Since his student times, Ruslan Tymofieiev (Ruslan Timofeev) liked different educational smartphone apps. One of them offered him to memorize a dozen new English words per day in a playful way. As he recalls, another app helped him to train oral counting and the third one trained his skills in solving logic problems. All of the above-mentioned applications relate to EdTech, a field of digital tools for learning and self-development. Even educational YouTube channels can be classified as EdTech. Now, Ruslan Tymofieiev is an IT investor and the founder of venture capital fund Adventures Lab. And EdTech is one of the areas that Tymofieiev admits to being the most interesting to follow as an investor.
The global EdTech market is growing rapidly every year. Digital services—from online translators and grammar proofreaders to online learning platforms—are in demand by people with a passion for self-education. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected a lot this area: millions of people started to learn new things, being locked down within four walls during the qauarantine.
In this direction, Ukraine is still at square one. Tymofieiev admits that there are excellent EdTech startups in Ukraine, such as “rock star” Grammarly and the growing by leaps and bounds Preply. However, as the Adventures Lab founder notes, Ukrainian investors are still skeptical about investing in digital education.
A cocktail of serfdom and bureaucracy
Last year, the investment fund Adventures Lab financed Belarusian startup EduDo. The founders came up with a service like TikTok that allows users to upload informative three-minute videos. By watching such videos, people can study different disciplines, and then consolidate what they have mastered by filling out a mini-test. Ruslan Tymofieiev got interested in the project’s idea as he also made time for self-study every day. He considered education through video to be convenient, practical, and modern. For this reason, Chinese media startup ByteDance has recently taken to filling TikTok with popular science content. The representative of the company Sachin Sharma emphasized in one of the interviews that the request came directly from users. That is, the initiative comes from the bottom. How can this be explained?
According to research by analysts at McKinsey, Generation Z considers education to be one of the best investments. Therefore, modern youth strives for self-development. But unlike previous generations, they approach this issue pragmatically. The school curriculum does not properly develop critical thinking, offering only memorizing large amounts of information. One friend of the investor, who had previously taught at school for a long time, once formulated an accurate insight: “Today’s school education is a terrible mixture of serfdom and bureaucracy. They teach you to memorize as much information as possible and to be obedient. There is no place for creativity, uncomfortable questions, curiosity, free-thinking.” Ruslan Tymofieiev says that people endured it somehow. And today’s teenagers no longer want to bother …….