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Schools and education systems are evolving, yet are plagued with speed of scale due to inherent issues that are wired into the system. Although access to education has been the largest problem India is working towards, the core challenges that need to be solved in parallel revolve around – 1) Personalised/customised learning has not been possible 2) Quality of teachers has been a big concern in India, especially at bottom of pyramid level 3) Delivery (means and methods) of education.

According to World Health Organization, 80% of the educational material is remembered by visual means, 90% through interactive lessons and only 25% retained from one-way verbal lectures. Traditional methods of learning in India have continued to evolve around learning driven by fear of exams.

These are cues of where the real opportunity for startups to tap into edtech business that is projected to become a $2 Bn market by 2021. So, what are the essentials that an entrepreneur must look out for when building a business in this space?

Who is your real customer?

The starting point begins with identifying the key stakeholders in this line of business – students, parents, teachers and school management systems. While this may seem a simple idea, more often than not, businesses miss out on the real customer here – the student. It is important to ensure the student likes what you create. And that becomes your fundamental starting point. Most often businesses think that parents or schools need to like their product since they are ones that are paying. It is, however, important to note that if you engage the student, parents and schools will be happy to support their learning.

A great part about targeting students is the ‘domino effect’. If you convince just a few students, the ripple will bring in other students too.

Once you’ve identified who your product is built for and catering to, what are the essentials your product should be built and developed around?

The delivery mechanism

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Edtech, by virtue of the word stands for ‘enabling education using technology’. The delivery mechanism hence should be technology. While this is a given and understood, the fundamental focus of your delivery mechanism should be such that it caters to the 2 essentials of a successful business – 1) Scale 2) Sustainable growth.

Scale, because it enables ease of deployment. But achieving this is easier said than done. Your product needs to be intuitive enough to avoid costs of training on product usage and logistics to achieve scale to the best.

Sustainable growth comes from scale and another important factor that technology brings in – analytics. Understanding product performance and usage on a regular basis allow course-correction and further development on a steady front. Growth comes from this dynamicity around your product, your offering.

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So what part of consumer behavior do you look out for in your analytics?

The core metrics

The more we like something, more is the time we spend with it. ‘Engagement’ in terms of the time spent with your product is hence a crucial metric. To drive engagement, focus on the quality of content your product delivers. At an advanced stage of business, consider personalized content targeted towards the student to drive higher engagement. Understanding of personalized content in the education sector will come from data of student’s performance. Develop and deliver on this analytics.

An absolute in the education sector, especially K12, which is 73% of the education market, is that students tend to stick to what works for them, through the years of their education. This makes the opportunity huge. There are not just different grades, but different subjects through those grades. This makes ‘long-term retention’ an important metric to look out for.

Your content, tech and product teams should be dedicated to these metrics. The content team builds on making it engaging, tech team builds on personalizing & effective delivery and your product team builds on market requirement.

With basic level challenges in the education sector, there is a large opportunity to create an impact. With the impact comes a market size that is only destined to grow. Government, investors are keen and on the outlook for opportunities to enable this sector into scale. Identifying businesses that are set to deliver is being done through various government initiatives like the Innovation Fund and investor-driven competitions. It’s all about improving what’s happening in school, after-school and at home in terms of learning in a way that the student finds it interesting.

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