Education Tech

Why India is the right place to build the next generation edutech start-up

Why India is the right place to build the next generation edutech start-up
Image credit: K.W. Barrett/Flickr

Education is the last frontier, untouched by technology.  The internet and the computer revolution have been instrumental in changing every aspect of human life – from life sciences to transportation, but the one area it hasn’t had a significant impact is the area of education.

While there are multiple companies that have tried, none of them have been able to become a household name.  The closest that comes to that level of recognition is the Khan Academy.

For a start-up to create next generation solutions – it needs both a market and access to the market. As basic as it might sound – India always had the market. In 2014, India had over 320 million students – the student population itself would have made it the 4th largest country in the world. However until now, there was no reasonably cost-effective way to reach them.

Riding the Mobile Boom

The mobile boom in the country has for the first time, created access. If you today have a fantastic mobile solution – be it about health, transportation, shopping or education – there are ways to reach out to millions of individuals through apps. Without the mobile phone network platforms like Google Play store and Apple store, it would have taken a huge amount of capital to just reach out to the target market and even then there was going to be no guarantee of success.

Beyond the market size and access – Edutech start-ups have to deal with a set of challenges that are rather unique to the space.  They have to deal with the student and every student is different. It takes a rather innovative solution to ensure every students’ need is taken care of and that the solution is scalable.

As the mobile phone has become the center of peoples’ lives – it is imperative that the solutions are being designed are appropriate and apt for the phones. I doubt anyone can watch an hour worth of TV on the phone, if they can’t do that – I doubt they would be keen to watch a professor drone on for an hour about a subject that a student wants to learn.

Catering Unique Challenges

The innovation will have to be in both how the content is being presented and how the student can be engaged over an extended period of time.  To build such a solution, you require innovative computer engineers and a battery of teachers. Both of these are available in plenty within India.

The unique to the challenge of education is that the reasons for lack of student engagement are the same across the world:  The lack of mentorship, lack of motivation, and the lack of a community. The solutions that can be built and tested in India can be globally relevant and applicable – now that is a BIG deal. There is a chance that the next big company in edutech will be from India – where else are going to be able to test solutions across 300+ million students?

Building Innovative Solutions

To build great content, tests and teaching material – India is pretty much the best option for the world. We have extremely competitive teachers and have quite a few of them. We could be building the learning and teaching material for the entire world if the edutech companies have a globally scalable solution.

The access to the market, the talent pool, the teachers and now – the capital as well is going to be a fantastic opportunity for the best edutech start-ups to originate in India.  It goes without saying that the country is in itself the throes of a one-time event – the growth of mobile.  Within the next few of years – everyone might have a smart phone connected to the internet and this is the time for the best companies to come up and make the best of it.