RVC and Founders of EdTech Projects Discussed Investment in Education
At the High Season for Edtech panel discussion. Investments in education”, which was held on the second day of the Open Innovations Forum, were made by representatives of investment companies and start-ups implementing projects in the field of digital education. The main issues discussed by the experts: What criteria must national educational projects meet for successful development and what barriers do they need to overcome?
Alexey Solovyov, the Skolkovo Digital venture partner and investor in a number of educational projects, opened the discussion. He cited the data from the Online Education Barometer study, which showed that Russian EdTech start-ups are having difficulty finding investment and selling products. Most rely on their own funds, many start without any money at all, earning money from the first day of the product.
“There are many opportunities,” said the expert.
Alexey Basov, deputy general director and investment director of RVC, spoke about the features of the Russian educational market.
“The market for companies engaged in education attracts tremendous attention from the state. These are legislative initiatives and interest from development institutions. The venture fund to support advanced educational technologies, which was created by RVC in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development, is another example of government attention to education. Financial support for EdTech start-ups is by no means the only mission of the fund. In particular, he must remove the barriers that prevent educational projects from establishing a full-fledged dialogue with the state,” commented Alexey Basov.
Representatives of educational companies told how they see the market and what needs to be done to successfully scale the business.
Alexander Laryanovsky, managing partner of Skyeng:
“The market is in its infancy. There are leaders in certain areas — Skyeng, Dnevnik.ru, Skillbox. But there are no successful repetitions of their experience and practices. And it is not a matter of lack of funding — the demand for successful educational projects in Russia is huge, and the online education market is hundreds of billions of roubles per year. Apparently, the lack of staff for new serious projects plays a role.”
Gabriel Levy, founder and CEO of Dnevnik.ru:
“Unlike other EdTech companies, we are an infrastructure project. And the main problem is that it is not always easy to find mutual understanding with classical schools. To solve it, we need state support.”
Dmitry Krutov, founder and General Director of Skillbox:
“Our primary audience is people aged 22–23 years who already have the knowledge, skills and understanding of what they need for further development. And despite the fact that now there is a leading company in many areas, I’m sure that in two or three years a new generation of start-ups in the field of education will appear. The market for higher education, in my estimation, is 1 trillion roubles.”
At the end of the discussion, representatives of investors spoke about the most promising, in their opinion, investment niches. The Co-founder of TMT Investments Artem Inyutin noted that until last year the foundation had not invested in educational start-ups.
“But we see that this market is now growing rapidly, so we invested in MEL Science, a British platform for school students to study chemistry and physics, which combines visual lessons using VR/AR and practical experiments. Scaling up any start-up, including an educational one, is a very important task. Now MEL Science has three main markets — the USA, Great Britain and Russia with neighbouring countries. And we hope that next year the company will enter the Chinese market,” said Artem Inyutin.