Online app-based education technology startup Byju’s has announced that it is in advanced talks with multiple new investors to raise $50 million USD that will help expand its offerings into the United Kingdom and the United States. The latest funding round follows a March push in which it raised $75 million USD from US-based Sequoia Capital and Sofina of Belgium.
On July 23, International Finance Corp., an arm of the World Bank, proposed to invest $15 million in equity for a minority stake in Byju’s.
The Bengaluru, India-based Byju’s firm was founded in 2011 by Byju Raveendran and offers learning programmes for students in Class VI-XII as well as preparation for competitive exams. It launched its learning app last year, which has since been downloaded more than five million times.
The app mainly offers help for the CAT, IAS, GRE and GMAT exams. Meanwhile, the firm started its business before its app launch by converting lessons into video format with the use of graphics to explain concepts. It has over 200,000 paid subscribers, and its base is growing rapidly.
According to Byju’s, the company was “born out of the need for high quality, engaging and accessible education,” whilst the “philosophy of Byju’s is to inspire a lifelong love of learning.”
Byju’s founder, Byju Raveendran, has expressed optimism over the company’s growth trajectory:
“We are seeing strong inbound interest from multiple investors over the last few months, thanks to our explosive growth. We are keen to bring in partners who will catalyse the next stage for us.”
According to LiveMint, the firm has said that the funds raised will go towards both expansion and acquisitions. Meanwhile, outside of India, Byju’s has operations in West Asia and is planning to enter the US, the UK and the commonwealth countries over the space of the next few months.
In their official statement, Byju’s have said that the app has seen a month-on-month growth of 15 percent. Raveendran also pointed out the app’s extremely high renewal rates as evidence that Byju’s is satisfying the needs of learners:
“We are humbled by the rising popularity and high engagement for our product with 90-percent annual renewal rates from the students. We are constantly innovating the way in which we make learning accessible, effective, engaging and personalized.”
Sanghamitra Kar of YourStory writes that India’s education technology market is thriving, with Simplilearn, Embibe, Toppr and EduKart joining Byju’s as strong, growing platforms. However, she stated that although the ed tech sector has seen a number of key players emerge, it is still a way behind in terms of funding and traction in comparison with other sectors such as food tech or e-commerce.
The investment in Byju’s has come at a time of increased investor interest in the sector. The Times of India reports that ed tech companies in India raised $85 million last year, $75 million of which was directed to Byju’s.
Vinay Dwivedi of The Economic Times writes that Byju Raveendran believes the key to improving educational outcomes lies in reaching students early. Personalised lessons that make use of graphics and clear explanations are at the heart of Byju’s approach:
“My experience with graduate students made me realise that you can make a bigger impact if you can make an intervention in the way students learn in their formative years,” he says.