Bengaluru: With a new round of funding this week, leading educational technology e-learning company BYJU’S has entered the prestigious league of decacorns, that is start-up companies valued at over US$10 billion.
Two other Indian companies, the One97 Communications-owned Paytm, a payment gateway, and OYO, a budget hotel network, are also decacorns.
BYJU’S app, developed by Think and Learn Pvt Ltd was established by Byju Raveendran and his wife Divya Gokulnath in 2011. The company then offered online video-based learning programs for the K-12 segment (school students of classes from 1 to 12) and provided solutions for competitive examinations.
BYJU’S is now among the foremost preferred education platforms across the world. It entered the unicorn club in March 2018. Its revenue doubled from Rs. 1,430 crore to Rs. 2,800 crores in FY20.
In July 2019 BYJU’S bagged the sponsorship rights for the Indian cricket team jersey, replacing OPPO, the former sponsor. Actor Shah Rukh Khan is BYJU’s Brand Ambassador.
The start up got its initial seed funding in 2013 from Aarin Capital and now boasts of receiving funds from investors like Sequoia Capital India, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (a company co-founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan), Tencent, Sofina, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Verlinvest, International Finance Corporation (IFC), a development finance institution, Napsters Ventures, Canada Pension Plan (CPPIB) and General Atlantic.
With 57 million registered students and more than 3.5 million paid subscribers BYJU’S this week raised a new round of undisclosed funding from Mary Meeker VC firm “Bond”, a global technology investment firm.
Incidentally, just three months ago BYJU’S had raked in around US$200 million from New York-based existing backer General Atlantic. During the ongoing COVID-19 induced lockdown, the company added a whopping 13.5 million consumers and was the first to announce its content on the learning app would be made available free for students.
India has over 4,000 education tech firms and BYJU’S competitors include Vedantu, Toppr, Merit Nation, and Unacademy. With the internet, the Indian education system is experiencing a disruptive change. It also balances various mediums, and the delivery format is very flexible as it offers personalized learning engaging both parents and students.
This amalgamation of education and technology has initiated a change in the mind set from the existing format of ‘one to many’ in the classroom to ‘one-on-one’ learning model sitting at the comfort of their household providing 24/7 access to study material.
Advent of start-ups
Start-ups valued at over $1 million (Rs. 7.55 crore) are termed as minicorns. The companies having the potential to become bigger with investments from angel funds or venture capitalists are known as soonicorns (soon to be unicorn), and at a later stage when a larger entity acquires the start-up it becomes a unicorn (valued at over US$1billion, Rs.7,558 crore).
Nearly 30 Indian start-ups across sectors like consumer services, e-commerce, enterprise technology, financial technology, logistics, transport technology, mobility, clean technology, travel technology, education technology and media and entertainment are now unicorns.
When unicorns mature further, they reach the decacorn mark with valuation of USD 10 billion (Rs. 75,580 crore). Decacorns are also privately held start-ups but are the evolved versions of unicorns. What separates them from the rest is their unique business model coupled with a strong growth rate. Once they reach this stage, they again go on to set newer goals.
Globally there are 18 decacorns, the top three being the Beijing-based, Toutiou (Byte Dance), a digital media and Artificial Intelligence company valued at US75 billion, followed by Uber, an on-demand cab aggregator and delivery platform from the USA valued at US$72 billion, and Didi Chuxing, again a Chinese based on-demand cab aggregator valued at US$56 billion.