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Byju's - Multinational Edtech Company
Founded in 2011, Byju's has built a $21B company in the online learning and tutoring space in India
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Founded in 2011, Karnataka-headquartered Byju’s is India’s largest ed-tech company that provides online learning and tutoring services to students worldwide. It offers online learning programs for K3, K10, K12, NEET, JEE, UPSC & Bank Exams with personalized video lessons, tests, one-on-one mentorship programs from expert teachers, and offline classes in coaching centers from IIT and IIM graduates.
In 2020, Byju’s became India’s 3rd decacorn after raising an undisclosed amount of funding from BOND, a global technology investment firm. The company’s last funding was in November 2021 where it raised $363M in a Series F funding round and is now valued at $21B. The startup is planning to go public in the next 18 months and according to Inc42, is eyeing a $40B valuation.
It is backed by notable investors like the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital India, Bond, Silver Lake, BlackRock, Sands Capital Management, Alkeon Capital Management, Sofina, Naspers Ventures, Tiger Global, Aarin Capital, Verlinvest, Times Internet, Lightspeed Ventures and more.
Business Overview & Products
Byju’s provides online educational services in the following categories:
Byju’s Classes: online tutoring program with a unique two-teacher model for students studying in grades 4-10.
Aakash +Byju’s: live online and offline classroom program for JEE and NEET aspirants.
Disney Byju’s-Easy Learn: an online learning platform for children aged 4-8 years that aims to develop their math, language, and reading skills through interactive programs featuring Disney’s stories and characters.
Byju’s IAS: IAS preparation program that offers both online, offline, and tablet programs to aspirants.
Byju’s Parent Connect: a platform that provides real-time updates to parents about their child's progress.
Byju’s Future School: one-on-one live learning platform for coding & math for kids.
The company currently operates in India, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, the US, and the UK, and has a reach of over 1700 cities worldwide.
How It Works
Byju’s aims to provide a holistic learning experience to students which is why its app takes care of every process from learning to revising before the exam.
Once a student signs up and enters all their information, the app creates a personal dashboard for them that consists of learning materials based on the grade. The dashboard keeps track of the chapters the student has visited, the percentage of lessons completed and suggests a revision plan. Moreover, if the student is preparing for a specific exam, the app provides quizzes, games, and a series of tests designed for the particular exam. The app is also constantly analyzing users’ progress to give a detailed report of the skills acquired, courses completed, and the overall performance of the user.
Byju’s uses knowledge graphs to create personalized learning journeys for their users. These graphs help the company design quizzes, videos, flashcards, and questions according to the interests and progress of their students. The learning content is also attached to multiple other properties and parameters like when a student signs up on the app, a learning profile is built for them to personalize their learning experience based on their strengths and weaknesses. This content is tagged at the sub-micro concept level helping the algorithms create a smooth learning curve so the students can feel motivated and challenged. If they make a mistake, the right remedial method is identified to strengthen the student’s learning experience.
Byju’s also has standardized personal mentoring in all their learning programs. The mentor is responsible for guiding students every step of the way and suggesting methods of improvement if needed. Users also have the option of attending offline classes that are conducted by IIT/IIM graduates at the center near them. This service is currently available in cities including Gurgaon, Pitampura, Janakpuri, Noida, and Rohini.
Business Model & Pricing
Byju’s has a business-to-consumer (B2C) freemium business model. Users are given a 15-day free trial with some limited features. Once the trial period is over, they have to pay INR 1,000 for a subscription to unlock all of the app’s features. The subscription amount contributes to a large chunk of the company’s revenue. Other sources of revenue include product purchases from its website like tablets, SD cards, reference books, and payments for career counseling and offline coaching.
The company has also attracted a large user base courtesy of its two-teacher model. Under this model, one expert teacher out of the duo teaches students through strong visuals and storytelling in an attempt to explain complex topics in great detail. The other teacher focuses on solving instant doubts, paying individual attention to students who are struggling with a certain topic, and making the session more interactive. This teaching model is quite popular among students now as they get to experience the best of both worlds, access to an expert teacher who ensures concept clarity and personal attention from the second teacher for all their queries and doubts.
With this, students get the best of both worlds - access to high-quality teachers and personal attention.
Ever since the world went digital due to the pandemic, Byju’s has witnessed incredible growth. For starters, it was listed as the 13th most valuable startup in the world according to CB Insight’s unicorn tracker in December 2021. In 2020, the company reported a revenue of $326M which was an 82.31% increase from last year. From these earnings, 74% was collected from India whereas 24.6% was collected from the rest of the world. It also reported a profit of $7M which was a two-fold increase from the previous year.
In 2021, Byju’s became India’s biggest unicorn after raising $340M funding in a financial round led by UBS Group and Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom. It is now a decacorn valued at $18B and has overtaken Paytm to become the most valued Indian startup.
The company is reported to have over 80 million users out of which 5.5 million are paid subscribers, and their app has been downloaded more than 100 million times. This growth is also due to Byju’s aggressive acquisition spree majorly in 2021 where it acquired 10 startups in a bid to enter allied segments and strengthen its core offerings.
