The story of every engineering edtech startup in India; Start with Disruption, Cash on Confusion

They all start with the aim to disrupt education space (I am mostly referring to those who are into engineering centric education). Why disrupt, if you may ask?

  • Because degrees do not matter. Skills do.
  • Most colleges / formal education do not add value (the 4 year degree is a waste of time from application-based knowledge perspective)
  • You are better off learning hands-on from industry experts (than academia).

Fair enough.

After a few rounds of success and funding, what do these companies do? They launch PG courses (or degree courses in partnership with a no-name-yet-sounds-american university).

  • Costlier than entire engineering education
  • No guaranteed job placement (or salary hike/job growth)
  • Success is all about ‘learning the new new things, like AI/ML’ – but not on being industry-ready.
  • The entire narrative shifts to ‘DEGREE CERTIFICATE’.

What’s wrong with the picture? These startups are not disrupting the edtech space at all.

They are cashing on C word, i.e. CONFUSION.

These startups are adding more chaos in an already chaotic and (sadly) effed up market where students (especially from tier 2/3 colleges) often live on four lettered word.

 ‘HOPE’.

HOPE that getting a new ‘degree/certificate/extra credit course’ will help them get a better job.

HOPE that some great company will pick them up based on what they have learned (which is a mirage, in real world).

HOPE that they will have access to better companies and eventually a better life.


Students (and working professionals) are often confused and they often end up taking these courses and later regretting it (I have spoken to quite a few founders who have interviewed students/professionals who have attended these edtech courses and found no incremental knowledge difference to even justify the value of the course).

At scale, most edtech startups ARE TRYING TO BECOME another college, another university.

Maybe, these startups after attaining initial success realize that most people aren’t looking to upgrade skills and all they want is cool degree which looks good on CV? Iif yes, then where is the disruption?

Most are Cashing on Confusion.

At scale, every (engg focused) edtech startup is trying to be the same college education which it was trying to disrupt. Just a little bit costlier, though.

But then, the real model needs to emerge – which has more skin in the game (am not just referring to lambda school sort of a model – but there are many other ways to have skin in the game).

What do you think can really disrupt engineering education space in India? (Please share your perspective here).

If you believe in changing the status-quo and wanna discuss/debate, please feel free to email me (ashish@nextbigwhat.com).

Meanwhile the radio sings:

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
Total
5
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