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Tendulkar to take the crease with Unacademy

Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar
(Image credit: ANI)

Even as Indian ed-tech leader Byju's, which is the principal sponsor of the Indian cricket team, is taking its strategic steps, one of its principal rivals in the market Unacademy has silently gone ahead made a killer move.

The ed-tech unicorn, which has investments from biggies like SoftBank and Facebook, has managed to get on board Indian cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar at multiple levels.

According to a news report in the Economic Times, the world's top-most run-getter in both Tests and ODIs has picked a strategic stake in the  Bengaluru-based Unacademy.

Tendulkar is also scheduled to helm live interactive classes that can be accessed free on the learning platform. He will also work with Unacademy on developing a deeper content-led partnership, the report added.

This is besides the fact that the 48-year-old Tendulkar, who continues to be a popular personality despite retiring from world cricket eight years ago, will be the brand ambassador for Unacademy.

Unacademy, Byju's take the cricket route 

The report quoted Tendulkar as saying: “I feel this is a great opportunity for me to be able to reach out to as many people as possible. We just spoke about a billion plus minutes every month. We want to reach out to billions of people. And the whole idea is to allow them to have this access to talk to me and for me to be able to share my experiences with them.”

It is interesting that the two ed-tech unicorns in India, Byju's and Unacademy, are using cricketing in their marketing efforts. It reflects the kind of hold that the game has over the youth, who of course are the targets of education platforms.

Byju's is the official 'Team India' sponsor, and its contract runs till March 31 2022. It came on board after Oppo, the Chinese phone brand, had to exit as the sponsor over prevailing sentiments in the country foll0wing standoff with China at the border.

Unacademy, for its part, is taking the cricket route not just through Tendulkar.

It bid for the title sponsorship of the IPL last year. Though it couldn't get it, it stayed on board as one of the official sponsors of IPL 2020 held in the UAE.

Unacademy is also the title sponsor of Road Safety World T20 Series to be held in Raipur from March 2 to 21.

The series will see in action stars including Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Brian Lara, Bret Lee, Tilakratne Dilshan, Muttiah Muralitharan and many more legends of five cricket playing nations – Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and India. The tournament is organized to create awareness towards road safety.

Ed-tech sector keeps soaring new heights

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The ed-tech sector in India has over 4,400 startups. It is said to be the third in the world, behind the US and China. 

India's ed-tech market size is estimated to grow 3.7x over the next five years from the current levels of $2.8 billion to $10.4 billion, says a recent report. Paid users are expected to touch 37 million by 2025. 

The reports suggests that ed-tech would go beyond supporting school curriculum and test preparation, to include skilling and learning management systems.

In 2020, Indian edtech startups saw an investment of $2.22 billion. It was remarkable considering that the industry had managed to get only $553 million in 2019.

Further, the National Education Policy (NEP), announced last year, also provides special focus on digital education and remote learning.

The policy also envisions a comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education given the pandemic and future lockdowns.

But are ed-tech companies greedy?

But along with growth there are also problems.

Many companies, sensing an opportunity for growth in these Covid-19 times, have been accused of going overboard in trying to lure parents to enroll their children on their platforms.

At one level these companies are accused of fleecing the parents with exorbitant fees. 'Greed' is one of the words that is being bandied about in the discussions.

Some of the teachers and educators who have worked with these startups have now become vocal critics of the marketing strategies of platforms like WhiteHat Jr and Byju's.

There is also question over the efficacy of teaching young children coding. A Delhi Court also did talk about the the pressures of online learning.

For the record, the education and ed-tech market can be divided into 5 segments: pre-K, K-12 and test preparation, higher education, continued learning and B2B ed-tech.