The Big Billion Opportunity for EdTech & HRTech: Ashwin Ajila & Pankaj Bansal on Building It Up with Bertelsmann


In a country with a population of 1.3 billion, educational infrastructure can hardly ever be enough. As far as jobs are concerned, India’s highly regulated education system is churning out young professionals with insufficient skills and knowledge. As per some studies, approximately 75 million of its 400 million workforce needs re(skilling). As far as employability goes, only 7% of engineering graduates and one out of ten MBAs in the country are employable.

Luckily for the past couple of years, EdTech startups have been looking to fill this gaping hole created by conventional educational institutions, courses, and degrees. While some of these startups such as iNurture, Byju’s, Embibe, Unacademy, have registered healthy growth in terms of number of users as well as funding, experts feel that India needs more ‘patient’ entrepreneurs and investors to address the employment and employability gap in India.

“It took us five years to convince the first university to come onboard with our model,” says Ashwin Ajila, Co-founder and MD of India’s largest virtual university, iNurture. “Unlike startups in other domain, Edtech is not an easy entry-exit model. Everyone knows that there is a demand and a clear employability issue, what we truly need to understand is that the investment is for a long haul. It took us six years to turn profitable, but we did it.” adds Ashwin.

On the other side, tech interventions in the HR space are also signalling a decisive shift towards creating a more skilled workforce who can redefine the future of work. “From the initial belief of MNCs being the front runners of adopting HR technology, we today have Indian entrepreneurs investing in people practices and agendas,” says Pankaj Bansal of People Strong, a company that is transforming HR operations for companies in India.

Pankaj believes that the startups in the HR tech space are not only developing one-stop solutions to all HR-related challenges of companies but will soon disrupt India’s L&D sector in a big way. “In the future, L&D and EdTech will go hand in hand. The corporate employees will learn like students, and startups who will crack this will be the billionaires in the EdTech space”. In this episode of Building it Up with Bertelsmann, find out about the opportunities and challenges in both Edtech and HR tech, the evolution of gig economy in India, solid insights on how emerging and existing startups should innovate to make a dent in this sector and much more.

Click here to hear the full podcast.


Updates from around the world