Since India applied a nationwide blockchain in late March, closing schools and other public places, the Bangalore-based Byju-based startup has emerged as one of the quintessential platforms for school students in the second largest internet market of the world.
It took the startup about four and a half years to accumulate 40 million students. After the blockchain, its user base has grown to 65 million, its co-founder and CEO Byju Raveendran told Disrupt 2020 conference Tuesday.
The students say they were attracted to the Byju platform because of the way it taught them subjects. Byju, who is a teacher himself, has found intuitive ways such as using real-life objects such as a pizza to teach complex mathematical problems.
Today, his startup is estimated at nearly $ 11 billion (which makes it the second most valuable startup in India), and has a presence in many international markets. Late last year, Byju announced he had it also became profitable. It’s not every day that we see an Indian startup with one of these three characteristics – much less all three in one.
In a lengthy interview at Disrupt 2020, Raveendran shared Byju’s journey, which began as an offline platform that taught students in classrooms, auditoriums and stadiums; startup plans for further expansion in international markets; their opinions on merger and acquisition opportunities; and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected its activity and the education landscape in general in India, among a number of other things.
“Unfortunately it has taken a pandemic for most stakeholders to test digital learning. Parents are now accepting the online segment more than ever before. This sector is clearly at a turning point,” Raveendran said.
To make online learning more accessible for students, Byju made all his free offers during the pandemic. But the platform’s paying subscribers, now more than $ 4 million, remain on a firm growth path, he said.
The startup plans to generate more than $ 1 billion in revenue this year from India itself and earn profits between $ 150 and $ 180 million, he said.
“I will always say it is a relative success.” What we consider as the target audience, we have less than 4% penetration in that segment, “he said.” More than a third of schoolchildren don’t have a smartphone. There’s still a lot of pace to do. “
Another phenomenon that the pandemic started in India is a certain consolidation in the edtech startup space. Byju himself acquired WhiteHat Jr., an 18-month startup that teaches coding skills to students, for $ 300 million.
TechCrunch said the startup is busy with several more startups including the Indian company Doubtnut, which through its app allows students to take a picture of a math problem and provides a step-by-step solution.
Here’s what Byju had to say about it: “The long-term potential of the sector is at the moment of all time. […] We are looking for companies that can add strong product components both to our existing user base and to new potential customers in new markets, or companies that can give us some sort of distribution in order to get a start to launch in a new market – in particular English language markets “.
“You hear about some other acquisition from us. We are exploring some of them very seriously, “he added. Byju said future acquisitions will again be traded in full numbers, as it” values equity more than others. “
In IPO, fundraise, and international expansion
Byju has not sought to go public for at least two years, the chief executive said. “We have strong business foundations; we have been able to find the right balance between high growth and sustainable growth and we have created a very profitable model in such a short period of time. But we don’t take the public list seriously, ”he added.
And it seems that investors in Byju aren’t even in a hurry. “We don’t need to make a public list to give out to some of the top investors because the business itself will generate enough money. A good number of them have already taken the money they have invested in the last few rounds.” , he said.
Byju’s has raised more than $ 700 million this year. We asked Byju why the startup raised capital. “We have been very efficient in terms of capital as we have used the primary capital we have raised. In the first five years, we used less than $ 350 million in primary capital – which shows how we have effectively scaled the model, ”he said.
“Most of the recent fundraisers are to fund inorganic growth as well as liquidity purchases. We use it to add some strong business models. We never raise money because we need it. It was always to add the right partner. In recent times, we’ve added long-term, patient investors, ”he said. Byju is probably not done with its fundraising effort even though the startup is currently engaging with at least two other investment firms.
To expand into international markets, Byju said he plans to launch a digital learning app aimed at children in several English-speaking markets. He said WhiteHat Jr., will introduce math subject to its offer to serve customers in several markets including Australia, New Zealand.
We also talked about what he thinks of other giant startups in India that are not profitable today, the kind of message he sends to international investors, and whether there is room for a new player in the foreign market. education in India, and much more. You can see the full interview below.