India’s edtech sector is the next big frontier for Mukesh Ambani’s RIL

Mukesh Ambani. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is building a suite of diverse learning solutions for India’s vast edtech market, which is dominated by names such as Byju’s and Vedantu.

Embibe, a startup in which RIL acquired a 73% stake in 2018, aims to become a top player in India’s test preparation segment. It is building an artificial intelligence-backed platform to help students clear entrance exams.

Jio has launched more than 65 educational channels on JioTV with national and state-specific content, in collaboration with the Union ministry of human resource development, the National Council of Education Research and Training, and seven states through Embibe, Extramarks Education, and Jio Institute, RIL said in its annual report.

“Education is the next big segment for RIL, which will not only give it a large user base, but also strengthen Jio’s leadership position in the technology segment. Education is another route for RIL to enter every household and take a wallet share,” an analyst tracking the company said on condition of anonymity.

JioSaavn, Jio’s online music streaming service, is streaming education-related podcasts across 1,100 titles, while the Jio set-top boxes are providing access to 21 education-related applications. Meanwhile, Extramarks Education—RIL’s early childhood, K-12, and competitive examinations platform —is expanding across South Africa, Indonesia and West Asia.

Extramarks has 23 coaching centres in 17 cities, providing coaching for the Joint Entrance Examination for undergraduate engineering programmes, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for students who wish to pursue undergraduate medical, dental, and equivalent courses, and foundation courses, through new classroom technologies and top teachers.

Last month, Extramarks tied up with Pune-based Takalkar Classes to offer digital learning to students in Maharashtra. Besides test preparation, along with Takalkar, it also aims to tutor students from grade 6.

“Through our test prep solutions and Go-To-School program, we have already seen the power and potential of digital to transform the way learning happens in the country. In dire situations created by the pandemic, Extramarks students were able to pursue their studies with ease,” said Ritvik Kulshrestha, chief executive officer, Extramarks Education.

Last October, Extramarks partnered with realty firm Mahindra Lifespace to provide online learning to its customers, brokers, and employees at a discounted rate. Extramarks has more than six million students spending an average of 97 minutes every day on its platform, it said.

“Jio’s strategy of engaging consumers on its platforms is clear from the segments it has ventured into. Though the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology, we only see these segments making a material contribution to Jio’s numbers a few years down the line,” said the analyst quoted earlier.

RIL is also setting up Jio Institute, a multi-disciplinary higher education institution in Maharashtra’s Navi Mumbai. The institute will offer full-time academic undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral programmes. These would be research-focused and inter-disciplinary, and encourage students and faculty to pursue research to solve national and global problems. Jio Institute has signed memoranda of understanding for collaborations with global universities, including Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), University of Toronto (Canada), and the University of Manchester (UK).

Earlier this year, RIL’s rival Amazon entered education with Amazon Academy, designed to help students join India’s premier engineering colleges.

The article was first published on livemint.com.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.