How to Crack the Highly Competitive EdTech Sector in Asia In-depth research of the target demographics is of immense importance before venturing into the APAC market

By Nikhil Barshikar

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The education technology industry in Asia is the second largest across the globe, comprising a significant share of the global EdTech space with a potential market value of $5 trillion by 2020. While the US ranks first at present, the EdTech industry in Asia is known to have immense potential, with countries having education systems that are highly competitive. This, supplemented by the largest pool of students enrolled in K-12 and university, the rise in disposable income of the middle-class, higher ownership of smart devices and deeper Internet penetration has led to a rapid emergence of a fast-growing EdTech ecosystem in Asia.

Over the last few years, the growth of the EdTech space in the continent has been identified as a critical aspect of development for a better future. Therefore, with further aid of government policies, accelerators, incubators, venture capitalists and other key players, the industry in Asia is paving its way to becoming the global EdTech laboratory. The EdTech sector is projected to grow six-fold to have a user-base of 9.6 million worldwide, reaching up to $ 1.96 billion. Two Asian countries, China and India, rank in the top 3 countries in the EdTech space, and seven of the 10 rapidly emerging countries in the industry also belong to Asia. This only goes to show how Asia is increasingly becoming the hub for education technology.

To thrive in and make an impact on this market that is already brimming with phenomenal growth and immense competition, here are four factors to keep in mind and work extensively upon:

Cater to the Upcoming Trends

Every industry across all verticals has been facing changes almost every day owing to technological advancements. And since technology plays a foundational role in the EdTech space, catering to the upcoming trends will yield fruitful results. For instance, one of the major trends dominating the global EdTech space is the embracing of technological interventions such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR). Asia has always been one of the fastest adopters of technology. According to a research report by Global Market Insights, AI in the education market of Asia-Pacific (APAC) is projected to grow at an annual CAGR of 51 per cent till 2024.

Furthermore, an increasing demand for data-driven solutions and data analysis has also been observed. Gamification and digitalization of educational content have also emerged as major trends. Asia happens to be a market leader in the gaming industry. Bringing forth a product or a service incorporating all these trends can, therefore, prove to be a highly successful venture, attracting both investors and consumers.

Know Your Target Demographics

In-depth research of the target demographics is of immense importance before venturing into the market. The Asian market may pose a challenge owing to communication barriers and cultural sensitivity issues that the several languages spoken here bring with them. In fact, this fragmentation is one of the major setbacks behind a slower development of Asian EdTech when compared to the US market. Therefore, a start-up needs to be familiar with all these factors and offer modified products catering to these aspects to flourish in the industry. While China and India comprise the largest share, countries like Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, and Nepal are emerging to play a significant role in the industry too. Therefore, a start-up needs to analyse its target demographics and strategize accordingly to break into the highly competitive Asian EdTech space.

Foster Collaborations

To carve a niche in the EdTech space, enabling active collaborations with educational institutions would significantly help with reliability and efficiency. Through such an association, a start-up can not only find a target audience but also get the necessary feedback that would help improve their business model and product offerings. Furthermore, fostering an active partnership with schools and institutions will lead to a certain level of validation in the educational sector in general, thereby contributing to the robust growth of one's start-up in the segment.

The EdTech space in Asia has been observed to thrive more with a business-to-consumer (B2C) model when compared to the business-to-business (B2B) spectrum. The increasing partnerships between EdTech companies, educational institutes, content developers and publishers are leading to a phenomenal growth of digital content and e-learning services that cater to the rising demands. Therefore, fostering collaborations and becoming a part of this developing ecosystem can yield fruitful results for an EdTech startup in Asia.

Nikhil Barshikar

Founder and Managing Director, Imarticus Learning

His fifteen year career spans a variety of roles within Investment Banking, all of which culminated in the founding of Imarticus Learning, a leading player in Investment Banking & Data Analytics education. He began his career in the Corporate Finance division of the erstwhile Lehman Brothers at New York, following which he moved to Mumbai to set up Lehman's India operations. He has successfully managed large Operations, Technology, and Project teams at Nomura. His in-depth Investment Banking experience, ranging from strategic design to risk-free transition while handling large people driven organizations, has given him an excellent appraisal of the dilemmas faced by Financial Services and Analytics Consulting firms. This enables him to develop tailor-made strategies and solutions.

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