The app is clocking in Rs 100 crore each month and is targeting Rs 1,400 crore for the year.

BYJUs now valued at over 1 bn enters the Unicorn Club in 2018 Tracing its journey
Atom Startups Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - 20:45
Written by  Sanchit Khera

BYJU’s has been one of the most revolutionary educational startups in India in recent memory. After receiving $50 million from Mark Zuckerberg, it entered a valuation of around half a billion. In 2018, only a few years later, it has now entered the unicorn club being valued at over $1 billion. 

"I'm optimistic about personalised learning and the difference it can make for students everywhere. That's why it's a major focus of our education efforts, and why we're looking forward to working with companies like BYJU's to get these tools into the hands of more students and teachers around the world," – Mark Zuckerberg.  

The concept of personalised learning is a new one in the Indian startup sphere. While many startups focused on ecommerce and tech in 2016, Byju Raveendran wanted to focus on the massive Indian education space. He understood that there were distributed methods online for students to learn. However, there was no single interactive educational module that students could follow. That’s where the gap is being filled in the marketplace. 

“Our product is built on that strong belief that when students learn on their own, where they take the initiative, whatever you call learning, that counts for 50%. Unfortunately, today it’s 100% spoon-feeding in a lot of students’ cases, 100% learning for exams and not the other way around. The other way around is you learn such that exams are taken care of. They are just part of the process and not the end of it,” – Byju Raveendran.  

BYJU is now the 11th Indian startup to have entered the Unicorn club. In the case of BYJU’s, China’s Tencent and BCCL helped raise the valuation to about Rs 6,500 crore. The latest round of cash-infusion seals the deal on the importance of strategic learning in the Indian ecosphere. 

“This financial year (2017-18), we will end at around Rs 520 crore (in revenue). With the present renewal rate (of 85% by subscribers), we can be anywhere between Rs 1,200 crore and Rs 1,300 crore in FY19. This is the fourth consecutive year we are crossing 100% growth.” - Byju Raveendran.

The success story of BYJU’s starts from that of the founder himself. Byju Raveendran was one of the few people in the world who had a 100% score in the CAT exam about 10 years ago. He’s also a national math Olympiad winner and ultimately started a coaching class for CAT aspirants. The name of the class was BYJU’s CAT. 

A year later, he started recording videos and consulting online with students about the CAT exam as well. That initial boost led him to register his company “Think & Learn”, which helped younger students learn better through online modules. 

By 2012, he had already launched BYJU’s as it became a successful startup from the get-go. It was one of the fastest growing startups that time, owing to the fact that it was well-executed. He attracted a lot of attention and considered to go the venture capital route for further growth. He ended up raising about $9 million from Aarin Capital in 2013. The journey to unicorn status only took five years to achieve. 

A few years later, Byju launched a new learning app that got more than two million downloads in less than three months of launch. His advertising and marketing campaign targeted students that were searching for key lesson plans online. They were intrigued by the concept and decided to sign up. By this time last year, BYJU’s was valued at more than half a billion. They had seen growth like no other startup had previously, while sustaining a healthy paid-subscription model. 

The company then started acquiring overseas companies that could help with international expansion. It acquired TutorVista and Edurite from Pearson and expanded its reach to more than 2,000 teachers across countries like US, UK and Australia. Then, the company signed on Shah Rukh Khan as their brand ambassador towards the end of last year. 

When it comes to BYJU’s secret sauce – it’s all about retention. BYJU’s has been acquiring students at an incredible pace, but what makes it special is its ability to retain them at an astounding rate. Whether that be via parental push or students themselves wanting to extend, they’re working with an 85% renewal rate. This is a statistic that companies can only dream of. The concept itself is so novel and has little to no competition in the space. The company is growing at 100% annually for the last few years. 

“The launch of the personalised version of our app last year further helped us boost engagement and enhanced the learning experience for our students. Students and parents trust, understand, and believe that our products add immense value to them, and this constantly motivates us to create unique and innovative learning programmes for them.” –  Byju Raveendran.

Currently, the app has more than 15 million subscribers and 900K paid ones. It’s clocking in Rs 100 crore each month and is targeting Rs 1,400 crore for the year. It’s also raising more capital at a valuation of between $1.8 – 2 billion. If everything works out for BYJU’s, it could become one of the most successful Edtech startups in the world.

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