With the conventional and remedial teaching methods of the classroom teaching becoming obsolete and thing of the past, the new Education Technology (EdTech) revolution is upon the vast demography of learners across all age-groups in India.
The humongous gap in learning levels caused by social, economic, geographic and myriad other factors puts India at the risk of under-utilising or losing out on the untapped capital of human potential and this is where startups like Byju’s, Unacademy, Toppr, etc. have stepped in and put the foot on the gas.
The gargantuan rise of EdTech startups in India, if nothing shows one thing, you don’t need to be an Ola or Flipkart to breach the billion-dollar mark and be good in business. Any idea that is novel and path-breaking in itself and has the potential to bring about a change in the lives of people is a game-changer.
Talking about changing the game, the first name that props up in our mind is ‘Byju’s’, a Bangalore based company founded in 2008 by Divya Gokulnath and Byju Raveendran which through its Byju’s learning app, which was launched in 2015 and has learning programmes for students in classes IV-XII, along with courses to help students prepare for competitive exams like JEE, NEET, CAT, UPSE, GRE, and GMAT has taken the EduTech environment in India by storm. As of Friday (February 7), the Bangalore based company said that it has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from General Atlantic. Though the company did not share the amount of funding, it has said that this is the same round which was announced in January where Tiger Global invested around $200 Mn. The round had reportedly valued Byju’s at a whopping 8 billion dollars. Currently, the tech behemoth has 42 million registered users and 3 million paid subscribers. Students are spending 71 minutes on the app daily and the annual renewal rates are pegged at 85%. Byju’s has also tied up with Disney to launch its educational services for kids in classes 1st to 3rd. BYJU’S Early Learn app for young children aged between six to eight years old has Disney’s stories and characters from Disney Princess, Frozen, Cars, Toy Story franchises and more.
Byju’s close competitors include Unacademy and Toppr, who are working towards dominating the Indian EduTech segment, which is expected to be a $1.96 billion market by 2021. Unacademy, which much like Byju’s also offers online tutoring to students was set up by Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh in 2015. The company offers test series, personalised feedback, and one-on-one interactions with educators for various competitive examinations, including UPSC. Unacademy has raised $110 million from social networking giant Facebook and US private equity firm General Atlantic on Thursday according to an ET report, at a post-money valuation of $510 million.
Existing investors like Sequoia India (Interestingly, Sequoia is a common investor between Byju’s and Unacademy), Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital and Blume Ventures also participated in the round, apart from investments by Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy. As of February 1, Unacademy Plus had hit $30 million ARR. Generally, ARR refers to the yearly value of a single subscription. Unacademy, which focuses on preparing students for competitive exams, said it would utilise the money to increase the number of competitive exams it currently services, bring top educators onto its platform and improve the quality of content. Munjal also said the company is planning to offer online coaching for state service examinations in Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and other states.
Byju’s might have put Indian EduTech on the global map, but increasingly, the space is more than just Byju’s. Between 2014 and 2019, a total of $1.802 billion was raised by EduTech startups across 303 deals. Technology is playing a pivotal role in bringing radical changes in this relatively new sector and will continue to shape and bridge the teacher-student relationship by offering better accessibility, distribution, and formats of delivery. The competition is definitely going to spice up given that Mukesh Ambani has also thrown in his hat as he has bought a 38.5 per cent stake in Noida based startup Extramarks. Other players like Toppr, CollegeDekho, etc. have also started to ramp up their projects and it means only one thing. Exciting times ahead for the EduTech startup culture and we would not be surprised if some of these startups become a major international success story for the country.