BYJU’S Is Now Among the World’s Highest Valued Edtech Companies
December 24, 2018
India is home to one of the world’s fastest-growing edtech scenes. With an estimated 260 million students enrolled in more than 1.5 million schools and 39,000 colleges, however, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Among India’s hundreds of edtech companies, over the past decade, BYJU’S has risen above the pack. In fact, it is now one of the world’s highest valued edtech companies.
BYJU’S, named after founder Byju Raveendran, is a learning app. The app offers comprehensive learning programs in STEM subjects for students in 4th to 12th grade. It also offers test prep courses for India’s many competitive exams. If you’re based in North America, the best comparison may be the Khan Academy platform, which offers a similar range of services. But BYJU’S also has a unique founding story.
Soon after Raveendran graduated from university and started working as an engineer, he wrote the Common Aptitude Test (CAT), which students must take to gain entry to Indian Institute of Management colleges that offer MBA degrees. Raveendran wrote the exam just for fun. He approaches exams like games–as something to crack–and wondered if he could crack the notoriously difficult CAT. To his surprise, he did crack the CAT. He received a 100%. Thinking it was just a coincidence, he wrote the exam again and achieved the same score. Soon, Raveendran was offering courses to students in his own city. As his reputation spread, he also started to travel to nearby cities to offer courses to even larger groups of students hoping to ace the exam. This is how he refined his teaching method. As a trained engineer, however, Raveendran realized that he didn’t need to offer courses in person. Unable to meet the growing demand for his prep courses, he eventually developed and launched BYJU.
BYJU’S’ Phenomenal Funding Success
Since BYJU’S was founded back in 2008, the company has been attracting investors. In 2016, its reputation outside of India grew considerably when the company received a $50 million investment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In 2017, BYJU’S announced another successful funding round when Tencent Holdings put in $40 million. Earlier the same year, the company also received $30 million in a round led by Verlinvest. But none of these funding rounds come even close to BYJU’s most recent announcement.
On December 11, BYJU’S announced that it had just secured a staggering $540 million in a private equity funding round led by Naspers. With this funding round, BYJU’S has now raised a total of $775 million from investors. According to TechCrunch, this takes the company’s valuation up to $4 billion, which makes it one of the most valuable edtech companies in the world. In addition, at $4 billion, BYJU’S is now India’s fourth highest-valued tech company trailing behind only Paytm, Ola, and OYO.
But this raises an obvious question: What is BYJU’S planning to do with all its new funding?
As reported in TechCrunch on December 17, with an additional $540 million on hand, BYJU’S now plans to expand globally. Specifically, the company hopes to push into global English markets, with a focus on young children. Raveendran told TechCrunch that the decision is based on a recognition that “There’s a growing percentage of people wanting to learn English.”
To move into English-language markets more quickly, Raveendran has a clear strategy. As he told TechCrunch, “Over the last 12 months, we’ve scouted for core product acquisitions but went the other way around and decided to build it ourselves.” With the new funding in hand, however, it seems likely that BYJU’S will be engaging in at least some product-based acquisitions in the near future.
Whether BYJU’S can break into English-language markets outside India is yet to be seen. What is clear is that the company has already secured its place as one of the world’s most successful edtech unicorns.