2020 India & South Asia EdTech 100. Where are they now?

How are India & South Asia’s Top 100 EdTech Startups of 2020 performing and where are they now?

Education Intelligence Unit

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September 3, 2021

In November 2020, HolonIQ announced the annual India & South Asia EdTech 100 — a list of the 100 most promising EdTech startups headquartered in India and South Asia. As we open applications for our annual India South Asia EdTech 100, we take a look at where the 2020 cohort are now.

The HolonIQ India & South Asia EdTech 100 recognises the most promising EdTech teams based in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. This annual list helps to shine a light on education innovation across one of the largest education markets in the world, and the teams who are supporting educational access, efficiency and improved outcomes for learners.

EdTech in the South Asia region has seen significant growth over the past two years, particularly India, which is one of the fastest growing EdTech markets globally. The combination of India’s New Education Policy, which launched mid-2020 and represented a step-change in approaches to technology enabled learning, along with the impact of the pandemic, have catalysed India’s EdTech sector to new levels of market acceptance, usage and private capital investment. In 2020 alone there was $2.3B of EdTech venture capital investment in India, eclipsing Europe’s VC investment for the same period and just shy of the US figure. 2021 has seen an explosion of growth with $1.4B invested in the first half, again setting the benchmark for the biggest year yet in EdTech.

The Annual India & South Asia EdTech 100 recognises the most promising EdTech startups based in India and South Asia, which are privately owned and under 10 years old.

Governments and the media, institutions and investors, schools and educators, influencers and talent leaders from across the region and around the world look to HolonIQ’s India & South Asia EdTech 100 to understand the dynamics of innovation in the market. ‍

HolonIQ 2020 India and South Asia EdTech 100

HolonIQ's Scoring Fingerprint

In 2020, HolonIQ’s Education Intelligence Unit evaluated thousands of EdTech companies from India and South Asia, powered by data and insights from our Global Intelligence Platform and local experts. Each organization was assessed using our proprietary scoring engine and following HolonIQ’s startup scoring rubric. Our normalization algorithm ensures that individual scoring bias is eliminated to create an equitable baseline and allows experts to review their own ‘scoring fingerprint’ relative to other experts. HolonIQ’s startup scoring rubric covers the following dimensions:

Market. The quality and relative attractiveness of the specific market in which the company competes.
Product. The quality and uniqueness of the product itself.
Team. The expertise and diversity of the team.
Capital. The financial health of the company and in particular its ability to generate or secure sufficient funding.
Momentum. Positive changes in the size and velocity of the company over time.

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Where are they now?

Startups in the 2020 India & South Asia EdTech 100 have collectively raised over USD $6.8B since they were formed. Of that, $4.7B has been raised since 2020 and $2.9B/45 transactions since the list was announced in November 2020, strong indicators of the traction of these startups amid the competitive and growing market environment in the region.

What used to be a relatively bifurcated market with the test prep giant ByJu’s dominating among a flurry of smaller players, has rapidly turned into a more complex marketplace with the emergence of a flourishing next tier of high growth players and thousands of small EdTechs finding their niche.

At the big end of town, Bengaluru-based startup ByJu’s became a ‘decacorn’ (a startup valued at $10 billion or above) June 2020 and through 2021 has gone on to raise further funds ($950M in total) to support its acquisition appetite. Unacademy became India’s second EdTech unicorn in August 2020 and has gone on to raise $440M just a year later.  upGrad joined the list in August 2021, raising a $65M VC Round and the latest Indian unicorn is Eruditus/Emeritus also joining the list in August 2021, raising a $650M Series E.

The next group of startups raising Series B to D rounds are primarily in the K12 segment, including STEAM providers Cuemath ($40M) and Doubtnut ($25M), tutoring solutions such as Teachmint ($36M), curriculum and learning platforms, Leadschool ($30M) and Quizziz ($44M).

Along with these bigger numbers, smaller startups in the HolonIQ 2020 India & South Asia EdTech 100 have also actively been raising capital to support their growth with 25 transactions of between $1M – $20M since the list was launched. Startups such as AdmitKard ($1.3m), Pariksha ($3.8M), PlayShifu ($10M), BitClass ($2M), Leverage Edu ($8.5M) and FrontRow ($3.2M) illustrate the strong base coming through in PreK, Higher Education and Workforce sectors.

Exits, Acquisitions and Growth Activities

There have been a number of exit events for startups from the 2020 list including Great Learning, which was acquired by ByJu’s for $600M in August 2021. Vedantu and UpGrad, also on the 2020 list have been actively acquiring smaller startups to support their expansion.

In addition to fundraising, startups from the 2020 India & South Asia EdTech 100 have been building products, entering new markets and creating partnerships. ByJu’s is building out its presence in the North American market and has partnered with Disney, UpGrad continues to grow its higher education partnerships globally, Cuemath partnered with Google and launched in the USA, NoPaperForms was recognised in a SaaS leadership award, and iNurture, InterviewBit, Teachmint, Univariety and more, have launched new products and initiatives.

Register for the 2021 India & South Asia EdTech 100 launch webinar to learn more about the 2020 cohort and of course, be the first to know the 100 startups selected as part of the 2021 India & South Asia EdTech 100.

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