The need for an undying spirit
Education gets attractive; but, we still need a better understanding of
By Satya Narayanan R.
Madhav Chavan (Pratham), Parth Shah (CCS), Shantanu Prakash (Educomp),
Rajendra Pawar (NIIT), and Shaheen Mistry (Akanksha) are some of the edupreneurs who have dedicated many years of their lives to education. While Shantanu or Rajan are the mainstream corporate entrepreneurs, Madhav and Shaheen have committed their lives to making a difference at the lower echelons of the socio-economic pyramid even as Parth toils away at policy-entrepreneurship.
To me, however, each one has been an outstanding entrepreneur who has added value to the field of education. Needless to say there are over a few hundred such people whom I have not been able to name here. The inadvertent contribution that these stalwarts have made has helped education become alluring and highly attractive for the entrepreneurship
aspirant (E-aspirant) of today.
The victims of this increased attractiveness are the top corporate guys, youngsters graduating out of a top college/university like an IIT or IIM or a Stanford, or existing and
successful businessmen who are looking for business
diversification and so on.
The slowdown of other sectors that were super-hot
over the last five years, have only added to the relative
appeal of education. However, there are many dangers that accompany the lure, if a new entrepreneur is not vigilant enough.
The dangers of
The idiotic thing about market economy is that most people who enter an area of entrepreneurship do so after there are a couple of success stories where an entrepreneur or a bunch of them have become millionaires or role models etc. I do not support such an approach even though from the perspective of an entrepreneur who is making a new entry in the industry, it is a very desirable thing to happen guarantying success from the industry and the consumer point of view. For example, as we go about expanding our chain of Indus World Schools, we are now inundated with applications at a rate of about 70 new ones per week who wish to set-up and run our brand of K12 schools.
The run-rate was about two applications in a month about a year ago. Most certainly, the stock market success of Educomp or the funding stories of FIITJEE etc are some of the reasons for the heightened levels of interest.
What you should be
There is going to be a huge deluge of new ventures in education in the near future, by existing as well as new entrepreneurs. The myth of easy-pickings in the education sector will get demolished. For instance, take a close look at the university market space, if you are skeptical of what I am saying. The new universities that got approvals through all kinds of means are now facing the market to make their projects viable and the job is definitely tough.
The good thing is that the consumer will begin to have a lot of choices and that will chasten the edu-entreprises to become more responsive and innovative.
The dotcom boom
The edu-space is entering a period akin to the peak period of the dotcom boom. The rush-in will happen over the next few months after which the shake-out is inevitable in the conventional spaces of education – mid-segment K12 schools and higher education. Dozens of funds and entrepreneurs will have burnt their hands as well as money by then.
Mercifully, new niches will have been created by the insightful entrepreneurs (from the old as well as the new guard) by then, who will emerge as the new forces to reckon with. Of course, the forward-looking and innovative funds that will back such entrepreneurs will earn the rewards of such an enterprising bet.
Attributes of success
Take a look again at the names of the people that I have mentioned above. They entered the arena long before any journalist wrote about education as a sector. They saw the future in advance. They also found it an area of inner calling to deploy their talent, time, money and life. Of course, they were guided by the circumstances and opportunities around them. But, they did and will continue to represent the spirit of education and social change through education. They entered the field without a guarantee of success (just as any entrepreneur does).
So, if you are attracted towards an area of entrepreneurship ask yourself this simple question, ‘Are you heading towards Education today (or any other space) because you are innately motivated to contribute to that field or not?’
Medicine for the
I am not sure if you are looking for a secret pill that will help you decide the course of action. Again, a simple question to ask yourself is, ‘What if there is no money to be made or a ‘Padmashri’ to be earned in this life time by pursuing this particular idea of entrepreneurship?’ Would you still be keen and happy following the idea? The answer that you find here could help you decide your course of action easily and lessen confusion. Entrepreneurship requires staunch dedication to achieve success and so does the field of education.
I just hope that many of you are undeterred (or even instigated) by this piece of advice, and will help build and transform our nation, through a lifetime commitment and an undying motivation, in the field of education. And, then you will have helped education become super attractive for the edupreneurship aspirants of the next decade!
— The writer is the director at Indus World School of Business, Greater Noida