Over the past year, there have been numerous articles trying to explain why edtech startups in India are failing. If you believe the rhetoric, the Indian edtech market is in dire straits with little to be optimistic about. Challenges such as long sales cycles, the number of stakeholders, and a lack of differentiated products are all cited as causes for concern.
However, there are many markets all over the world where these challenges exist, yet edtech businesses there have succeeded to meaningfully impact the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Given the struggle that Indian edtech businesses face, looking outside of our own bubble may help entrepreneurs understand what it takes to build a successful business.
Where do we look to understand edtech trends?
Historically, we have looked West when assessing trends in the edtech space. However, we have increasingly found ourselves looking elsewhere, namely China. There are a couple of key reasons for this.
Willingness to spend
Private spending on education in both India and China is consistently amongst the highest in the world. Driven by an education system that places a premium on high test scores and an employment market that requires employees to attend prestigious colleges, parents are constantly pushing their kids to excel at school. This drives the market for “fringe” education products. These include MOOCs (massive open online courses) such as XuetangX, which give users access to high-quality degree courses, language learning platforms such as VIPKIDS, which connect American tutors with Chinese children directly, and after school tuition platforms like Changingedu.
Understanding how these Chinese companies have been able to take advantage of this willingness to spend on education offers valuable insight for Indian edtech entrepreneurs.