India Startups: Education

By pjain      Published July 30, 2019, 8:51 p.m. in blog Startups   

Education Key Factors

Online learning is booming in India to be $6b '20 1. Internet usage is exploding because of the ubiquity of cheap smartphones and cut-price wireless plans.

  • K12 is fast growing

  • Use India (English) to serve global markets for up-valuing

    Indian education startups are well set to seize the global opportunity

  • They already cater to a large English-speaking base 2, Lower cost basis
  • Critical mass - have created unique education content

Byju app Fun quizzes, animated kids base - Think & Learn unicorn val=$6b

  • 2012: 37yr Byju Raveendran founded
  • 2019 Raised $150m at $6b valuation - founder still owns 21% Its revenues are expected to more than double to 30 billion rupees ($435 million) in the year ending March 2020
  • 2020 Team up with Walt Disney Co. and taking its service US

Disney staples from The Lion King’s Simba to Frozen’s Anna teach math and English to students from grades one through three. The same characters star in animated videos, games, stories and interactive quizzes. Kids everywhere relate to Disney’s Simba or Moana, who grip kids’ attention before we take them through the loop of learning

The Byju’s founder grew up in a village on India’s southern coast where his parents were school-teachers. He was a reluctant pupil, playing hooky to frequent the football field, then learning on his own at home. He became an engineer and then began helping friends crack entry exams to top Indian engineering and management schools. The classes swelled till he finally began teaching thousands in sports stadiums, becoming a celebrity tutor who commuted between multiple cities during weekends.

He set up Think & Learn in 2011, offering online lessons before launching his main app in 2015. The business has signed up more than 35 million of whom about 2.4 million pay an annual fee of 10,000 to 12,000 rupees, helping it became profitable in the year ending March 2019. That’s when Raveendran began courting long-term investors such as pension funds and sovereign wealth funds -- his latest backer is the Qatar Investment Authority. In Byju’s latest funding round, the entrepreneur bought shares to maintain his equity level. Along with his wife and brother, the Raveendran clan now holds a total stake of about 35%, said the people familiar, asking not to be quoted as the matter is private.

Byju’s approach is simple -- captivate kids by transforming the content to fit short attention spans. Raveendran has always harbored ambitions to crack English-speaking countries, and has flown in YouTube stars to feature in his videos.

In Disney, he may have found a ready-made audience. All the lessons on the new service with Disney are set in the context of the entertainment giant’s classics and stay true to the narrative. To explain temperature, the app sets up a scene where Frozen’s Elsa falls ill because she constantly plays with snow. Anna gets out the thermometer to gauge her fever and a little story is then built around heat and cold. Or, to learn shapes, young learners dive into the story of Cars where they have to sort items like tires, traffic cones and billboards into buckets to learn about round, triangular and rectangular shapes.

“We are customizing Disney Byju’s to the American and British school curriculum,” Raveendran said. “The characters have universal appeal.”


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