Wednesday , May 31 2023

Challenges edtech companies facing

Technology and innovation have touched every area of our lives. Education is not exempt from this march of technology-fueled revolution. Education Technology or edtech has brought classes and courses from all over the world to our screens. Someone with a smartphone and a working internet connection can easily watch lectures delivered by Harvard or MIT professors from the comfort of their home in Dhaka. Edtech has made education and learning more interactive and accessible with the help of technology. Companies like Khan Academy, Coursera, edX, Udemy, Brilliant, Skillshare, etc. do not just earn profits for their founders and shareholders, but also create value for millions of people all over the world. The broad field of edtech encompasses more than the hardware and software programmes used in remote learning or online education. It also includes theories of learning and increasing research into the most effective means of teaching people new knowledge and skills. Edtech has a unique offering, often not found in traditional mediums because their educators believe that each student learns differently and at different paces. Edtech offers an all-encompassing audiovisual solution to all learners. Bangladesh has seen many startups making big moves in the domestic market. The edtech space is no different. Big names like 10 Minute School, Onnorokom Pathshala and Shikho have made huge contributions to e-learning in Bangladesh. These platforms offer video lectures and courses on school, college academics, competitive exams, upskilling and so forth. Venture Capital (VC) firms have taken interest in this sector as well. Shikho, the first Bangladeshi edtech company to receive VC funding, raised US$ 1.3 million from Anchorless Bangladesh and strategic partners in late 2021. 10 Minute School raised US$ 2.0 million from Sequoia Capital in early 2022. Thrive Edtech received US$ 180,000 in mid-2021. VC funding has always been a key for startups to grow. The journey for an edtech company can also be intriguing. Proggo Pratik, co-founder of Thrive Edtech, shared their journey: “I had noticed many inefficiencies in traditional coaching centres in my time while teaching. It is difficult to pay adequate attention to each student in a classroom of many.” Thrive Edtech started in a completely different industry. “We used to digitise paper-based exams. We partnered up with some big coaching centres to provide analytics support. We were a B2B (business-to�business) company back then. But with the pandemic in 2020, all coaching centres were shut down with no restarting date in sight. So, midway through 2020, we changed our approach. And the final result is the Digital Coach app, which we launched in late January.” “From a founder’s point of view, the edtech scenario in Bangladesh is very interesting. We were the second company to raise venture capital, but there will be many more to come very soon,” he said. Most Bangladeshi edtech startups are still immature. Many are working to find a product-market fit while others have recently brought their product to the market. But even as competition gets fierce, much of the market is still untapped. “Market size in Bangladesh is US$ 10 billion, so many companies can thrive here as long as they offer a good product,” Mr Pratik opined. “Many new companies will be coming to the market, and most of them will be looking to raise funds. The next few years will be interesting, to say the least.” Edtech can offer a great career option for the youth of today. While the opportunity to work in a non-traditional, fast-paced and growth�oriented setting attracts many young talents, there is also the opportunity to contribute to society. The learners of today will become the teachers of tomorrow and build the nation. The reality is the founders are struggling to find capable employees. According to Mr Pratik, the biggest gaps in talent are in three areas: engineering, content, and product. “Capable engineers either opt for remote working opportunities for foreign companies or leave the country altogether. This makes it difficult for us to find talent in back end development. Content is also another area where we struggle to find talent. Making good content is essential for an edtech platform.” Finally, product management is another role that edtechs are struggling to fill. “Product management is still novel in Bangladesh. Countless companies across the world, including Thrive, have transitioned into being product-led. As more edtechs seek product�market-fit, this area will have a lot of demand for talent in the years to come.” Proggo Pratik also advised young individuals willing to work in edtech companies, not to stay confined to textbooks. “Keeping yourself updated is very important if you want to make a difference in education.” Bringing innovation to education is not easy by any means. But edtech companies and their dedicated staff have taken the challenge and the results are becoming more and more visible with the progress of technology and the internet.

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