The Indian edtech market is on fire. With massive investor activity, a host of innovative startups setting up shop, and a number of users rising, the Indian edtech space has experienced an exponential rise over the past few years. Prerna Jhunjhunwala, an entrepreneur seconds the thought. “As per reports, India has the highest number of young people in the world - about 600 million people, more than half India's population, are under 25 years old. We are primed to be able to offer a substantive labor force to this world if the cards are played right. This labor force will need skill-based education and investors and edtech companies have been able to identify this user sentiment,” explains Prerna.
According to reports, the edtech sector in India is set to grow 3.7x over the next five years to reach $10.4 billion. The sector also emerged victorious in terms of most venture capital invested through 2020. While Byju’s was the startup to receive the highest investment in 2020, Unacademy recently joined the Unicorn club. These large players have also been acquiring various promising players and deal activity in the edtech segment has been on a constant rise.
A major contributor to this growth has been the pandemic-induced lockdown. As people were forced to stay indoors, more and more users relied on digital platforms in terms of learning and education. Prerna weighs in, “Throughout history, we have seen that for any endeavor to be successful, there has to be a lucky break at some point. For the edtech industry, the COVID-induced disruption was just that. Whereas online learning was considered to be no more than a value addition earlier, today it has morphed into a whole sector that has innovated itself to remain a relevant avenue for students. Technology will play an important role in making learning fun and engaging for children. They firstly bring accessibility to quality education no which part of the country a young child lives in. A good structures and holistic curriculum is available for children that can follow the child’s individual pace.”
Life Shaping Experiences
The founder of Little Paddington chain of preschools and Creative Galileo, an edtech mobile application, Prerna is a Bonafide edupreneur today. However, the seed for her entrepreneurial journey was sowed long back. Hailing from a business family, a young and impressionable Prerna would accompany her father on his work visits. Her father would acquire sick units (loss-making factories) and convert them into profitable business ventures. “Being a part of his journey, spending time in the factories, learning how to successfully u-turn a business venture taught me entrepreneurship very early in life. It became a part of me. So I effectively had the training to be an entrepreneur all my life so much so that when I started my venture, I understood things and was able to handle pressures easily,” narrates Prerna.
Her experiences as a young child left a deep impression on her. “Growing up and being a part of these factories in remote parts of India, I traveled across India. I continued to see this huge class divide in access to education,” says Prerna. These experiences shaped her beliefs about the criticality of children’s education. She goes on to add, “Children’s education cannot just be a transactional business but needs a lot of emotional investment as well. My vision in life has been to make early learning accessible to children, especially in my home country - India. It’s precisely why I started Creative Galileo – to use the power of technology and the internet and democratize education. My professional journey firmly reflects my personal ethos - that education must not be a privilege but the right of every child.”
Desire to Fix Gaps in the Current Education System
While Prerna is an entrepreneur and business leader, she is also a parent to a young child. She has witnessed in close proximity the limitations in the current educational system. She is also privy to the importance of early learning in a child’s academic life. “Even today, educational needs in several regions across India are underserved. On the one hand, we have parents who want their children to be well-equipped in this rapidly-evolving world while on the other hand, we have an outdated curriculum that struggles to keep pace with this need,” says Prerna.
Through her first venture, Little Paddingtonwhich was a chain of preschools in Singapore she strived to set the bar high in terms of pre-school education. “The curriculum framework is benchmarked against internationally acclaimed practices and is specifically designed to broaden a child’s intellectual horizons. My second venture is Creative Galileo, through which our mission is to modernize and upscale the education imparted to children in their budding or formative years through blended learning and innovative tech interventions,” explains Prerna.
Things to Keep in Mind while Designing E-Learning Platforms
Speaking about lessons she has picked up on her journey as an entrepreneur, Prerna says, “Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 job and you will need three things in abundance - patience, perseverance and persistence.”
Having founded two ventures in the space of education, Prerna holds a wealth of knowledge about what the industry requires. She says, “When it comes to e-learning, it is all about broadening one’s scope in academics and enhancing the learning experience. Today’s kids are quite well-versed with digital devices from early childhood and thus are well-placed to embrace supplemental learning tools that are available on the internet.”
Prerna further lists a few factors that entrepreneurs would do well to remember when designing e-learning platforms. The first she says is, Contextual content. “People watch content that they can relate to. Given a choice, an Indian kid will prefer content with an Indian character he has grown up watching over an American one. Therefore, it is important that content is personalized to the taste of its audience.”
The next pointer to keep in mind is ‘attention span’. She explains, “Kids have a limited attention span and any platform that is able to retain their interest will stand a better chance as compared to others. Simple things like more video content, pop quizzes and games over boring text go a long way in holding kids’ attention.”
Prerna further says, “It is well-known that each kid has a different learning speed. Hence, lessons must be broken down into convenient modules so that students can slow down when they’re learning a new concept or they want extra practice time, and they can speed up when they’re comfortable with a topic or have mastered it.”