Beyond WhiteHat Jr: The way forward for coding edtechs in India
There is nothing outwardly remarkable about Rani Pandit’s career as a coder. The 23-year-old developer started her career working for a relatively well-known pregnancy and maternity tech start-up, a rather mundane job. Consider his track record, however, and it becomes more impressive.
Pandit hails from Bareilly, one of India’s Tier 2 towns, and is the daughter of a mason. With limited access to computers and coding, her coding techniques are the result of a residential coding program called NavGurukul, which she joined when she was 18, fresh out of school. The year-long, fully donor-funded course was founded in 2016 by Abhishek Gupta, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and Rishabh Verma, a self-taught programmer. It all started two years before the creation of WhiteHat Jr, India’s most popular coding startup.
While WhiteHat Jr has ultimately become the poster child for coding education in slick urban environments, NavGurukul believes the real opportunity lies in the Indian outback. It and other relatively smaller edtech companies, such as CuriousJr, Coding Ninjas, and StayQrious, are studying markets in which users don’t always have access to technology and computers, much like the one Pandit hails from.
Coding education in India is booming. the
Student Coding Landscape in India
is set at approximately 20 million students across the country. Even the National Education Policy 2020, formulated by the Government of India, plans to teach coding to children from sixth grade. But increasingly, coding education is also hitting a wall in the country.
On the one hand, the space is filled with incumbents like WhiteHat Jr. and CampK12, and other big edtechs like Vedantu who have added coding to their repertoire. Not only do these companies have a strong grip on the market, but WhiteHatJr, for example, has a nearly 50% market share, according to a senior edtech executive.
The courses are not very different from each other either. “All live learning coding platforms are basically the same,” says a former senior executive at an edtech coding company. “There’s not a lot of differentiation in product, program, or pedagogy.” The executive and others The Ken requested anonymity as they did not want to be seen publicly commenting on their profession.
Take, for example, the one-on-one live class model. Not only do many of the major edtech companies follow this, but quality can also be an issue. No matter how much money you can throw at the problem, there are only a limited number of qualified teachers.
If saturation and lack of differentiation is one side of the story, the other is accessibility. Or rather its absence. Current offerings from different edtech coding companies serve only certain user segments.