Understanding the e-learning market in India

It will be a long long time before good old classroom teaching disappears (perhaps never) but alternative methods such as e-learning is certainly picking up. Suburban schools that flaunt “smart” classes and a digital teaching experience stand testimony to the fact that technology is making inroads into the vast education sector of India.

Dorai Thodla, the founder of iMorph, does some common sense reasoning on his blog to try and solve an important problem—how do we educate a large number of people? E-learning is one way to go about it. His thoughts follow a provoking op-ed piece by an American educator in the Seattle Times which says that online learning is a con and turns colleges into assembly lines. It brings us right into the classical debate—should you just learn or learn how to learn?

That’s something for later but for now, we have been hearing a lot of buzz around e-learning, education start-ups and the works. Some say that e-learning is going to be bigger than e-commerce in India. Some say that it is the next big thing in the Indian start-up eco system. Some are calling it an under-penetrated market valued at $ 60 bn which makes us want what they are smoking. So we made a humble attempt to understand the market a bit.

Image: Educomp

Yes, there is room for growth and there are opportunities in the education sector, but if you look at the e-learning space alone, it may not be as big as it appears from the outside. To add a caveat, there is a good side to the story too and we aren’t talking about the e-learning offshoring market yet.

So what is the Indian market like?

Estimates by management consultancy Technopak pegs the current e-learning market in India at $ 150 mn, growing at 15% cagr. The key players include Tutorvista, Extramarks, Mathguru, Studyplaces, 100 percentile and iProf. The K12 market is seeing a lot of activity and most e-learning businesses are focusing on tutoring and enhancement of student learning experience and performance, says Enayet Kabir, Associate Director, Education, Technopak.

There is another market which is adjacent to the e-learning space– digitized school products segment. That market is reportedly much bigger. As pointed out by a recent article on Knowledge@Wharton, the market for digitized school products in which companies like Educomp, Everonn and NIIT are dominant players, is around $ 500 mn in private schools and about $ 750 mn in government schools. The private school market is likely to grow 20 % cagr to reach $ 2 bn by 2020 and the government school market is set to grow five times by 2020.

The rosy picture

Says Binny Mathews, Co-Founder of Dezyre.com:

There are over 100 million working professionals and college students in India. The Government estimates that we need 50,000 new colleges to train all these new skills (we have managed to build only around 30,000 colleges since independence) – hence online education is the only answer. Most of these 100 million people will need multiple skill-development courses in their career, hence leading to a multi-billion dollar opportunity.

Image: Sxc

Says Anand Nagarajan, Founder and CEO of Dexler Information Solutions Pvt Ltd

We will grow 3 – 4 times in the education part of our business which mainly caters to the college segment. In the corporate learning space, we are looking to grow about 50 %. Technology adoption is largely driven by campuses looking for differentiators.

Dexler is a 11 year old company with Rs 30 cr turnover (FY2012) and has been focusing on online education for the last 7-8 years. Nearly a fourth of the company’s business comes from the higher education segment.

Funding frenzy: Three in a month, more to come

August 27: Simplilearn, a direct competitor to Dezyre.com recently raised an undisclosed sum from IndoUS Venture Partners (IUVP)

August 17: Mumbai based Technium Labs digital learning platform LurnQ raised early stage venture capital from Seedfund.

August 5: Liqvid, an eLearning solutions company focused on English Language Training raised $ 3 mn from SBI Holdings, a large Japanese PE/ VC firm.

September 5: Arus Networks raises Angel funding from Indian Angel Network

Stay tuned for more funding news in e-learning.

Some that caught our eye

Itestwin.com: Aptitude, programming, English vocabulary.
Travellerkids.com: Children learn about the world
Gyaanexchange.com: Student, teacher community
Sharp Edge Learning Private Limited: learning solutions for engineering colleges
NaBh Tech Lab & Information Works Pvt. Ltd: Exam preparation on mobile
Ink Academics Private Limited: Smart learning solutions
last-bench.com: Bridging gap between traditional formal education and applied learning
Learnstreet.com: Learn to code

Submit your startup for review here.

Like Sanjay Anandaram of Seedfund points out, e-learning is a vast space and is certainly promising. Rest assured, this wont be the last you will be hearing from us on the topic.

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