online mode soon after the lockdown. Its first remote course started in April with 93 students compared to just 35-40 on campus previously.

“We were contemplating moving to an online model for a few months but Covid-19 made that decision for us. Pre-Covid-19, we would receive 2,000-3,000 applications for a course, but for our April batch we received 7,000 applications as people look to develop new skills to enable career shifts,” said Prateek Shukla, co-founder and CEO, Masai School. The institution follows the ISA (income sharing agreement) model where students don’t have to pay a fee upfront when enrolling for the programme, but have to pay when they get a job with a salary of more than ₹6 lakh per annum.

“In a post Covid-19 world, it will not be a ‘winner takes it all’ scenario. We will see multiple winners emerging in edtech because India’s current edtech addressable population of 150 million cuts across city tiers, income groups, language proficiencies and curricula. The multitude of sub-segments and their varying preferences will make it less probable for edtech firms to cater to large swathes of this population,” pointed out Abhishek Gupta, Senior Consultant at RedSeer Consulting.