EdTech has seen a massive jump in growth, leading to intense competition in the market. It is set to become a $10 trillion market, with start-ups standing on equal platform as large companies. To understand the business, start-ups can look up to the current unicorns who once started from the bottom. Studying these companies would prove the kind of commitment required to achieve in any field related to education.

It is impossible to ignore how far the current pandemic has pushed the necessity and importance of remote/online learning. A report states that EdTech is set to grow 17% by the end of 2020 and reach a worth of $255 billion. This is one industry that has seen a surge in both developed and developing nations. In fact, some Chinese and Indian companies stand ahead of American and Canadian companies in the unicorn arena.

The dominance of EdTech in the US has been powered by Silicon Valley, pioneering in several innovations in the industry. Countries with larger populations like India and China take advantage of their home crowds, while the US asserts global dominance with breakthrough ideas and innovations.

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Exploring Top Unicorns in the EdTech Industry

The EdTech industry is experiencing a dynamic and transformative evolution,  wherein certain companies have emerged as unicorns, achieving remarkable success and serving as valuable case studies for new ventures. These are the top unicorns from around the world :

1. VIPKid

As one of the largest online learning platforms, VIPKid regards the teaching quality as its highest priority. The one-on-one teaching, and strict teacher hiring policies have earned them a 95% student retention rate. Founded in 2013 by Cindy Mi, it immediately attracted several investors including Sequoia Capital, Tencent, Sinovation Ventures, and many more.

The success of the company can be seen in the fact that it was one of its kind when it began, and despite the rising competition over the years, it has managed to stay on top. The company reached its unicorn status in 2017, and is now at a valuation of $4.5 billion.

The future challenge for the company could be the usage of tech like AI. Although the learning is online, it does not employ too many techs to assist in teaching and learning. This is purely in comparison with the competition in the market although the firm is growing at a great pace currently.

2. Byju’s

When Byju’s was founded in 2016, personalized learning was a new feat in India. In spite of a large online space for learning, there was no common educative platform. This space was filled by the company and in a time of two years, it became a unicorn with a valuation of $1 billion. It also attracted big investors including Mark Zuckerberg, who pitched in $50 million.

When they became a unicorn, they were working with 85% renewal rate, and the retention rate is still going strong. Due to COVID, the company has made its content free for all students and has introduced live classes to increase student engagement.

Currently valuated at $5.8 billion, Byju’s journey from a normal video class to a full-fledged learning app is inspiring. The future lies in opening the app to the international market, and the firm seems to be well on its way.

3. Duolingo

The world’s most popular app for learning over 30 languages, Duolingo recently raised $35 million, pushing its valuation to $2.4 billion. In 2019, it became a unicorn when it raised $30 million, valuated at $1.6 billion.

The secret to such steep growth is their innovation by adding new products like podcasts. As they explore new arenas of learning, keeping with the market trends and staying relevant keeps the customers excited and happy.

The company has claimed that the learner base has grown by 30% and has registered 100% revenue growth for the last three years. The firm’s future plan is to go public, which will further increase its value. An important lesson from this journey is to stay true to the root idea, yet stay relevant to the market with smaller additions.

4. Udemy

Offering over 150,000 courses, Udemy has been used by 50 million students so far. When the firm was started in 2007, it was operating like a MOOC, and their attempt to raise venture capital funding in 2010 was rejected 30 times. It was the market reaction that attracted investors in their second attempt to raise funds.

As a firm, irrespective of how it performs in the market, not everyone buys the idea. It is important to analyze the drawbacks, and keep going. In 2016, the firm raised $60 million in funding. The latest funding has amounted $200 million.

The immediate future lies in expanding the courses offered, and to improve the standard of instructors. Although they have good instructors, as it expands, quality should not be compromised. The challenge they will face during this process is to educate the learners on the skills that are newly emerging and trending in the market. If they figure out a way to achieve this, there is no stopping them.

Observing the trend in EdTech, especially since the onset of the pandemic, it is clear that the rich companies are getting richer. Looking at the start-ups, companies like Quizlet, Coursera have become unicorns. They seem to be getting closer to the top companies in the market within a shorter time period. A late-stage funding can have a massive effect on the market, in a relatively new industry like EdTech.

While this growth is not surprising, the next set of big firms can emerge from Europe. Unlike the other countries discussed already, European nations have to strive harder and reach a global audience from the beginning to become successful. An advantage for these firms would be the fast-growing market unlike companies that faced a new world a decade ago.

EdTech is democratizing learning, and it is necessary to keep the learners happy and satisfied. The potential is vast, and investors are looking for good initiatives to put their money on. The companies can capitalize on this and stand as tall competitors to the top firms.

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