What are the most successful Edtech business models in Asia?
And the Future of Edtech in the Region
In Asia, some of the most successful Edtech startups have adopted a freemium model where users are given access to a basic set of features for free and then an upgraded version of the product is offered on a subscription basis.
For example, Knewton (subsidiary of Wiley) offers free access to its basic platform while schools can pay an annual fee to unlock features and receive support from the company’s professional development team.
In addition, some Edtech startups have adopted a hybrid subscription model whereby users can pay to subscribe to individual courses or for access to certain features.
The most popular Edtech verticals in Asia
The education space has been one of the most active markets for Edtech startups in Asia with many companies focusing on virtual classrooms, online tutoring and learning management systems.
Virtual classrooms allow students and teachers from different locations to interact with each other through real-time video and voice calls while online tutoring helps students prepare for exams or assignments through one-on-one sessions with expert tutors.
Learning management systems are platforms that help schools manage their curriculum by providing course materials such as textbooks and videos as well as data analytics tools that track student performance.
Another popular Edtech vertical is the testing space. Many startups have developed online tools that help teachers create and administer exams through a cloud-based platform.
For example, Edtech startup Takarajimasha has developed an online service called Takaru which helps students prepare for university entrance exams such as the Japanese National University Entrance Examination and the National Center Test for University Admissions, a test that covers four subjects including math, physics, chemistry and English.
The challenges faced by Asian Edtech startups
One of the biggest challenges faced by Edtech startups in Asia is securing funding.
While many Asian countries are working to encourage investment into education technology, there’s still a lack of venture capitalists focused on this sector in Asia.
As a result, many startups have turned to crowdfunding platforms such as StartUpAsia Club to raise funds or receive feedback from potential customers.
In addition, some companies are turning to angel investors or incubators such as JFDI Ventures (now defunct) or HHL Accelerator to help them secure funding and grow their business.
Edtech startups also face competition from large technology companies such as Google and Facebook who offer similar products for free but still face significant barriers to entry.
This is particularly true when it comes to virtual classrooms where schools usually prefer paid tools because they’re more reliable than free alternatives that can hamper student performance due to poor video quality or connection issues.
Another challenge is scaling.
Many Edtech startups are still in the early stages of development and don’t yet have the resources to expand beyond a few schools or regions.
In addition, many startups face difficulties when it comes to adapting their product to local languages and cultures.
For example, while online tutoring platforms such as TutorABC have expanded beyond China into other countries such as Korea and Thailand, many of these companies have faced difficulties in tailoring their products to local markets due to cultural differences in learning habits or the availability of English language teachers.
The future of Edtech in Asia
One of the biggest opportunities for Edtech startups is improving education quality through data analytics tools. Many companies are currently developing solutions that can analyze student performance data and provide recommendations on how teachers can improve their teaching methods or individualize lessons for students based on their past performance.
In addition, many companies are working on customizable learning services which allow students to study at locations and times that suit them better than conventional classroom courses.
As more schools adopt online platforms for their curriculum, Asian Edtech startups will face increased competition from large technology companies who are offering similar products at no cost.
In response, many startups are focusing on improving the quality of their offerings to differentiate themselves from larger companies.
For example, Edtech companies that provide virtual classrooms are upgrading their software to include new features such as real-time video broadcasting and live chat sessions that allow students and teachers to interact with each other more closely.
Finally, while Edtech startups in China and India often face obstacles in expanding beyond their home countries due to language or cultural barriers, many regional Edtech startups are targeting emerging markets in Southeast Asia such as Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Early stage companies such as Cudy Technologies have already made inroads into the region by setting up local offices to provide localized services.
In summary, Asia is a fast-growing market for Edtech startups due to increasing investments into education technology, rising demand for affordable learning tools and the popularity of online education.
As a result, Asian Edtech startups are developing new technologies to improve student performance, expand their business beyond their home markets and compete against larger technology companies such as Google and Facebook.
About the Author
I am an educator have over 3 years of experience in product management, technology leadership, startups, angel investing and Edtech. I an EdTech startup Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co) to help teachers teach better and students learn better using videos and interactive activities. If you are a teacher or student, signup for free at https://cudy.co/sg/register to start teaching and learning better today.
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