Post Covid, ed-tech and offline players in the country are opting for the hybrid route, mergers and partnerships to build a long-term and sustainable business model, according to experts.
The future of the ed-tech industry in the post-Covid world is a combination of online and offline learning, with the omnichannel model being more sustainable even going forward, therefore, ed startups along with the unicorns are eyeing the hybrid retail model, TeamLease EdTech founder and CEO Shantanu Rooj told PTI. “With the pandemic ebbing, the world is moving towards a more sustainable format of education. As soon as the health crisis hit humanity, everyone, with the help of online learning, moved into a business resilience mode – Edtech came to the rescue. But that was during the pandemic,” he added.
He said online education, despite all its advantages, is not the solution to all problems and as the world goes back to normalcy, the industry has started going back to a hybrid mode of learning – the schools have albeit started going back to classrooms. “But those classrooms are different now. Focusing on a purely online model of education would limit the addressable market for many edtech companies. Hence, several edtech players, in their effort to make education effective and engaging, are using the hybrid route now to build a long-term and sustainable business model,” Rooj said.
Rooj further opined that the sector is also looking at consolidation and partnerships without which many start-ups, who can’t make their businesses sustainable, will have existential issues and might go out of business. Hence, larger organisations are evaluating M&A (mergers and acquisition) opportunities at a more reasonable valuation, he added. Echoing the view, CIEL HR Director and CEO Aditya Narayan Mishra said, over the last two years, the world has discovered the merits of online classrooms, leveraging new technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and online collaboration tools for learning and assessment.
“In-person classrooms, group working, brainstorming, laboratory experiments and many such methods continue to remain indispensable tools. Hence, the future of education is the omnichannel model,” he noted. He further said that most edtech companies are headquartered in large cities like Bangalore and they have started their hybrid models in Tier I and II cities, to begin with.
“We think that they will go to Tier III and IV cities soon. Also, there will be more consolidation, going forward, there will be specialised providers focused on specific cohorts and education will be omnichannel,” he added. Meanwhile, edtech company Imarticus Learning founder and managing director Nikhil Barshikar said, hybrid learning seems to be the most obvious choice to ensure uninterrupted learning as it gives students the benefit of flexibility through online learning and a chance to interact with their peers and mentors through offline learning.
“Professionals from top metros such as Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad showed the highest intent to upskill in 2021 and 2022, and tier II cities such as Nagpur, Ernakulam, Mysore, Jaipur and Indore emerged as the fastest-growing cities showing demand for upskilling courses. We have classroom, hybrid and online live delivery capabilities across India. We are also actively expanding our operations and penetrating new markets in tier I and II cities in India and overseas,” he added.
FIITJEE, an offline competitive exam preparation institute for the K-12 segment launched its e-school in February 2022 – FIITJEE eSchool Academic to expand its reach in tier II, III, IV cities. Partha Halder, academic head of FIITJEE eSchool said the institute focused on its offline classroom students first during pandemic and then decided to foray into the online segment.
“Now children can stay at home, without any need to relocate to other cities, save a lot of money from relocation or hostel stay, get that important emotional support from family during preparatory days, yet learn from the teachers of FIITJEE Delhi,” he added. Halder opined that venturing into the online space is not difficult, what is important is to have competent teachers who can guide students for competitive exams like JEE, Olympiads, NTSE complemented by a strong academic system and a process to support that initiative.