Indian EdTech: The Unicorn’s Fall from Grace.

March 2020: Reluctantly preparing for my final year papers, I repeatedly peeked into my phone, checking the Education Minister for Maharashtra’s Twitter handle yearning for an update on the exam situation. Although, in my heart of hearts I absolutely wanted to fling my textbook away and chomp on a trashy snack while watching Netflix. In my moment of carefreeness, I absolutely forgot about the question concerning my postgraduate education.
“What Next?” began to haunt me. UpGrad came to my rescue. The Indian EdTech industry skyrocketed during the pandemic. Being a consumer of their offering, I owe them two whole years of my postgraduate education.

The unicorn of the Edtech Industry in India has galloped swiftly, sprinkling pixie dust on the way. The Industry through the extended pandemic was nothing short of a dream. Imagine being a wizard donning a funnily-shaped conical hat and vigorously stirring together a magic potion. This potion is a success recipe for the Indian Edtech. Add to the mix— increased internet penetration thanks to the arrival of Reliance Jio in 2016, a surge in accessibility owed to mobile phones, backed by strong government initiatives like SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active–Learning for Young Aspiring Minds), and the catalyst—Covid-19.
There you have it— A concoction better than Hogwarts’ Butterbeer!
In FY2020, India became one of the fastest growing Edtech Economies with about 360 million learners. The year 2021 added 4 Edtech giants to the unicorn club— UpGrad, Vedantu, Unacademy, and Eruditus. For venture capitalists, the Edtech economy in India showed tremendous potential. VC-backed massive funding rounds helped businesses like Byju’s and Unacademy acquire several smaller Edtech companies in 2021. 

An overview of Indian Startup Funding in CY21,
Credits: Business Standard

The extensive acquisition strategy is the proverbial “Big fish eats small fish”. Or, if you can’t beat them, buy them. Unsurprisingly, Edtech became one of the most funded sectors in FY21. (Refer to above graphic) 

But, these big fish can sometimes bite off more than they can chew.
The key difference between well-established companies and startups is patience. Startups attempt to achieve the organic growth of older firms over time, in merely 5 years. Evidently, the Edtech sector took a serious hit as the pandemic dwindled, with layoffs of approximately 1000 people across companies. Edtech Startups aim to identify and solve pre-existing issues like a grade-oriented approach unsuited to fit the diverse cognitive needs of students.

Owing to inadequate training, Indian students are often unprepared to enter the job market, A report by KPMG on The Rise of Digital in the Indian education sector, mentions over 82% of Indian children reported a loss of their learning, conceptual clarity, and foundational capacity caused by digital learning.

The rapid growth of the Edtech industry is the result of a successful marriage of technology and education. But this integration is to succeed, only if technology is complementary to learning, and not a replacement for it. While the Edtech startups were quick to adapt to the growing preference for offline classes, it’s about time they manoeuvred their business model, shifting focus from rapid to sustainable growth.

Delighting Clients

(Insights for this blog were taken from SCoRe’s masterclass)

PR professionals must be masters of client interactions. Fulfilling client needs is one of the important functions we must perform. But, to gain an extra edge delighting clients can work wonders for the business and help in profitability.

In a masterclass by Mr. Nikhil Dey, ED, Adfactors PR we gained a sneak peek into ‘delighting clients’ by the maestro himself. Mr Dey highlighted the importance of the power of listening. Listening must be accompanied by close observation. Listening with empathy is the best observation one can make. There are often visual and emotional cues to look out for, that can help you ace that client interaction! They are like little easter eggs, all you got to do is to look closely.
Self Awareness motivates you to look closely and helps to evoke empathy. As you look at the solution with much kinder eyes, your social skills begin to grow and develop. This is especially beneficial for PR professionals because that helps them self-regulate and measure words carefully before a conversation is started.

Mantra1: The power of listening + Empathy = Self Awareness

As students, our focus tends to be on becoming conceptually clear. While that makes us conceptually sound professionals, one must not ignore the importance of a little EQ in the process of our learning. We are often instructed to put our emotions to one side, adopt a pragmatic approach, and look at things objectively. Mr Dey encourages one to embrace those emotions enough to distinguish the real problem from the proxy problem- a term for the seemingly existing issue. But, he warns to steer clear from emotions that cloud one’s judgment. So, facts matter but emotions take the cake in crises. It is how sensitively you deal with the situation and prevent it from escalating.

Mantra 2: Clients don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.

PR as a profession is client-oriented. But, a single-handed effort is not going to win you that big client favour. It is a team effort to delight your client. As you make that strong team to address and service the client, you must remember another piece of crucial advice. View your client as a partner, as an ally and not merely an entity that you service. A client is your partner both in success and failure. This brings a sense of inclusivity, faith, and trust, facilitating better communication.

Mantra 3: “Make it a We-show, and not a Me-show!”

Emotions are great to have. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Yes, with absolutely certainty it is agreed upon that sometimes, emotions tend to cloud our judgement. But, to delight a client it is necessary to tap into their emotions whilst maintaining your personal emotional equilibrium. Don’t set aside emotions to find a solution. Harness their power to find it! You cannot solve a problem if you don’t go through the emotion!

Mantra 4: “Tap into Emotion. Harness it to get the solution!”

Using the above techniques, one can crack the code to decipher the real problem from the proxy problem, whilst maintaining our personal equilibrium, emotionally. An angry, frustrated client might not necessarily be worried about the targets not being met, the problem really bothering them would be an ailing parent, an unruly child or maybe even an argument with their spouse. One can sutely help to decipher the problem without violating personal boundaries to help the client process the issue better, bringing a solution to fruition.