Educational entertainment has existed for millennia; for example, in the form of parables and fables that promote social change. In the modern day,it is in the form of television programs, films, museum exhibits, and computer software which use entertainment to attract and maintain an audience, while incorporating deliberate educational content or messages.
Edutainment caters mostly to the K-12 segment.Currently, the market size of edutainment-based products in India has reached $6 billion.In the last few years, the edutainment industry has beenseeing a revival, as many startups are coming up to cater to the rising demand in the sector.In this age of technology, most startups are concentrating on the Internet,via mobile apps and games, to cater to the audience.
ConveGenius, an edutainment startup, launched in January 2014, is an extension to such development in the edutainment sector, and is workingto create ecosystems that are designed to educate children by bringing in elements of fun, entertainment and associated rewards, simultaneously.
“Learning is driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational methods. Just providing quality digital content ensures learning for only those kids who are intrinsically motivated to study. Kids who prefer playing, watching TV, and fun, over learning, have to be extrinsically motivated,” said Jairaj Bhattacharya, Founder and CEO, ConveGenius.
Focusing on the need of children, the venture is creating pedagogical techniques and content that are entertaining, have inherent educational value and incentivize kids to learn so as to have more fun. “You can give your kids the best books or the best digital learning content, but unless the kid is motivated to learn by himself, none of these methods work. There is a lot of potential to innovate in this sector,” added Jairaj.
Addressing educational challenges
ConveGenius claims to be inspired by the thought of solving the education problem in India. “We believe that the traditional methods of just packaging lots of digital content on CDs, DVDs and online subscriptions are futile efforts at shoving technology down kids’ throats. There has to be a better way, a more innovative one,” said Jairaj.
The venture is making learning content completely free to the user. Jairaj said that the platform is different from other platforms, as all other content providers sell their content at premium prices. There will be no barrier to entry for the end user, that is, for a child to start learning from our platform. “Besides, our focus is to aggregate content of all the best players in the market and make it available in the right sequence and right manner, for the kid to best use it. Other platforms generally have their own content,” he added.
Setting up venture
ConveGenius was set up to target smartphone users in urban areas for the B2C channel. It aims to reach out to parents of middle-class and lower-middle-class households. It is also engaged with the government and NGOs for the B2B channel, where they buy this ecosystem, and make it available for children in schools.
The founders invested $70,000 of their own savings in launching the venture. The funding was spent on innovation and product development, apart from creating a good team to implement ConveGenius’s vision.
The first year annual turnover for ConveGenius was over Rs 1.2 crore. There are huge growth prospects in the edutainment sector,what with major players shifting their business model to gamification based approaches. ConveGenius is aiming to grow by 500% this year and reach 3 million kids by 2017.
The venture raised an angel round of $100,000 last October, and is currently looking to raise its next pre-Series A round with investors.
The major challenge for the edutainment sector lies in the fact that the B2B segment is not very business-friendly for educational start-ups in India. As far as the B2C segment goes, smartphones are currently not with children, but their parents. “Without a personalized mobile/tablet directed at children in India, there is a huge barrier towards adoption. Schools and learning centres have very high sales cycles and surviving via B2B business channels is impossible in the long run,” said Jairaj.
Besides, there is a lot of competition in the edutainment sector, with many startups vying to capture the space. Some of the bigger players in the ed-tech segment are choosing to gamify their products and are entering edutainment to increase their market share and improve revenues.
ConveGenius, which caters to the edutainment sector via mobile phones and internet, relies on the expanding mobile market in the country. According to the study of ConveGenius, there will be more than 650 million smartphones in India within the next four years. This is almost 50% of India’s population. Given that around 72.2% of India lives in rural areas, it is obvious that more than 25% of India’s population from the rural segment will be equipped with smartphones and internet via data connectivity. “It is only inevitablethat smartphones will reach the pockets of households faster than good schools, good infrastructure or good teachers,” said Jairaj.
“The core vision of ConveGenius is to enable every kid of the next generation to start learning for free at the click of a button on their parent’s smart-phones or personalized tablets. We aim to make access to education and learning content extremely affordable and bring the power to teach to smartphones,” adds Jairaj.