Navigating the choppy waters of Indian edtech
Blessed with a favorable demographic situation and bolstered by the pandemic, Indian EdTech startups went too fast, too far. They are now painfully paying the price of their hubris.
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A golden goose…
The potential of edtech in India would make any VC salivate. A massive market size (over 250 million students), a rapidly digitizing population, and the strong cultural importance of education all make the country rife with edtech innovation opportunities. India’s growing middle-class and overall richening population makes the target market more and more inclined to pay more and more for their kids’ education. Moreover, edtech startups are selling a product many parents consider a necessity. This enables them to play around with pricing, and as we’ll see later, has led to ethically questionable marketing tactics.
“The income inelasticity of education in India is estimated at 0.93 vis-à-vis other expenditure, implying that at any income level, Indians are more inclined to spend on education. Additionally, a National Sample Survey (NSS) on Household Social Consumption stated that there has been a 26 percent surge in out-of-pocket expenditure on education between 2014 to 2018.” - India Briefing
Edtech products also benefit from multiple attractive selling points. They can offer students bespoke learning experiences, compared to the one-size-fits-all model implemented in traditional schools. They can provide students in rural areas with top-notch education, directly on their mobile devices. Lastly, they can offer all of these services at a price far lower than top private schools, using the magic of technological ubiquity and scalability.