Byju Raveendran: CEO and Co-founder of Byju’s. Prior to founding Byju’s, Byju worked as a Service Engineer at a multinational shipping company and helped students prepare for entrance exams in his free time. In 2003, he scored 100% in Common Entrance Exam (CAT) and this result further increased his popularity among students. Two years later Byju quit his job to pursue teaching full time and today his company, Byju’s is the largest edtech company in India.
Divya Gokulnath: Co-founder and Director of Byju’s. Prior to founding Byju’s, Divya worked as a Teacher at Byju’s coaching classes where she taught mathematics, English, and logical reasoning for competitive examinations.
History & Evolution
In the late 2000s, Byju Raveendran was an engineer working overseas who started helping his friends in India to prepare for the Common Aptitude Entrance (CAT) exam. His effective teaching method led to all his friends scoring high grades and thus began his journey of tutoring students. As his popularity increased, he switched from one-on-one study sessions to workshops and from classrooms to auditoriums, in order to accommodate a large number of students. The classes became the next big thing and in 2009 Byju started recording his lectures to cater to a larger audience.
In 2011, he along with his students launched Think & Learn, a company that aimed at creating content for school students. He believed that for adults to do well in competitive exams, their concepts must be clear during school years. Think & Learn was bootstrapped by Byju with an investment of a little over $2,500.
In 2015, after 4 years of development, Think & Learn launched Byju’s. The platform officially started as a Learning App which aimed to create highly engaging video lessons with content that was a healthy mix of animation, gamification, and live-action formats. Within just three months of the app launch, it scaled to more than 2 million students.
In 2016, it received the ‘Best Self Improvement’ app award at Google Play India and became the first company to be backed by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative.
In 2017, Byju’s Math App for children was launched next to Byju’s Parent Connect app for parents to track their child’s learning progress. That year the company also became a business case at Harvard Business School and acquired Vidhyarta, a customized learning guidance platform, Tutorvista, a leading online tutoring company, and Edurite, an education solutions provider.
In 2019, Byju’s turned profitable and became the world’s most valuable ed-tech company. The company acquired Osmo, an educational games company, and launched the Disney-Early Learn app with learning programs for children in grades 1-3.
In 2020, Byju’s attained decacorn status and added more than 25 million new students to its platform due to lockdown measures by offering free live classes. It launched Byju’s Classes, a comprehensive online tutoring program to offer personalized after-school tuition.
In 2021, Byju’s acquired Tynker, a coding platform for K-12 students; Epic, a digital reading platform for children; Aakash Educational Services, a 33-year-old chain of physical coaching centers; Toppr, a school focused test preparation platform; Great Learning, a professional training; Gradeup, an online exam preparation platform; Whodat, a computer vision and AR startup; HashLearn, an on-demand tutoring app; Scholr, a doubt-solving ed-tech platform and GeoGebra, Austria-headquartered math learning platform.
Byju’s stands out from its competitors because of the personalized learning experience it provides to users as well as the original content it churns out. They aim to make users fall in love with learning and they have accomplished that by offering programs that have movie-like videos and game-like interaction in their content. They have put together contextual, theoretical, and visual dimensions to create interactive and entertaining videos, thus creating a huge fan following amongst students of all age groups.
The company has garnered a lot of criticism for its aggressive sales tactics after several of its employees came forward to speak about Byju’s high-pressure sales culture. According to BBC, many employees of the company claimed that they were forced to sell expensive products to underprivileged families to avoid facing punishments or losing their jobs. Moreover, many disheveled parents also complained about being scared into buying products they couldn’t afford and not receiving the services they were promised like one on one tutoring and an assigned mentor to monitor their child’s progress. 3 such cases were registered in consumer courts where Byju’s was ordered to pay damages to their customers.
According to a report by transaction advisory firm RBSA Advisors in 2021, India’s edtech industry is expected to grow to $30B in the next 10 years, currently, its market size is between $2.75 – 3.00 billion.
Due to the pandemic which closed down in-person schooling and catapulted the education-seeking demographic towards online learning, Edtech was the most funded sector in India with edtech startups raising more than $1.43B in 2020.
Suggested Next Reads
The rise of online learning: How Byju's became India's biggest edtech company (CNN, October 19, 2021)
Byju's Founder Is On A Buying Spree To Keep His EdTech Company Best In Class (Any Raghunathan, Forbes, October 6, 2021)
Hard sells and ‘toxic’ targets: How Indian edtech giant Byju’s fuels its meteoric rise (Akanksha Singh, Rest of World, August 30, 2021)
Bankers chase Byju's for IPO, valuation pegged up to $50 billion (Manish Singh, TedCrunch, August 24, 2021)
BYJU’s: The Unordinary Story of an Indian Decacorn Powerhouse (Vinit Shah, Age of Awareness, August 23, 2020)
How Byju's built its brand (Sadhana Chathurvedula, Live Mint, 27 April 2017)