Building a ‘Perspectful’ EdTech Ecosystem in India

Building a ‘Perspectful’ EdTech Ecosystem in India
India’s education technology industry is poised for explosive growth over the next few years. Over the past 20 years, India has enjoyed an annual average GDP growth rate of 5.8%. Although recent months have seen a slowdown, analysts estimate a growth 
increase of up to 7.5% within a year. The mobile industry is slated to be the second largest market by 2016, and half of its 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25.

So if you want to make an impact in education at scale, India is the the place to be. Just ask serial entrepreneur John Danner, who co-founded Rocketship Education  and devoted a 4-part series on his blog outlining the insights from his travels there last winter.

While the opportunities seem exciting, there are many challenges in connecting Indian startups with investors around the world. Enter Perspectful , a newly launched advisory firm that helps investors make more meaningful and effective edtech investments. I recently caught up with one of the founders, Shabnam Aggarwal, to learn more about her take on the Indian education ecosystem.

What drew you to working in education in India?

I am a Bay Area native, and after studying electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon and working stateside, I realized there were more opportunities to make an impact abroad. In 2008 I moved to Cambodia to dive into the world of social impact. A year later I moved to India to work with a professor from Carnegie Mellon to build English games on low-cost mobile phones for children in rural areas.

This is when I became obsessed with the potential of technology to make an impact on student learning. In April 2012 I joined Pearson in India as the Head of Strategic Partnerships, where I spent a year working with local edtech entrepreneurs to determine how Pearson could support their work. During that time I crossed paths with Josh Engel , who became my co-founder.

What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?

Perspectful wants to channel more investment dollars to promising entrepreneurs in India by enabling more risk-tolerant foreign investors to enter the market and make an impact. Our efforts are focused on 3 core areas:

    • Sourcing: Identify education ventures that increase access and offer high quality learning opportunities

    • Diligence: Align and mobilize capital

    • Mentorship: Provide assistance to entrepreneurs on content, team, product, processes and technology

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