INDIAN EDUSTARS: Check out these edtech startup finalists who pitched at last week's EduStars 2012 competition in Bangalore. EdSurge friend Miheer Walavalkar of Teach A Class was there and shares some of his key observations and lessons learned from the judges' feedback and panel discussion:
Attendee makeup: "The audience was a mix of entrepreneurs, investors and potential recruits for the startups. If there were any educators there, they definitely did not make themselves known." (Surprise, surprise.)
What sorts of tools are these startups building? "Most startups are focused on providing new content to make education 'fun' for kids rather than on making teacher's tools. There's still an emphasis on test prep for higher education but mobile apps for early childhood development are also popular."
Are there pioneering schools willing to try them? "There are quite a few international schools that are good testbeds for new technologies. Some of these are nationwide--Ryan International, Amity International Schools, among others. Podar International School in Mumbai has been working with Khan Academy for nearly a year now."
Who's making the purchasing decisions in schools? "The teachers really have no purchasing power; the decision-makers are typically either school trustees or municipal corporations. One of the main points brought up was that the only viable way for vendors to reach end users was through a B2B2C business model (business to business to consumer)."
Is India really all about tablets? "It's not so much a problem about tablets or other devices as much as it is the problem of being able to use them to their full potential, given the current tech infrastructure. Internet penetration into all homes and schools is still lacking and feeding content via 2G/3G will be costly."
What are some of the bigger organizations interested in edtech investments? "Omidyar Networks, Acumen Fund, Central Square Foundation, Kaizen Private Equity, Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, to name just a few."