The week that was: From the rise of India’s edtech sector to building ‘Made in India’ apps

This week, we featured the product journey of Simpl, as well as the rise of Indian apps and Kagaaz Scanner, following the Chinese apps ban.

The week that was: From the rise of India’s edtech sector to building ‘Made in India’ apps

Saturday July 11, 2020,

3 min Read

The coronavirus pandemic has been a watershed moment for India’s edtech sector. The lockdown and fear of COVID-19 spread have taken schools, colleges, and educational institutes online. A report by RedSeer and Omidyar Network India has mapped the growth in usage from 2019 to 2020.

It revealed that edtech users — both paid and free unique users — in K12 and post-K12 segment have seen an increase, with the user base doubling from 45 million to 90 million.

According to the report, online education offerings across Classes 1 to 12 are projected to increase 6.3 times by 2022, to create a $1.7 billion market. The post-K12 market is set to grow 3.7 times to touch $1.8 billion. This will create meaningful opportunities for incumbent players and space for multiple new startups.

Edtech market

Image credit: Vigesh

From the education sector to building products. In 2014, when Chaitra Chidanand returned to India from the US, she was dismayed to learn that she wasn’t eligible for a credit card as she had never paid taxes in the country, and didn’t have a permanent address either. To make matters worse, it took her eight weeks just to obtain a bank account and a debit card

On the other hand, her husband’s friend Nityananda Sharma, who ran an advisory firm, also returned to Mumbai from New York at around the same time, and found that even his hedge fund experience couldn’t help him tackle the Indian banking system. It took him many application forms, a new fixed deposit, and multiple visits to the bank to get a platinum card.

Realising how complicated financial systems and products are in India, Chaitra and Nityananda launched Simpl in 2016. Bengaluru-based Simpl's an online payment instrument that works as an additional credit wallet, allowing a consumer to buy now and pay at a convenient time later. 

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The Indian government’s decision to ban 59 apps with Chinese links, citing “emergent threats” to the country’s sovereignty and national security, has turned the tide for many Indian apps. And as TikTok, CamScanner, UCBrowser, and ShareIt were banned, the spotlight turned on ‘Made-in-India’ alternatives.

Ordenado Labs, which was started in 2019 by IIT alumni Snehanshu Gandhi, Gaurav Shrishrimal, and Tamanjit Bindra, is the startup behind Kaagaz Scanner. Launched just a day after the ban, the app aims to replace CamScanner, which allows iOS and Android devices to be used as image scanners.

In fact, Kaagaz Scanner is the first Indian document scanner app that turns your phone camera into a PDF Scanner. The startup is incubated at NASSCOM 10,000 Startups Gurgaon, and was also part of the Axilor Ventures Accelerator Winter 2019 cohort.

India’s ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps has opened up the market for a plethora of short-video platforms that earlier ceded ground to ByteDance’s social media behemoth.

Shortly after the ban, two things happened: a) Several “TikTok alternatives” that were operating on the fringes gained ground almost overnight. As downloads peaked and video views surged, their servers crashed, and b) Social media incumbents like ShareChat and Instagram ventured into the short-video space with new products. was conceptualised in late 2018, when co-founders Vidya Narayanan and Lakshminath Dondeti realised that most existing short-video apps were broadcast-based, where creators posted videos, and the audience interacted with them through text comments. There was no scope for interactive video discussions. That is what they wanted to change with 

Edited by Suman Singh