India's online education industry is expected to grow almost eight times to hit $1.96 billion by 2021, with the number of paid users rising six-fold from 1.6 million now to 9.6 million, says a joint report by search giant Google and consultancy firm KPMG.
Over the last two years, the number of online searches for education has doubled. Searches from mobile devices have risen even faster, trebling over the period, says the report titled 'Online Education in India: 2021'. The research covered over 3,600 respondents across 27 geographies, including metros and non-metros.
Interestingly, as much as 44% of total education-related searches are now coming from outside of the top six metros. Also, there has been four-fold growth in the consumption of educational videos on YouTube in the last one year, the report added.
By segment, re-skilling and online certification is the largest. In 2016, it was valued at $93 million, and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38% to reach $463 million by 2021.
Primary and secondary education has the largest addressable audience with a student base of around 260 million, making it the second-largest category in 2016. However, the report predicts that it will become the largest category by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 60% to reach $773 million.
Test preparation, a small segment as of today, is likely to grow at an impressive CAGR of 64%, becoming a $515-million category over four years, the report estimated.
“There are many factors driving this growth, including perceived convenience, increased reach and personalisation offered...High growth in education search queries is now coming from Tier 2 and 3 cities such as Patna, Guwahati, Aligarh and Kota, which points to the opportunities that growing penetration of smartphones and improving quality of internet have opened up," said Nitin Bawankule, industry director, Google India.
Education technology, or ed-tech as it is popularly called, uses technological advancements for new forms of learning. According to VCCEdge, the data research arm of VCCircle, the number of angel deals in the space has doubled between 2014 and 2016.
A bunch of ed-tech startups have raised funding over the past one year. In April, Mumbai-based Haygot Education Pvt. Ltd, which runs ed-tech startup Toppr, raised Rs 2.16 crore (around $336,000) in a bridge round.
India's most celebrated ed-tech startup, Byju's, raised an undisclosed amount in March from Belgian family office Verlinvest, just three months after closing its last round. The Sequoia-backed startup has raised around $170 million over the past year. Moreover, the Bangalore-based ed-tech firm's success story was recently selected as a Harvard Business School case study.
Earlier this year, another significantly funded player in the space, Cuemath, raised $15 million (nearly Rs 102 crore) in Series B funding from CapitalG (formerly known as Google Capital) and existing investor Sequoia India.
Ed-tech firm Simplilearn Solutions—which won the News Corp VCCircle education company of the year award for 2017—is looking to fuel its expansion plans with $30-40 million from growth-stage investors, as it eyes the ambitious goal of tripling revenue to $100 million in 2-3 years. The company has so far raised $28 million in venture capital funding.
Several other ed-tech startups have attracted investor interest, including eShiksa, Genext Students, Embibe and Nactus India.