Edtech Squeezes its Way into the Unicorn Club
COVID-19 and China
Education can change the world for better. Image Credit: fotografierende/Unsplash

Education as an industry that has pinned the hopes of hundreds of millions of families around the world for a better life, social progress, and national rejuvenation, education has undoubtedly been one of the areas of greatest concern to people all over the world.

EqualOcean has sorted out the list of "The Global Unicorn Club" released by CB Insights, and compiled 382 unicorn companies from July 2010 to July 31, 2019, consisting of around20 industries.

In terms of industry distribution, ranking first is the Internet software and service industry with 53 unicorn companies. Major industries such as e-commerce & retail (48), fintech (46), and health (32) have begun to take shape, and 12 unicorn companies have emerged in the education field.

EqualOcean has analyzed and explored various industries. This article will conduct an in-depth study of "Educational unicorns", focusing on educational brands in China and the United States, from the perspectives of valuation, establishment time, founders, countries, and time of inclusion in the unicorn list.

In terms of quantity, there are only 12 unicorns in the education field, accounting for 3.1%, which is equivalent to the number of unicorn enterprises in the tourism industry. From the valuation point of view, there is no super unicorn in the education field, and most of the companies have just joined “The Global Unicorn Club”. Among the 12 companies, nine are from China, far exceeding the United States (2) and India (1).

With six female founders/co-founders, education has become the industry with the highest proportion of women

After compiling the information about the 382 global unicorns which has always been a male-dominated entrepreneurial battlefield, but now there are more and more women breaking into the successful entrepreneurship, even though the current field founders/co-founders is still a minority.

With 10 female founders/Co-founders/Ceo’s E-commerce & retail is on top, while the education industry is behind it with a six. In terms of proportion, education industry is the industry with the highest proportion of women in all fields. Among the 12 educational enterprises selected, there are 24 founders, among which six are women, accounting for 25%.

Mother is probably the most powerful title a woman could ever have. Women however are a powerful and gentle force in the education industry. EO Company has recently written an analysis article on “The Rise of Women's Power in the Education Industry.” In a competitive industry these women are shaping a new era and bringing better education to their children.

Technology is the key to the rapid rise of enterprises

There is a contradiction between the demand for education and the supply of high-quality resources. It seems that it may be solved by technical means.

By organizing the information of these 12 educational unicorns, EqualOcean discovered that the innovation of technology and the model is the key to the rapid growth of these enterprises. Most of these unicorn companies were founded in around 2013. This year, the unprecedented combination of mobile Internet and education has promoted the historic upgrade of the education industry. The influx of Internet traffic into the education sector has brought about structural changes, and a number of online education companies have gained a chance to grow.

When we look at the model, the online education model is in favor, and most of them have been transformed through technology. Whether it is the reconstruction of the K12 education stock market, or the upgrading of vocational education, quality education etc., the development of technology is indeed the key.  

However, unlike other industries, the education industry is relatively difficult to get transformed by the Internet. At present, there is no change in the teaching process, enterprise income model, and operation in the field of education. In the era of artificial intelligence for the future, veteran players must transform themselves, and new players will also be poised to push competition to a new dimension. The intelligent education represented by AI has stood on the doorsteps of the education circle. On August 31, “The World Artificial Intelligence Conference-EO Company Forum” will further analyze the opportunities in the intelligent education represented by AI.

BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) actively take part in the educational industry  

If we look behind these 12 educational unicorns, we can find three familiar figures: BAT’s capital players.

As China's top technology companies, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have layouts in various industries, and the education field is one of them. Even though education companies may not bring huge income to the Big Three, BAT has been promoting the education industry through investment. 

We can see that among the three Tencent invested in the most unicorn companies. It not only invested in domestic unicorn companies like VIPKID, Yuanfudao (猿辅导), and Dedao (得到), but also injected capital into the Indian education technology company BYJU'S, which is also the world’s most valuable education company.

Indian education unicorn shines bright

The scarcity and uneven distribution of educational resources seems to be an important problem that plagues all countries in the world. From the perspective of geographical distribution, the education unicorn is almost occupied by United States and China. There are 11 unicorns in the two countries, accounting for 90% and the remaining one is from India. 

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Bangalore, India, BYJU'S offers courses for students of grades 6-12, as well as exam preparation courses for JEE, AIPMT, CAT, IAS, GRE and GMAT. With a personalized learning experience, an emphasis on application development, and a vast amount of teaching content, Byju's has received investment support from well-known companies such as the charity foundation created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the Chinese technology giant Tencent.

Among the Indian unicorn companies, BYJU ranks fifth in valuation, just below e-commerce company Flipkart, online payment company Paytm, budget hotel brand OYO and taxi software application Ola. In education, BYJU'S is currently valued at more than USD 5 billion and is one of the highest valuation educational technology companies worldwide.


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