The future of education technology companies is here. India’s premium education technology (edtech) company Byju’s that trains students for Indian competitive examinations like IIT-JEE, NEET, CAT and IAS, and international examinations like GRE and GMAT stands testimony to a profitable trend in the education business. According to a report by Kaizen equity fund, since 2007 private equity investors who injected a total of USD 1.1 billion in India’s education sector, are reaping the highest return on investments close to 21.5% IRR. Today, Byju’s has become the country’s No.1 edtech start-up with 70 million registered users and 4.5 million paid subscribers. Even Harvard Business School has Byju’s as a case study. It ranks among the top five most-valuable internet companies in India. In September 2020, after a fresh round of participation and funding of USD 500 million, through Silver Lake, BlackRock, T Rowe Price, the valuation of the edtech start-up is now – USD 12 billion.
In July 2019, Byju’s replaced Oppo acquiring the Indian cricket team’s jersey rights thus becoming its principal sponsor. In November 2020, BYJU’s became the title sponsor of the Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters FC replacing the Muthoot Group.
A small beginning
Byju Raveendran the founder of start-up Byju’s, born in 1981, is the son of physics and mathematics teachers from Azhikode village in Kannur district of Kerala. Raveendran’s love for teaching became prominent when after graduating in engineering, he started teaching maths to friends. His teaching prowess, pulled more students towards him, especially those who wanted to appear in the common entrance exam (CAT). In 2003, he decided to take the CAT himself and scored the perfect score of 100%. By 2006, he became a full-time teacher.
While his first formal class had 35-40 students at Jyoti Nivas College his second class held in an auditorium drew 1,200 students.
In 2011, he founded an educational company Think & Learn, to offer online video-based learning programmes. These designed programs catered to teaching the K-12 segment as well as students appearing for competitive exams. By 2015, Raveendran Byju had launched BYJU’S The Learning App. In 2017, he took the company Think and Learn a step further by launching BYJU’S Math App for children and BYJU’S Parent Connect app to help parents track their child’s learning course.
By 2018, Byju Raveendran won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Start-up category). He was even named in Fortune Magazine’s 2020 ’40 Under 40′ list under the technology category.
Byju Raveendran is now ranked 72nd among India’s list of top 100 billionaires of India.
Byju’s has received several awards of which few notable awards include:
- Business Standard Annual Awards for Corporate Excellence
- EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Start up)
- CNBC TV18 India Business Leader Awards (Young Turk of the Year)
- FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards
- Amazon Web Services Mobility Awards (Established Education App of the Year)
- Wharton Reimagine Education Overall Ed Tech Award (Best Educational App)
- VC Circle Awards (Education company of the year)
- Future of India Awards
- Global Mobile App Summit & Awards (Education)
2012 to 2017
- Think and Learn entered Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific and Deloitte Technology Fast50 India ratings.
Byju’s has acquired six organizations. Recently on September 18, 2020 during the global pandemic, the company acquired LabInApp, the virtual simulation platform for an undisclosed amount. Some of the other acquisitions include:
WhiteHat Jr (July 2020)
Indian start-up WhiteHat Jr acquired for USD 300 million to teach online coding to students through live interactive online classes.
TutorVista, Edurite from Pearson (July 2017)
TutorVista, Edurite from Pearson, USA one of America’s largest online tutoring brands.
Osmo (January 2019)
Osmo the play-based learning and educational games maker for children between 3-8 years acquired for USD 12 million.
Byju’s the Bangalore-based educational technology company is funded by 24 investors. Its total funding over 17 rounds has reached close to USD 2.1 billion.
Today BYJU’S investors include: –
- Black Rock,
- Owl Ventures,
- Tiger Global Management,
- Sequoia Capital India,
- Bond Capital,
- Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI),
- Silver Lake,
- Lightspeed Venture Partners,
- Brussels-based family office Verlinvest,
- Napsters Ventures,
- CPPIB, and
- General Atlantic.
BYJU’S is also the very first company in India and entire Asia to receive an investment from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) co-funded by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and his wife Priscilla Chan.
The latest funding was raised on Sep 8, 2020 from a private equity round where BlackRock and Owl Ventures have invested USD 200 million in the company.
The way forward
Byju’s though entangled in advertisement controversies in the past is raring to go forward. During the 2020 pandemic-related lockdowns, Byju’s says it registered over 20 million new students using its platform for free. As someone who has the first-mover advantage with a detailed financial model, Byju is the undoubted leader in edtech. As a leader in tutoring, the largest segment in parallel education, the company gets a fair share in India’s annual education spend of USD 133 billion.
Raveendran Byju through acquisitions has become a leader in digital content, games, apps, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and focussed learning. While the company has established strong roots in India, with its growing funding, is now looking to spread its wings in USA and other international markets.