The US, the UK, China, the EU and the MEA are the most preferred geographies for them
By Vaibhav Tamrakar
As the Covid-19 situation continues to disrupt lifestyles across the world, edtech players continue to leverage the opportunities they are getting with students and teachers working remotely online. More than a dozen Indian edtech players have successfully penetrated global markets, all in K-12, higher education, and co-curricular segments.
The prime geography for most of the companies who have expanded outside India has been the US. The reason for the preference is the huge total addressable market, and the ability of parents to spend more on online education. Recent research showed that for an online platform, while half of the surveyed Indian parents were willing to spend less than $65 per month on tuitions, at the same time foreign learners were willing to spend more than $75. This is one of the reasons for Indian edtech players who have been successful in establishing their brand internationally; they see a big chunk of revenue coming from outside India.
The high engagement level of foreign learners and teachers on these platforms is pivotal for these platforms’ success. For learners, the key usage criteria for a platform depend on the quality of content, teacher, teaching methodology, user interface and, of course, price. This is true for more than 50% of students who have taken online tuitions. For teachers teaching foreign students, as per the recent study for a platform, they spend more hours and teach a larger number of students compared to the ones teaching Indian students, but, in turn, also have witnessed an increase in earnings.
There are also some specific subjects and courses offered by these platforms that generate more revenue compared to others, such as mathematics, coding and online co-curricular activities. Although Indians are known for mathematics and the IT infrastructure here is huge, co-curricular is something that students and parents in foreign markets also tend to spend a lot upon, and hence this space has great potential outside India. According to the same study, foreign learners spend 1.5 hours to 1.7 hours per week in co-curricular activities, while for Indian students it is nearly 2 hours. Some of the Indian start-ups have tied up with foreign teachers to teach through their platforms. Doing this also helps the learners generate some level of comfort.
Since the influx of investments in the Indian edtech space since 2019 has been majorly concentrated in the top players, others have been struggling to gain on in the domestic space, given the massive competition between more than 3,500 edtech start-ups in India. Based on the potential of better revenue, and the fact that the domestic edtech market is on the verge of saturation, other small players can knock on foreign doors and capitalise on it. The US, the UK, China, the EU and the MEA are the most preferred geographies for them.
Marketing has to be a very important aspect in catching up with the target space, for a lot of audiences, peer-to-peer recommendations and social media platforms play an important role in generating awareness. While the behemoths of Indian edtech already invest a great deal in it, for other players the uniqueness of their product offering will be a key determinant, even though the quality of their course content, cost, teaching methodology and flexibility remain prime wants. Additional offerings for co-curricular can be add-ons here.
Since hybrid learning (online plus offline) is known to become a new normal in the post-pandemic world, it is yet to be determined what the closest split of learners choosing online-only, offline-only, and hybrid learning models would be. The digital penetration in education is projected to reach a CAGR of 4.4% by 2025, and online learning will continue to increase, even though countries plan to re-open their offline learning centres also. With the global edtech market to be estimated at around $105 billion in 2021, there are a lot of areas yet to be tapped by Indian players.
The author is senior vice-president, PGA Labs