Vineet Gupta Jamboree founder talks about modernizing Indian education
A sudden disruption in education was caused by the pandemic, which no one anticipated. Schools and universities around the world had to close their doors, perhaps for the first time in modern history, when a virus on the loose and close contact were blamed for its spread. This largely accelerated the adoption of ed-tech in the country with parents scrambling to find the best solution for their children, says Vineet Gupta, CEO of Jamboree Education Pvt. Ltd
Success mismanaged? Why are ed-tech startups struggling this year?
Over 4 billion dollars were invested in ed-tech in 2021, making it the third most funded sector in the country. However, a year later, we hear of companies closing, layoffs, and teachers leaving platforms. Ed-tech companies are primarily affected by the lack of preparation for a world returning to normalcy during these testing times, says Vineet Gupta Jamboree Education.
Several factors contributed to the sudden reality check:
● There may have been too many dollars spent on marketing and advertising by ed-tech companies to grab market share. There were ed-tech ads everywhere during the pandemic. Several ed-tech companies have negotiated multi-million dollar endorsement deals with long-term extensions, which may be hard to honor during a funding crunch like the current one.
● Although accessibility was supposed to be a strength, paywalls that amounted to almost a year of private education became a deterrent for many students and parents. “It is important to understand that a large percentage of middle-class families do not pay school fees the same way they pay for yearly ed-tech subscriptions.” The ed-tech companies lost out on a key consumer base because pricing was not their strong suit.” says Vineet Gupta.
● Purchasing and hiring sprees: Top brass decisions to go on aggressive acquisition sprees and offer “too good to be true” compensation packages to poach talent left a massive financial hole.
● A constant negative news cycle clearly had an impact as well: The media, especially social media, continued to report stories about how these firms were treating their employees poorly, how their courses didn’t work, or how they hired teachers who made gaffes, which went viral for all the wrong reasons and further damaged the reputation of the industry as a whole.
● The success of India’s biggest vaccination drive and how it accelerated its normalization faster than expected: By the fall of 2021, schools had reopened in India after the vaccination drive and the virus was contained to some extent.
How will Ed-tech evolve in the future?
Companies in the ed-tech industry will have to find ways to adapt during this slowdown. Byjus has already diversified and opened physical centers, and Unacademy has also announced that it will open coaching centers nationwide, with the first one to open in Kota. Although this move by the latter did not go over well with traditional coaching centers, as was evident from a widely circulated video warning teachers against joining these ed-tech companies.
Experts believe that ed-tech companies should understand their role as a support mechanism rather than a full-fledged replacement for education. The industry as a whole also needs to be better prepared for turmoil, since it is evident that the first stress test they faced did not go well.
Education technology plays a critical role in providing access to education to millions of children across the country who still lack any form of education. They may be able to target this segment as their next target audience, but they will have to repurpose their entire business model to do so. In this regard, partnerships with government agencies would benefit ed-tech companies by giving them contracts to educate children outside the educational system’s reach.
“Ed-tech rules when physical classes were shut. In the long run, online and offline models of education will go hand-in-hand as Ed-tech consolidates and finds its place in the system.” concludes Vineet Gupta Jamboree Education founder.